The 2012 NCAA tournament selection process wrapped up on Sunday, and as expected the Northwestern Wildcats failed to make the field. Nobody is really surprised or upset that Northwestern is headed to the NIT, but there is a bit of outrage over the selection committee's decision to include the Iona Gaels at the expense of the Drexel Dragons. SB Nation's Northwestern blog, Sippin' On Purple, used their platform not to complain about Northwestern being excluded, but question why the selection committee uses non-conference strength of schedule when making decisions on the composition of the field:
vs RPI 1 through 50: 1-1 (Both against Virginia Commonwealth)
vs RPI 51 through 100: 5-2
vs RPI 101 through 200: 6-3
vs RPI 201+: 15-0
vs RPI 1 through 50: 0-2 (losses to Purdue and Marshall)
vs RPI 51 through 100: 5-1
vs RPI 101 through 200: 8-2
vs RPI 200+: 12-2
In reality, an NCAA tournament caliber team will be a heavy favorite over any team ranked 200th or worse in the country, and shouldn't get any extra credit for beating team #200 instead of team #345. Even the committee agrees with this, as they give teams equal credit (that is, no credit) for beating opponents rated worse than 100th in the country. Yet their SOS formula thinks that for an NCAA caliber team, the difference between playing the #1 team vs the #145 team is the same as the difference between playing the #200 team and the #345 team. It defies common sense, but it's the system we currently have.
If the NCAA is going to insist on using non-conference SOS to select the field, they should at least use a version of SOS that makes sense, and assign equal weight to all games against #200 and below. Otherwise, we end up with nonsense like Iona over Drexel.
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