Nobody has complained that anybody in the Pac-12 was screwed besides Cal (getting a 12 seed and a First Four game) and UW (so-called regular season champion left out of the tourney). But given how the selection is done, I donít think anybody got screwed.
Many of those who argue Cal got screwed in the seeding point out we were placed at 45 (which, if seeding doesnít have to get adjusted for bracketing purposes, would mean the best of the 12 seeds), yet had an RPI of 37 (which, if there were no adjustements in seeding for bracketing purposes would mean the best of the 10 seeds). Many of those who argue UW got screwed say that UWís RPI of 71 should be irrelevant, even if it would be close to historically the worst RPI to get in ever.
I realize these sets of people arenít the same, but still, we canít have it both ways, either RPI is relevant, or it is not. Additionally, history has shown that RPI is more relevant to getting in the field than it is to seeding, so RPI is likely to screw UW out of a spot in the field, RPI is not likely to help Cal avoid being ranked 45. I.e., both arguments are probably wrong, Calís 37 RPI does not mean we merit a 10 seed, and UWís 71 RPI means, barring REALLY compelling reasons to overcome RPI, UW should be out.
Letís look at Cal for the moment. The committee has made clear over and over again that wins over good teams matter a lot. Calís best wins from an RPI standpoint were the wins over Oregon, 63 RPI. There were 9 teams with worse RPIís than Cal who were seeded ahead of Cal (the only team with a better RPI than Cal that flipped behind us was 46 seed/35 RPI Harvard). With the exception of 42 seed North Carolina St., all of them had more than 1 win over top 50ís, and except for NC St. and 44 seed Colorado, all had at least 1 top 25 win. North Carolina St, just had the 1 top 50 over 50 RPI Texas, so it was close, but they also had a total of 4 RPI wins better than Cal, the Texas win, a win over Virginia at a neutral site, and sweeping 60 RPI Miami, home and road. Colorado got the 44 seed, in spite of a 62 RPI and a much worse conference record than Cal, but they did finish strong (finishing strong seems even more important in seeding than in getting in), their two 2 50 winís were both over Cal, and the game at a neutral site was over Cal. You could argue we should flip flop with Colorado, but we'd still be in the last 4 at larges and a First Four game, and since we'd have to match up with South Florida, probably still a 12 seed. 39 seed Virginia (53 RPI) is the only other team that flipped over Cal with fewer than 3 top 50 RPI wins, they only had 2, but one was on the road (v. 49 UNC) and the other was at home over #13 RPI Michigan. Given the emphasis on quality wins, hard to say Cal got screwed with a 45 seed.
Only 2 teams got at large bids with zero wins over top 50 teams, 45 seed/37 RPI Cal, and 50 seed/40 RPI Iona. Assuming that the team rankings werenít affected by how many were getting in, if they still had a field of 65, Cal would have been the last team in, Iona wouldnít have made it. In history (starting with 1994 when the basic RPI formula was used)l, including this year, only 10 teams have gotten an at large bid with zero wins over top 50 RPI teams. Only 3 of them were without a regular season conference title (Iona had a conference title), and 2 of those (Cal this year and Clemson last year) have gotten in since the field was expanded to 68. Iona was the last at large team in the tourney, and it likely helped that they had a regular season title that counted (combined with their 40 RPI, and Iíll say why some regular season titles donít count in discussing UW).
Note that among the first 6 teams left out (the committee didnít release order, but the six were Drexel, Mississippi, Seton Hall, Miami (Fl.), Nevada, and Oral Roberts), only Nevada failed to have any top 50 RPI wins.
I just donít see Cal has having gotten screwed here. Like RPI or not, we got in on the strength of RPI, and based on the committee's emphasis on good wins, and given who we beat (nobody), we probably got seeded in a reasonable spot.
As for UW, keep in mind that the regular season title was seriously discounted by the committee, not because we are the Pac-12, but because we donít play a true home and home round robin. Jerry Palm attended the mock media selection a couple of years ago (I donít remember if he was on the selection committee or just observed that year), and later mentioned that conference position, even conference titles, get ignored if the committee thinks there is a decent chance it was affected by not playing the same schedule as a team close behind it.
Monty was quoted yesterday regarding the regular season title: ďI value it very highly because itís the same for everybody.Ē WRONG!!!! Sorry, Monty, youíre living in the past. With the new Pac-12, it ISNíT the same for everybody. It isn't like the Metro Atlantic, where Iona's regular season title by 2 games over Loyola (Maryland) in a true double round robin was in a schedule that was the same for everyone (which, combined with a 40 RPI got Iona in the tourney).
Letís say that the Pac-12 had played a true home and home round robin. UW would have had to add the toughest road trip in the conference, Cal and Stanford, plus adding a fairly easy home set, Utah and Colorado. Assuming they get swept in the Bay and sweep at home, they go 2-2. Cal would have had to add the Washingtons at home and a road trip to Arizona. Assuming they sweep at home, lose to Arizona on the road but beat crappy ASU on the road, they go 3-1. So if the favorites win all the games, we now have a tie for the conference title at 16-6 between Cal and UW. Should UW somehow get an advantage over Cal because it got an easier schedule than Cal? Sure, UW gets the Pac-12 championship, but that is the Pac-12ís decision to make. The NCAA committee cares about who the best teams are, and did UW really have a better regular season than Cal, because it played an easier schedule? The committee says no.
UW had zero top 50 wins. They were only 4-3 against RPI 51-100 (as compared to Calís 8-4), so the total record top 100 for UW was 4-8, as opposed to Calís 8-7.
RPI does matter in picking at large teams. Typically, the top 40-45 are in, period, barring a totally thin profile (and Calís lack of top 50 wins put Cal pretty close to the edge, but fortunately, with 68 teams in now, the line is closer to 45 than 40). Typically, sub-60 teams are out barring a really strong profile. Since the RPI formula was changed in 2005 to weight road and home victories, 63 has been the worst RPI to get in (before the formula was changed, in 2004 a 70 got in and in 1999 a 74 got in, the only 70ís or worse to get in).
This year was not pretty typical in terms of how RPI mattered, no real outliers. The best RPI left out of an at large bid was Marshall at 47, a team not in anybodyís bubble lists at the end (and not in the top six left out). The worst RPI to get an at large bid was 57 West Virginia . The first six left out had RPIís ranging from 51 to 68.
UW had an RPI outside of the range that, especially since the tweak in the formula in 2005, has any chance of getting in. Even if they had a chance, they didnít have a profile to get in. Zero top 50ís? Sorry, no chance with an RPI of 71. Conference title? Carries little weight, especially when it is built on having an easier schedule than the team that finished one spot behind.
If UW had gotten in, the committee would have been throwing everything it says out the window, and saying that winning an outright regular season conference championship in a Big 6 conference by virtue of playing an unfair schedule matters more than everything the committee has always talked about.
I might agree that the rules are screwed up. I want a true double round robin where the winner gets the conferenceís automatic bid, and no conference tourney (in which case, maybe Cal ties for the conference title this year and gets an automatic bid by virtue of sweeping UW). But for money reasons, it will never happen again. By the rules that exist, UW didnít get screwed.
And I donít think Cal got screwed, either.
GO BEARS!!! BEAT THE BULLS!!