NCAA committee likes strong finishby Steve Rivera on Feb. 14, 2007, under Sports
RPI just one factor in determining seedings for tournament
Just win, baby.
Arizona might want to borrow the phrase from the Oakland Raiders, because that’s what it’s going to take to have a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.
No shock there.
Predictably, NCAA Tournament chairman Gary Walters, in a teleconference with college basketball writers Tuesday, would not talk specifics when it came to certain teams.
But it’s clear – even though Walters said he couldn’t say it weighed more heavily than other factors – that winning late in the season is very important to the committee.
If UA were to run the table to end the regular season, it would be 9-0 since back-to-back losses to North Carolina and Washington State. There would still be at least one Pac-10 Conference Tournament game to be played.
“If we have teams that are getting stronger as the year goes on, that’s something that will be noted by the committee,” Walters said. “We are looking for strength of performance at the end of the year. That’s the measure of the team that will be entering the tournament at that time.”
What it does is make decisions on where to place teams such as Arizona (RPI, 6), Kentucky (7) and Tennessee (14) more difficult. All have six to eight losses but have very good RPIs.
“I’ve stated over and over again, as have other members of the committee, (that) the RPI, as a quantitative model, is a tool -a useful tool – but not the only tool,” Walters said. “Understand that the RPI is a general indicator of relative strength. It is not a precise indicator of absolute strength. It’s the role of the committee to look at the qualitative issues that are particular to each team.”
Such as when and where teams won and lost and whether a team is ascending or descending. Arizona’s 12-1 start will be noted, but it’s the final games that might make a difference in a seed or two.
At 17-7 UA is ascending, even though it’s had a strong RPI all season (in the top six). It had been No. 1 or No. 2 even while it went through a 3-6 tailspin last month.
“You torture the numbers long enough you can get them to confess to anything,” Walters said.
In ESPN.com’s most recent look at the tournament, Arizona is a No. 6 seed and headed east. It goes to show how important UA’s sweep of the Oregon schools were. The Wildcats were a No. 9 seed Friday.
What’s clear is that “no good deed goes unpunished,” Walters said. Translation: Arizona needs wins over visiting UCLA and USC to impress even more.
And UA’s wins over Memphis, Illinois, Louisville, Stanford and Oregon are significant. And so is UA’s No. 1 strength of schedule. Arizona is 5-7 against teams in the top 50 and 7-0 against teams in the 51-100 range.
UA freshman Jordan Hill was back at practice Tuesday. He’s still experiencing some congestion but should be ready to play in Thursday’s game against USC.
Hill, who played against Oregon and Oregon State last week despite being ill, did not practice Monday.