Of all the teams that got shut out of the NCAA Tournament, it’s Monmouth that has the biggest gripe. Just one look at their RPI, and it becomes apparent the committee got it wrong.
The RPI is an analytic tool used to help evaluate collegiate basketball teams. RPI takes into consideration a teams wins, losses, and strength of schedule. It’s a major factor in how the selection committee seeds it’s participants in the tournament.
One would expect that a good RPI is a strong indicator of a teams success. But if that’s the case, why did Tulsa, whose RPI ranks at 58, or Syracuse, who sit with a 73 ranking, make the NCAA Tournament over Monmouth, who possessed an RPI of 53?
While the American Athletic Conference and ACC offer more competition in conference play than the MAAC, the committee has always been known to favor school’s with a tougher non-conference schedule. Monmouth had one of the most brutal schedules away from conference play in the nation.
The Hawks went up against three NCAA Tournament teams this season in non-conference play. They were able to defeat Notre Dame, and took a loss to Dayton. Monmouth also played USC twice, losing one game and winning another.
The Hawks also played games against power conference school’s such as UCLA (Pac-12) and Georgetown (Big East), and won both matchups.
What’s most impressive about their play against these noted programs is they played all of them on the road or at a neutral site. In fact, the Hawks played 23 games away from their own gym, winning 17. That’s a pretty impressive season statistic.
The reasoning for Monmouth’s exclusion from the tournament was given by Selection committee chair, Joe Castiglione.
“It was really the case with their three losses out of the top 200. We combine with that with the use of all the different analytics we have available. No other team in the field had multiple losses against teams below 200.”
Castiglione says analytics played a huge factor in the committees decision. The RPI is one of the major analytical tools in collegiate sports, but apparently that meant nothing to him. And even with multiple losses to a team ranked under 200, Monmouth still had at higher RPI than both Syracuse and Tulsa.
Monmouth can’t control how other teams in the MAAC will perform, so they went out an built a strong non-conference schedule to make up for it. It’s just a shame the selection committee failed to acknowledge that.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288