Northwestern still needs three wins to make NCAA Tournament

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In our latest NCAA Tournament bracket projection, we have Northwestern as a #12 seed, one of the last four teams in. Of course, this isn’t a place you want to stay right now as Selection Sunday approaches.

Even though this is a supposedly “weak bubble,” bracket projections don’t and can’t factor in the “bid-stealing” that will occur next week when small conference favorites lose in their in their league tournaments. How many of these “one-bid league” upsets will we have? Who knows, but you need to get above that last #12 seed line to be safe, and the ‘Cats need to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City and then pick up two more wins in Indy.

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Northwestern’s Surprisingly Good RPI, Tournament Profile

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RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is an algorithm based on opponents’ winning percentage, opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage, and opponents’ opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. This is the truth, I’m not trying to sound like Dr. Seuss here. So RPI is like the BCS, a very controversial number that certains groups of people ascribe meaning to; other groups of people resent.

That fact is, RPI is taken very seriously by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and from a numerical standpoint, it’s all about “who have you played?” Then there’s the eye-test with RPI, which asks “who have you beaten?”

And these numbers are what gives the Northwestern Wildcats a stronger than you think tourney profile. A 12-5, 2-3 in conference team with two 28+ point losses doesn’t seem like a good candidate to go dancing at first glance. But when you look at their #30 RPI and strength of schedule, the picture completely changes.

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