NIT Bracketology: Feb. 8

An updated version of the NIT Bracketology is available here.

We all know it’s possible to game the RPI. Back in 2012, Luke Winn wrote an excellent piece on how some programs are able to manipulate it to their advantage. I like to believe that the NCAA selection committee has become more sophisticated over time, but RPI — and wins weighted by RPI strength — is still a key indicator of selection.

Which makes the case of Buffalo even more egregious. The Bulls are coached by former Wagner assistant Bobby Hurley, brother of Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley. As of Saturday evening they were 41st in RPI. Buffalo’s other intriguing trait? They’re 0-3 against Top 100 RPI teams, with losses to both Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Those two road losses, plus a home win against South Dakota St. and a home win against Kent St. in MAC play is about all the Bulls have going for their profile. Buffalo has played nine games against teams ranked 201 or worse in RPI, including five during non-conference, but thanks to playing Wisconsin and Kentucky, the out-of-conference RPI was a robust 20.

It makes no sense — though to their credit the Bulls have blown out most of the bad teams they’ve played and are 68th in KenPom. Buffalo has one other thing going for it. The Bulls still haven’t lost at Alumni Arena. There are currently 25 teams in Division I that haven’t lost at home. (Many of them are mid-majors who could never get decent competition to come to their gym.) All of them are getting some RPI boost.

Bobby Hurley has managed to game the RPI system, and while the lack of quality wins will certainly prevent his team from making the NCAA tournament, except of course if they win the MAC tourney, Buffalo is a near NIT lock. That RPI will be just too hard to ignore. Thus in this bracket I have the Hurley brothers playing each other, because who says the NIT can’t have a little bit of humor.

Note: There are no auto bids in the NIT bracket, but there will eventually be 8-10 in there. So the 7 and 8 seed lines certainly aren’t safe. I hope to have another bracket next Monday.

Final NCAA Bubble Teams: Cincinnati, Temple, Dayton, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, LSU, Old Dominion, Miami (FL), Seton Hall, Oregon

NIT Bracket:

1. Davidson
8. Central Michigan
4. Connecticut
5. Michigan
3. N.C. State
6. Saint Mary’s
2. Boise St.
7. Tennessee

1. Purdue
8. Richmond
4. Rhode Island
5. Buffalo
3. BYU
6. Washington
2. Illinois
7. Valparaiso

1. St. John’s
8. Akron
4. California
5. Wyoming
3. Clemson
6. Massachusetts
2. George Washington
7. Yale

4. Minnesota
5. Florida
3. Oregon St.
6. Pittsburgh
2. Alabama
7. Western Kentucky

Just Off The NIT Bubble: Arizona St., La Salle, Nebraska, Penn St., Vanderbilt

Top CIT/CBI Candidates: TCU, Memphis, Pepperdine, Portland, Illinois St., St. Bonaventure, Evansville, Loyola (IL), Kent St., UC Irvine, New Mexico, Utah St., UTEP, Northeastern, Hofstra, Georgia St., Rider, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, UT Martin, South Dakota St., Coastal Carolina, Radford, Chattanooga, Sacramento St., North Florida, USC Upstate, Norfolk St., NJIT, Florida St., Georgia Southern, Sam Houston St., Western Michigan, Cleveland St., Vermont, New Hampshire, Stony Brook, Saint Francis U.

4 thoughts on “NIT Bracketology: Feb. 8

  1. This is bogus and clearly east coast bias. How do you explain WKU in favor of UTEP. Where is La Tech or ODU? One or the other has to be in here unless they’re both in the NCAA which I highly doubt.


    1. Sure… East Coast bias… That’s it. There’s a new bracket coming out on Monday and this certainly won’t be the case, but at the time this was written (Feb. 8), Louisiana Tech was in the NCAA tournament as the CUSA champion and Old Dominion was one of my last four at large teams. So yes, they were both in the NCAAs. UTEP was considered for the NIT bracket, but missed the cut. Considering Western Kentucky was a 7 seed I obviously wasn’t a huge fan of their resume either (that’s a bubble team in the NIT really due to the automatic bids). Since this bracket came out WKU lost to both Marshall and UAB, so they’ll likely drop out entirely. I’m not sure if UTEP will get in on Monday, but their resume looks better now. 66 RPI, 3-3 vs. Top 100. The 6-3 vs. 101-200 is impressive too. Louisiana Tech will probably once again be the projected CUSA favorite (depending on what happens today). So I’d guess Monday will bring for CUSA:

      NCAA: La Tech
      NIT Potential: UTEP, Old Dominion
      NIT Bubble: Western Kentucky

      And that’s about it. I also think given how the league has three relatively similar teams that it could certainly end up needing an auto NIT bid if La Tech wins and then gets knocked off in the tournament, especially considering UAB is hosting.


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