Monday, March 9, 2009

Speculating about the Post Season

Tonight's MAAC tournament championship game will determine the conference's representative to the NCAA tournament.

If top-seeded Siena wins, the Saints could get a favorable seeding in the national title tournament.

The Saints, currently 25-7 overall, are rated 24th nationally in Jerry Palm's computer approximation of the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index. Palm claims to use the same formula as the NCAA uses for its own RPI that serves as a tool to help decide at-large teams and seeding positions.

Palm figures Siena would be a No. 12 team in a 16-team bracket, if it beats Niagara in tonight's conference final game.

Meanwhile, ESPN's resident "Bracketologist" Joe Lunardi figures Siena could be a No. 10 seed.

Niagara, currently No. 51 in Palm's RPI approximation, would probably be a 14th or 15th seed should it knock off the Saints tonight.

If the Purple Eagles lose tonight, then they'll almost certainly move to the NIT field.

And, if Siena loses?

The Saints would drop a few spots in the RPI, probably into the high 20's or low 30's. In that range, they'd probably still get consideration for an at-large NCAA berth.

But that doesn't guarantee anything.

In 2006 Missouri State finished its season rated No. 21 nationally (in the RPI's), and was snubbed by the NCAA selection process. It remains the only team ever with an RPI better than No. 30 not to be invited to join the NCAA tournament field.

This humble blogger can't begin to speculate on Siena's chances should it fail to win tonight's championship game and has to rely on the "wisdom" of the NCAA selection committee for its post-season fate.

All we can be certain is that the Saints will assuredly be on the board, on the proverbial bubble, when the selection committee makes its at-large choices.

Better to take all doubt out of the equation, though, and win tonight.

At worst, though, Siena would head to the men's NIT if it loses tonight. That tournament takes any conference's regular-season champion tht does not move on to the NCAA's.

Rider, meanwhile, hopes its season isn't over.

Broncs' coach Tommy Dempsey began campaigning for a post-season opportunity for his team shortly after it lost a "one for the ages" double-overtime decision to Niagara in Sunday's MAAC tournament semifinal round.

These days there are 129 teams that will continue on in a national post-season event ... 65 in the NCAA's, 32 in the NIT and 16 each in the College Basketball Invitational and the Tournament.

Does Rider belong?

As of Monday morning, the Broncs were No. 124 in Jerry Palm's RPI, which might wind up being on the wrong side of the bubble.

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