Hawkeyes NCAA Snub; Was it Fair?

Even though most were resigned to Iowa’s NCAA-less fate, the no-show on Selection Sunday still stung.  Did they deserve to be in the dance?

The fan in me screams yes while my head can accept the fact they were snubbed. However Iowa’s ‘snub’, along with a few others from high major leagues, restarts the debate on the value of the current RPI system.

Iowa finished 29th in both Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings as well as Ken Pomeroy’s temp-free rankings and 43rd in ESPN’s BPI.  However, Iowa finished 79th in the RPI rankings which apparently still matter far more to selection committee members as opposed to the quality of play metrics offered by Pomeroy and the BPI.

The RPI has problems.  Most everyone on the outside of the NCAA agrees with that to some extent.  However, coaches and programs know the rules of engagement before the games begin and they were all reconfirmed this year:  The portion of your schedule you control needs to not be filled with teams the cupcakes call cupcakes.

Iowa’s non-conference schedule in 2012-2013 was chock full of the latter. Hostess didn’t go out of business on Iowa’s account as they gobbled up lots of cupcakes.

Check out this graphic, a screen shot from KenPom.com and focus on the 314 by Texas Pan-American and scroll down.

Screen shot 2013-03-17 at 8.22.05 PM

Five of Iowa’s out of 13 non-conference games came against teams that were ranked 307 or worse by Pomeroy’s system, or 38.5%. Seven out of 13 were ranked 238 or worse, or more than half. Iowa played just three teams who were ranked inside the Top 70 and lost badly to a team (Virginia Tech) who finished ranked 165th.

The NCAA doesn’t like to reward teams who play schedules like this, even teams who play 18 of their 31 games (58% of slate) in the true best conference in the nation. Is that fair? Let’s take a look at the ‘Last Four In’ to the tournament, the last four teams to receive an at large bid. I will list the number of games they played against teams ranked 200 or worse by Pomeroy’s rankings:

Middle Tennessee: 2 out of 11 non-conference games, 12 of 31 regular season games total.
La Salle: 5 of 13 in non-conference games, 7 out of 29 regular season games.
St Mary’s: 2 of 14 non-conference games plus one non-D1 team for 3 of 14, 9 of 31 regular season games total
Boise State: 5 of 14 non-conf plus two non-D1, so make it 7 of 14 for a total of 7 of 30 as no MWC teams were sub 200.

Iowa? Seven out of 31 (all non-conference), or a lower percentage of their overall regular season schedule playing teams ranked 200 or worse than any of the Last Four In, plus Iowa’s 18 conference games against teams from the best conference in the nation.

Again, the RPI is what it is and everybody knows what it is.  You need to schedule around the parameters or face the reality that Iowa is chewing on right now; step it up a little bit more in your out of conference or you could be on the outside looking in.  It’s not like Iowa needs to go out and schedule Duke or Florida; just schedule less horrible teams…teams ranked in the 150 to 200 range or that you feel may wind up there and stay the heck away from teams in the 300’s.

That’s not so simple, as teams in the lower leagues can change a great deal year to year as far as their competitiveness is concerned.  However, Iowa can do better and will starting next year.  Fran McCaffery has said this year’s team wound up being better than what he thought it would be when he was scheduling the season.  Even then, Iowa went 2-7 in games decided by four points or less in Big Ten play.  If it would have gone 4-5 in those games, Iowa would likely be in the NCAA tournament with the schedule it played this year.

  • harv01

    I understand the rationale, but when the Gophers got in as an 11 seed after Iowa pounded them by 20 and Gophers were 8-10 & lost 1st tourney game to Purdue, I’m appalled to say the least.

  • Don’t get the bitching.

    Dude it’s not a 3 game season. Minnesota has some great wins. Memphis (neutral), Michigan St., @ Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana (also Iowa). Iowa’s best wins are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and ISU. The fact that Iowa fans think these resumes are all that close is hilarious. If Iowa takes a bigger scalp or doesn’t lose to Nebraska they get in.

    • Tumblingrun

      Iowa had a better Big Ten and overall records than Minnesota. Iowa beat Minnesota twice. In their last ten games, Iowa went 7-3 while Minnesota was 3-7. Hard to justify that Minnesota was the more deserving team.

      • Get Ur Facts Str8

        You’re not looking at the whole season. It’s not 10 games and it’s not just the Big 10. You probably wouldn’t know that the committe doesn’t factor the record in the last 10 games anymore because it’s been so long since you’ve been considered (Hey-O!) Comparing overall records is a moronic joke (like you!) when UI’s SOS was in the 300’s. UI beat Minnesota ONCE not twice, they split the season series clown. Minnesota had much better and more wins than UI and almost the exact same bad losses. UI and MN both lost to Purdue and Nebraska. While MN lost to Northwestern and UI lost to Virginia Tech. So when you add it up… equal bad losses + more and better wins = Minnesota with a better resume. Not at all hard to justify unless you’re in idiot.

        • Enjoy the NIT

          I’m so good I had to repeat it!. Gonna take that victory strut now.

      • Only Facts

        You are so wrong it’s actually funny. It isn’t a 10 game season or even a Big 10 season. You’ve got to look at the whole season. The committee no longer looks at the record in the last 10 anymore but you wouldn’t know that as the Hawks haven’t been in consideration for that long. Comparing overall records when Iowa’s SOS was in the 300’s is hilarious (like you!). Iowa beat Minnesota ONCE, they split the season series. Only a squawk would blow a basic fact like that. Minnesota had more and better wins while the bad losses were almost exactly equal. Both lost to Neb. and Purdue while UI lost to VaTech and MN to Northwestern. When you add up equal bad losses and more and better wins what does it equal? A better resume. The people having a hard time justifying that are people wearing black and gold.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmie-Harms/100000439885952 Jimmie Harms

    I think it’s nice that as fans we were watching the selection show and being excited on the possibility, a little disappointed about the results, yes, because as fans we know we can compete at a high level and could have made a run, it’s been since 06 that I have actually been excited on selection Sunday, and that’s a good thing for our program and for us fans, I just hope our boys see this as an opportunity and not play like they feel like they were snubbed from the dance, were still playing basketball, and chances to improve, while other teams are starting there spring break

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.wright.775823 David Wright

    The three seed in the NIT bothers me more than the NCAA snub. I knew we had our opportunities to get into the NCAA and came up short, but a 3 seed in the NIT? Really?

  • louie

    the problem is 2-7 in 4 points or less.that has to be fixed.we have no right to bitch until you see the last 4 in.we should of been in instead of any of them.

  • San70

    The fact is if the Hawks had scheduled harder non conference this year they would have lost one or two. They never figured out how to win a close game. They are where they deserve to be, tougher schedule and two more losses equals 19-13 looks like NIT any way you cut it. With more experience coming back go schedule a little more difficult and come out next year 23-7 or so and back in NCAA tourny. Go Hawks make the most of NIT get to New York and show everybody what is in store next year.

  • Mopkins

    The thing that’s most disappointing is that Iowa is a better team than teams like Middle Tenn St who made it in and EVERYONE…including the committee…would agree with it. It just passes the eyeball test…conference schedule, close losses, etc. yet MTS goes to the tournament because of RPI. It’s a broken system

  • cjcoty

    Just as your weekly B1G Ten power rankings offered nothing to
    the discussion of the build up
    to post season B1G Ten play and always were really another “cut and
    paste” write up… this “analysis” really lacks any thing to add and has nothing to say about RPI, let alone clever
    insight to the on-going debate about RPI, the metrics. The “selection
    committee” decisions and transparency.

    Btw the screen shot has nothing to add and is confusing to
    any argument you may or may not have. In the middle of your article… just like
    this? Shheeesh Jon Wtf?

    Are you supporting
    the argument that RPI is a horribly failed metric and teams such as Iowa
    and Virginia should be in and teams such as Boise St, St Mary’s and Mid Tenn ST
    should be out? Who knows based on your
    waste of words and final comments.

    You have not done any homework based upon teams such as St
    Mary’s and Boise St that played D-II teams that they beat and that didn’t bring
    their SOS OOC ranking down in any
    way. D-II wins (or losses) aren’t even
    included!

    No thoughts on who you beat AND who you lose to and
    HOW? (competitiveness and scores and how
    you win or lose) No eyeball
    considerations? Once again just another
    lock step RPI ranking and inclusion in the 2013 NCAA’s and a lazy, lock-step
    analysis?

    Hoping the Hawks will run the table and have some fun in the
    Big Apple.

    Hoping either Fran can figure out how to game the OOC and
    the RPI or the RPI is thrown out or over-hauled.

    Hoping to continue to support and cheer , watch and DVR 5
    more games and see Eric May go out a champion.

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