The Eagles are 1-1 against other teams in the top-50 and 5-1 versus all other division one opponents. In games against D-1 oppositions, FGCU has a scoring margin of 6.7 points per game, which is good for 82nd in the nation.
It is still early for bracketology, but FGCU has been seeded everywhere from a 13 seed down to a 16 seed. The more FGCU handles their business the lower that number is likely to be. TeamRankings.com gives FGCU a 32.1% chance of making the big dance as of right now, which is about twelve percent behind USC Upstate who has been surging as of late with key victories over Georgia Tech and Mississippi State.
UCSB: After a slow start which saw the Gauchos drop their first two games at Kansas and at FGCU, they have gone on to win five of their next eight and seen their RPI climb up to 101st. Their rank should continue to rise thanks to the strength of their remaining non-conference games. This in turn will make FGCU’s victory over them look better and give the Eagles a solid non-conference win. The Eagles and the Gauchos will meet again on January 5th, which will be a pivotal matchup for the Eagles if they want to secure a decent seed in the tournament.
Ohio: The Ohio Bobcats have struggled thus far in 2014, falling to 3-4 on the season with an RPI of 242. Ohio has played a relatively easy schedule to this point and it doesn’t get much tougher the rest of the way. The Bobcats are in the Mid-American Conference which is a step up from the A-Sun and the competition, this fact alone will boost Ohio’s RPI and will only serve to improve FGCU’s standing with the committee come selection time.
Marist: Arguably the worst team the Eagles have played this team has been the Red Foxes. The lone win for Marist was against Fresno State in the seventh place game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. This was a game the Eagles were favored to win and they did not disappoint. Marist’s RPI is ranked an abysmal 332nd out of 351.
San Francisco: The Dons are a mediocre 6-6 with an RPI over 200, which does not look very good, but they play in a very good conference and even if they continue to struggle, the rest of the conference is strong enough to lift them to a top-150 RP, if not better. Additionally if San Francisco is able to get their act together, that number has a chance to climb even higher - giving the Eagles another quality win.
Green Bay: The Eagles suffered their first loss of the season versus the Phoenix of Green Bay in the championship of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Although the loss is disappointing, it is not as damaging as it would seem to the untrained eye. Green Bay has a fantastic RPI of 16 and peaked at number one in the nation earlier in the year. Barring a collapse of epic proportions Green Bay’s RPI will be in the top 100 at the end of the season. This will not hurt the Eagles as long as we continue to win the games we should and then steal one or two more on the road.
South Dakota State: Since losing to FGCU on November 30th the Jackrabbits have rattled off seven straight victories. This run has included impressive victories over Saint Louis and Utah State, both of whom should be contenders for the big dance when it is all said and done. SDSU has a few more out of conference games against top tier competition - they should finish with an RPI around 150.
Massachusetts: Possibly FGCU’s best regular season victory away from Alico ever, the Minutemen have played a very ambitious out of conference schedule. Even though they have had their struggles thus far, you wouldn’t know it by looking at their RPI (43). UMass has given themselves a chance to earn key non-conference victories with games against BYU and Iona, before going into conference play.
Florida International: The most disappointing game for the Eagles this season was against the Panthers, who are a mundane 6-6. FIU is 139th in the nation in RPI and unfortunately they don’t play in a power conference. Even if they play well the rest of the way it is unlikely that the Panthers finish with an RPI above 200, which makes this loss hurt even more.
Furman: The Eagles bounced back from the FIU loss with a win over the Paladins. Furman is not a great team this year, and the Eagles needed to handle business - which they did. Furman is ranked 248th in the nation and are going to hurt FGCU’s RPI. Outside of a game at Minnesota next week, the Paladins don’t have any chances to make a splash and help FGCU.
Atlantic Sun: The Atlantic Sun as a whole is ranked as the is a poultry 28th out of 33 conferences. Although the conference’s RPI is weak there have been a couple of bright spots. FGCU, USC Upstate, and North Florida have all scored victories over top level competition. Upstate has beaten both Georgia Tech and Mississippi State away from home, to go along with FGCU’s victory over UMass. To top it all off, North Florida went to West Lafayette and upset Purdue. These wins, along with the post season success the Atlantic Sun has experienced in the last couple of years, do wonders for the conference image.
So what does all mean for the Eagles? Honestly, not much until FGCU finds a better conference or builds the clout necessary to be a consistent at-large threat. The only way the Eagles are making the big dance is via the conference tournament. FGCU has been impressive through the first eleven games of the season, but the last five games of the non-conference schedule are the types of games that could put the Eagles over the top for a possible at-large bid. The only thing the Eagles can do at this point is continue to play hard and win as many games as possible. As the season progresses we will track the progression of the Eagles and each of their non-conference opponents as well as the rest of the conference.