Aggies enter Lunardi's bracket as a 13th seed. That's probably all that can be expected and shows new respect as he previously had Bakersfield listed as a 15th seed from the WAC. If NMSU blows the WAC up... can we get a coveted 12th seed?
Maybe I'm the crazy one here, but I cannot imagine a team with no top 50 games let alone top 50 wins getting a single digit seed. Regardless of overall record. For as long as I can remember, the committee has consistently rewarded tough schedules and wins against good teams and penalized poor schedules and losses against bad teams (which we will have at least one of.)
Go to the UtAg board if you doubt me, they have copious experience with this sort of thing. The gist of the argument is "yeah, any middling to decent team would be 30-2 with that schedule."
I think if NMSU runs the table and finishes 30-2, they will not get better than an 11 seed. NMSU will not get any play-in games unless they are one of the four lowest (weakest) automatic bids or unless they are one of the last four at-large bids. If NMSU wins the WAC tournament they will be stuck between a 11 and a 14 seed. Anything better requires a better OOC schedule... maybe next year.
We'll have to see where our RPI lands. If we land in the 30's, we could get a good seed.
This site, which doesn't yet include conference tournaments, suggests we top out at RPI 40 with an undefeated WAC season. The year that Utah St won the Big West regular season and got snubbed, they had an RPI of 43, and almost exactly the same schedule profile that we will have presuming a WAC tourney win.
I apologize for belaboring this point, but we won't have the good wins necessary for a decent seed.
In the UtAg snub year (2004), they were ranked, had steamrolled the Big West, then lost in the semis of their conference tourney. It is possible they would have gotten in had they lost in the finals, and to be fair, they were a highly controversial omission and one of the driving forces behind the expansion to 68 teams 6 years later. Had they made it, they would have been a 12, which is one of the reasons I think we top out at a 12.
The Selection Committee, in both word and deed, has continually emphasized the importance of playing and winning game against top50 opponents. For whatever reason, we don't have any of those on our schedule this year. Don't expect us to merit an at-large with a WAC tourney loss, and don't expect us to rise above the seed line typically reserved for the best of the small conference autobids - 12. I would be thrilled beyond belief to be wrong and see us in a 6-11 game or 7-10 game. 8-9 is less appealing because you are seeing a 1 seed in round 2.
Re: seeding. Obviously the higher seed we get, the lesser talented opponent we face. (Assuming that seeding is accurate, which it never is.) Since with our schedule it is impossible to get to an 8 seed (where we would be favored), it would be good to examine what is our goal for the tournament. (There is a LOT of season left plus the conference tournament, so no guarantee.) If our only goal is to only win 1 tournament game, we want the lowest possible seed to increase our chances for an upset. But if we want to set our goal on the Sweet Sixteen we may want to look a little different on what seeding we would want. (Given our present conference affiliation and conference strength this might be our most realistic goal). If we get a 16, 15, 9 or 10 seed, we are looking at facing a 1 or 2 seed in either the first or second games - Very tall order). If we get a 14 seed, it would be a 3 seed (first game). If we got an 11 seed it would also be a 3 seed (second game). So it looks like the 13 seed (face 4 seed first game), or the 12 seed (face 4 seed second game) would be our best bet to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. This of course assumes that higher seeds don't get upset before we potentially meet them. This is the seed position we had the last time we advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, although we did get an assist by an upset of the 4 seed.
Unless we schedule a tougher OOC, the 12 or 13 seed is our best bet to advance. We have scheduled very tough teams in the past, but this is very risky because blowouts do not allow for the confidence needed for a team to progress.
Yeah the schedule just isn't good enough for you to get a good seed or an at-large. 12 seeds are not that bad though and they win about 34% of the time. A shame Pascal went out early otherwise this team could be scary good.
As was shown 2 years ago against Kansas, 15 and 16 seeds are the games that are almost insurmountable. The 1 and 2 seeds of the tournament tend to be where you really start seeing the separation of basketball's elites vs. everyone else. Upsets happen, but it just seems like a 12, 13, or even 14 seed is much more approachable than a 15 or 16.