10. Five losses by a combined total of 18 points, an average of margin of defeat of 3.6 points per game. Notre Dame had an average margin of defeat of 14.1 points in six losses.
9. If Notre Dame deserves consideration for a No. 1 seed, so does Louisville, Syracuse and UConn. If we're going to say Notre Dame is a No. 1 seed because they beat Pitt and were hot down the stretch, Louisville has a notch up on Notre Dame. They too beat Pitt, even later in the season. On top of that, the Cardinals knocked the Irish from the Big East Tournament and made the conference championship game. Syracuse has the same number of wins as Notre Dame, so if we're going by win total, give Syracuse consideration too.
UConn, thanks to its win Saturday night in the championship game, deserves consideration as well. In addition to winning the conference tournament, they also have the same number of wins as Notre Dame.
8. Common opponents favor Pitt. Pitt's four Big East losses (Big East Tournament teams included) came to UConn, St. John's, Louisville and of course Notre Dame. Even though Notre Dame beat UConn in the regular season, Pitt lost to St. John's by a point on a buzzer beater on the road. Notre Dame lost to St. John's by 18. Pitt lost to Louisville on the road by three in an overtime game, while the Irish blew a 14-point lead against Louisville on Friday night, losing by six in overtime.
Throw West Virginia in for that matter. Pitt beat West Virginia both times, while Notre Dame lost in Morgantown by 14—which by the way was later in the season, where the Irish were one of the hottest teams in the country.
The St. John's loss alone should eliminate Duke from any kind of talk, being that Pitt lost to St. John's by one. Throw in Duke's loss to Virginia Tech for good measure. If Notre Dame is indeed out of the question as Pitt's main competition for a number-one seed, then the talk turns to the ACC. Duke has four losses by an average of 9.5 points. Two of Duke's four losses were to teams in the Top 25 RPI. Those other two losses came to Florida State and Virginia Tech, ranked No. 54 and No. 61 in RPI.
If North Carolina wins the ACC Tournament, it's a no-brainer for the Tar Heels to get a No. 1 seed. In that case, Duke--based on the fact they didn't win the ACC regular season, and the fact they lost the conference tournament, does not deserve a No. 1 seed. Duke's case for a No. 1 seed is as relevant as Notre Dame's--neither won their conference tournament, neither finished the regular season in first place.
If Duke wins the ACC Tournament, it really opens things up. Lets take a look at conference RPI. Pitt finished the regular season in a 16-team conference, that has the highest conference RPI. North Carolina wins the ACC regular season title; a conference with the fifth-best conference RPI. It it comes to this, conference RPI is the one thing that separates the two teams, and the nod goes to Pitt.
6. In addition to whoever loses out in the ACC race, a number of teams thought to be candidates for a No. 1 seed as recent as last week (Purdue, BYU, San Diego State, Texas), have done little to help themselves. If North Carolina wins the ACC, they've certainly got a good lock on a No. 1 seed based on their history and their following. The committee will take those things into account. Purdue lost to Iowa at the end of the regular season, and was removed from the Big Ten Tournament by Michigan State. BYU and San Diego State have traded punches with each other over the last week, almost cancelling each other out from any talk of No. 1 seeds. Texas has been out for awhile. Any remaining hope they had of a No. 1 seed was lost when they lost convincingly to Kansas
5. RPI. Thanks to UConn winning the Big East Tournament on Saturday night, Pitt was eliminated by the conference champ, while Notre Dame was eliminated by the runner-up. Entering the game, Notre Dame was No. 7 in the country in RPI, while Pitt was No. 9 in the country in RPI. As a result of Saturday's outcome in the Big East Tournament, RPI will reverse the respective rankings of Pitt and Notre Dame.
On the subject of RPI. Notre Dame was 7-5 vs. teams ranked in the top 25 in RPI. Pitt was 6-4. Sure, Notre Dame has one more win, but they also have one more loss. Unless it was a significant difference in opposition, or more wins against a couple of key non-conference teams in the Top 5 of RPI, the committee doesn't have too much more to go off of.
4. Strength of schedule. If strength of schedule was truly a factor, Georgetown, Tennessee, West Virginia and UConn would be your top three seeds for the NCAA Tournament. Conveniently, all four of those teams have had to play Pitt, just one example of how that strength of schedule works being that Pitt has been in the top ten all season, and a top-five team for much of the season.
Pitt's strength of schedule is currently No. 28, while Notre Dame's is No. 18. Duke's is No. 32. Does it really matter? The reason teams get high strength of schedule ratings is determined on what their opponents have done, win or lose. Teams like Georgetown and West Virginia have played, and in some cases beaten teams ranked ahead of them, which gives them that lofty rating in the strength of schedule department. Again, though, if seeding is going to be determined by strength of schedule, then Georgetown, Tennessee, West Virginia and UConn are your top three seeds.
3. Kemba Walker. There's no question that Kemba Walker earned every bit of the Big East Tournament MVP honor. He beat Pitt on a buzzer beater, and led his team to five wins in five days, no easy task.
If Pitt had gotten blown out by UConn. It might be a different story, but they got beat by a player who statistically had the best Big East Tournament ever; 130 points scored in five games, an average of 26.0 points per game. For as good a tournament as he had, his shot against Pitt was the most his back was up against the wall during the entire week.
2. UConn wins it all. Though RPI will dictate it too, Pitt was eliminated by the team who won the Big East Tournament. Notre Dame was eliminated by the runner-up. In hindsight, it's all the more impressive that Pitt actually led the Huskies by 12 at one point in that quarterfinal game, now looking back at UConn's remarkable run at Madison Square Garden.
1. Pitt has won something. Pitt clinched the regular season championship. While critics can continuously point out the loss to Notre Dame, the Irish still finished in second place overall. Fact. Notre Dame could have increased their chances by winning the conference tournament. By losing out in the semifinals, they have no claim to any kind of championship; regular season or conference tournament.
Therefore, it makes no sense to unseat a team like Pitt who actually has claim to a title of some sorts, such as a regular season title in the Big East, just because another team has a hot streak. The Irish had a tremendous season, no question about it. But when looking comparing resumes, and lists of accomplishments in the 2010-11season, Pitt has a regular season title, and a more reasonable out in the Big East Tournament.
North Carolina and Duke might be able to throw some weight around, but when it comes down to conference RPI and strength of schedule, and perhaps even some other simpler factors such as what these teams did against common opponents, Pitt still deserves the nod.