With a holiday break that won’t see the Friars playing again until New Year’s Eve in their first Big East game of the year against Creighton, talk now turns to what PC has to do in the league to secure an NCAA bid. And, naturally, that talk concerns RPI. At the time of this article, PC’s RPI slotted in at 32 on RealTimeRPI.com, the site sponsored by the NCAA, and 28 on Live-RPI.com. When considering Providence’s position at this point, the 32 number is probably closer to the truth.
The NCAA selection committee has made it clear that it looks heavily at who teams have beaten, and especially at Top 50 wins and Top 100 wins. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the current RPI’s of teams on PC’s schedule:
|RPI’s of teams on PC’s schedule|
|TEAM||REAL RPI||LIVE RPI||W-L|
There are also two losses that hurt – at #159 Boston College, and more damagingly, home against #235 Brown. Boston College figures to be in the lower third of the ACC, but their RPI shouldn’t drop too much when they get into league play because of the ACC’s strength. Brown, on the other hand, will remain a bad loss all season, as playing in the Ivy League will afford the Bears very little opportunity to move their position, outside of games against Harvard and Yale.
Rhode Island and Massachusetts are very interesting cases. Both have surprisingly low RPI’s, but that works in Providence’s favor. Both now move into A-10 play and may see their RPI’s move up as a result. Unlike last year, outside of VCU, the A-10 is not particularly strong, and as teams start beating each in league play, there won’t be many opportunities to build on their RPI’s. As a result, URI may not end up as a Top 50 win.
Despite 10 OOC wins, many wonder why PC’s RPI is in the high 40’s entering league play. The answer can be found in the chart above. Six of the Friars’ wins are to teams outside the Top 100. The best of these wins is against Notre Dame on a neutral court. Notre Dame is currently ranked 16th in the polls and is a legitimately good team, however, Mike Brey should be ashamed of his non-league schedule. It’s so soft that, despite a 12-1 record, the Irish are only #97 in RPI. They’ve got work to do, but the good news for PC is that this win should be a Top 100 win by the end of the year, if Notre Dame plays up to its’ potential in the ACC.
Meanwhile, other early wins over teams like Albany, Binghamton, Navy, Florida State and Stony Brook are drags on PC’s RPI, and will likely continue to be. None of these teams figures to move much once league play begins, because, outside of the Seminoles, all play in poor RPI leagues. Navy and Binghamton are in the 300’s. Binghamton is truly awful, at 0-12 and with an RPI of 344. It would be hard to schedule a worse team, RPI-wise.
The good news is that it’s Big East time and Big East teams had an outstanding out of conference season, racking up a number of quality wins. Of the ten league teams, only Creighton and DePaul reside outside of the Top 100, and only DePaul would be a truly bad loss. On the other hand, the opportunities for RPI boosting wins will come early and often for Providence. Villanova, Seton Hall and St. John’s all represent excellent opportunities for RPI jumps. Games against Georgetown, Xavier, Butler and Marquette won’t move the RPI much either way, unless the Friars can pull off road wins.
For PC, the formula is simple at this point. Avoid the truly bad losses (DePaul); guard home court and beat who you should beat at home (starting with Creighton); and steal a few road wins. A 10-8 league record gets PC to 20 wins before the Big East Tournament, but total number of wins isn’t the be-all. Who you beat and how many Top 50 and Top 100 wins is what gets you in. And PC has a good start on that and will have many chances to add to those numbers. Destiny is firmly in the Friars’ hands.