Examining RMU and LIUs NCAA Tournament profiles
With the final two teams decided in the Northeast Conference, Colonials Corner is taking a look at their NCAA Tournament profiles. Which team provides the chance for a higher seed? Remember, it's not just RPI alone.
Plus, Robert Morris/LIU fans have a couple days to wait for the championship and then the winner has a couple days to wait beyond that. Which conferences and teams will be of particular interest to RMU and LIU fans? Which games will directly impact their seeds?
Colonials Corner broke it down for each team.
Current RPI: 90
Non-conference RPI: 171
Non-conference strength of schedule: 271
Record against RPI Top 100 teams: 2-1
The Skinny: LIU has an impressive 24 wins, but they have a mediocre non-conference schedule. In fact, LIU's only Top 100 RPI wins came against Wagner in conference play. But they've been consistent, and have only two losses to teams below an RPI of 200 (Hofstra and Monmouth). Though they have a better RPI right now than Robert Morris, LIU will actually need more help to get a higher seed. Currently they're a high enough 16-seed to avoid any of the play-in games, and a win over Robert Morris might be enough to boost them into a low 15-seed spot.
Who Can Help If LIU Wins: Vermont winning the America East wouldn't hurt, but that league is so poorly rated that the impact would be negligible at this point. Beyond that, LIU has to root for some one-bid upsets. That includes Lehigh knocking off Bucknell in the Patriot League final, both Weber St. and Montana losing in the Big Sky tournament, Detroit beating Valparaiso in the Horizon League final, and Western Carolina knocking off Davidson in the Southern Conference final.
The Reality: LIU wins, gets a little bit of help, and locks itself into a high 15 seed. If everything goes right, they might sneak into a low 14 seed, but that'd be very, very serendipitous. It's far more likely Davidson, Bucknell, and Valpo all win, leaving LIU as a 16 seed. Though every tournament is different, LIU was a 15-seed last year with a 75 RPI because their only quality wins were over Robert Morris.
Current RPI: 107
Non-conference RPI: 48
Non-conference strength of schedule: 119
Record against RPI Top 100 teams: 4-5
The Skinny: Where LIU hasn't grabbed marquee wins and beaten who they should, Robert Morris has a little bit of both. They played a significantly tougher non-conference schedule and came away with a better record, but they have a few more eyebrow raising losses. The wins over La Salle, Ohio, LIU, and now Wagner help the profile. But the conference losses to CCSU and St. Francis (N.Y.) hurt the profile. What also has hurt is a couple previously higher ranked teams falling off down the stretch, including Duquesne tumbling out of the RPI Top 100. The Dukes aren't far out, so if they can put together a couple wins in the A-10 tournament, it could help Robert Morris significantly. Right now, Robert Morris is probably a solid 15 seed.
Who Can Help If RMU Wins: Duquesne making a run, even if they don't win the A-10, will be a huge lift. Ohio can also help raise the RPI by making a deep run in the MAC, as can La Salle in the A-10.
Robert Morris would certainly benefit from having the same teams as LIU lose, but the Colonials actually match up well with those squads, outside of league strength of schedule. Comparing just non-conference resumes, Robert Morris has a better non-conference RPI than Valparaiso, a better non-conference RPI and similar strength of schedule to Bucknell, and a better non-conference RPI yet slightly weaker strength of schedule than MAC leader Akron.
The Reality: If Robert Morris wins, they look like a legitimate 15-seed. If they get some help, it's reasonable to see them as a low 14 seed. More likely is the Colonials return to the NCAA Tournament as a 15-seed, which is where they ended up the last two times they made it in. Robert Morris had and RPI of 129 when they played Villanova and 109 when they played Michigan State, but didn't have anywhere close to the non-conference resume that they do now.
Ultimately winning is the goal for either team. They're not in position to quibble over their seeding, not until the Northeast Conference rises above the mid-20s when it comes to league RPI. But with so much youth in the league, it'd be nice to see either of these teams get a reasonable seed and boost their overall profile for what could be a truly special season next year.
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.