Luke Winn has posed 10 burning questions for Selection Sunday. I'll give a shot at answering a few.

6. Did Illinois really do enough this weekend to make it in the dance as an at-large?
7. How scared should Cal be of getting relegated to the NIT?
8. Could Virginia Tech get snubbed again?
9. Is Utah State in danger after losing in the WAC title game?

I've combined most of the at-large selection questions into one. There are by most accounts at least 10 teams still under public debate for the final at-large spots. (Illinois, Florida, California, Virginia Tech, UTEP, Utah State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Rhode Island, Seton Hall).

The debate between Virginia Tech and California references is particularly intriguing because it combines two of the traditional philosophical at-large questions: how much do non-conference scheduling and conference standings matter? (SOS numbers from

NonConf SOS339 1
NonConf W-L13-18-4
NonConf RPI9210
Conf rankT-31

Cal clearly has the edge in non-conference strength of schedule (and performance as measured by non-conference RPI). They also won the regular season title in what is traditionally a power conference. The problem is that the Pac 10 is not a power conference this season.

To help answer the question of which team has a better resume, let's take a look at their wins and losses side-by-side. We did something like this earlier this week, but I've tweaked the layout to make comparisons easier.

Again, the ideas is to match each team's wins and losses ranked by opponent RPI to assess the relative quality. The Avg column represents the average opponent RPI rank over all games up to that point. For example, through their best four wins Virginia Tech's opponents averaged a 41 RPI rank and Cal's opponents averaged 55; in this case VT's average opponent is ranked higher than Cal's so their rank is highlighted. Over the full profile, this makes it easier to see trends.


Virginia Tech (23 wins)California (23 wins)
8882Georgia Tech (32)A3242HWashington (42)9381
7059Clemson (34)H3346HMurray St. (49)7570
8783Wake Forest (36)H3452HArizona St. (64)6246
10394Seton Hall (61)N4155AArizona St. (64)7870
7470North Carolina (88)H5063HUC Santa Barbara (94)8766
8166Miami FL (95)H5869HArizona (98)9571
7159North Carolina St. (97)H6375HIowa St. (113)8263
7252North Carolina St. (97)A6880HSouthern California (114)6759
7462Georgia (104)H7285APacific (128)7954
6362Boston College (122)H7790HPrinceton (133)8160
6155Virginia (126)H8194HOregon (139)8957
7671Virginia (126)A8598NOregon (139)9074
7160Campbell (183)A92101AOregon (139)6449
6664Penn St. (193)A100104NUCLA (141)8572
7064Iowa (209)A107107AUCLA (141)7258
7466Delaware (235)N115109HJacksonville (148)7947
5946NC Greensboro (248)H123112HStanford (164)9266
6955Brown (253)H130115AStanford (164)7161
7350Charleston Southern (280)H138118HDetroit (171)9561
8550Longwood (281)H145121HWashington St. (174)8670
9873Virginia Military Inst (302)H152123AWashington St. (174)9388
7134MD Baltimore County (327)H160126HOregon St. (185)6561
7230North Carolina Central (342)H168136HUtah Valley (339)8551

Through their first 12 wins, VT's opponents were on average about 10 RPI spots better than Cal's. After that, it swings quickly in the other direction. If you care more about wins at the top of the profile, the Hokies are your team.


Virginia Tech (8 losses)California (10 losses)
6080Boston College (122)A122185AOregon St. (185)6480
6570Miami FL (95)N109163HUCLA (141)7576
7582Miami FL (95)A104147ASouthern California (114)6366
6478North Carolina (88)A100135AArizona (98)7276
5863Florida St. (41)A88116AWashington (42)6984
100104Maryland (22)H77104NWashington (42)7579
5061Temple (12)N6893NOhio St. (26)7076
5567Duke (3)A6082ANew Mexico (11)7886
  NSyracuse (5)7395
  AKansas (1)6984

The Hokies have two fewer losses than Cal, and their worst losses are better. If we care more about the quality of a team's better wins and losses, Virginia Tech comes out there clear winner here. Of course, the numbers are not the only thing the committee uses, but this kind of comparison does a better job of simply looking at records against arbitrary groups like RPI Top 50.

Obviously, we can't show head-to-head comparison between all of these teams (10 teams = 45 comparisons), so I'll do a few interesting ones in separate posts and link to them here.