In on a Technicality
I got a question on Twitter today from @ucswais:
Cincy fan. Has anyone +3 vs top 50 ever missed? Stands out huge on bubble grid.
And the answer isâ€¦ yes and no.
In my 12 years of historical selection and seeding data, there are 129 teams with records +3 over .500 or better against RPI top 50 teams. Of those teams, none of the eligible teams missed the field.
Notice how I said that.
In 2005, Ohio University was 5-1 against top 50 teams (though all were ranked 26-50) and were ranked 48th as of Selection Sunday. The Bobcats eliminated any at-large doubt by winning the MAC Tournament, but since they were seeded 13th - two seed lines behind the last at-large - they likely would not have been selected at-large.
After beating Arizona State on January 2, 2010, Southern Cal sported a 10-4 record and sat 30th in RPI. On January 3, 2010 the university announced self-imposed sanctions against the men's basketball program, including a ban on postseason that season.
The Trojans lost 10 of their last 16 games, including the final five, and finished the season ranked 112th and would not have made the field had they been eligible. Oddly enough, three wins after the sanctions announcement were over top 50 teams, propelling USC to a 6-3 record against the top 50.
So, while technically no eligible teams +3 or more over .500 against the top 50 missed the field, two of them probably would not have been selected at-large. Still, I'd take those odds.