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May 22, 2012

Learning from the LSU example

Last season the Selection Committee threw us all a Frisbee slider when LSU was left at home on Selection Day. That move rippled through with many changes both for the Tigers - who made some changes that resulted in an SEC regular season crown - and the expanded SEC Tournament.

LSU missed out on Hoover last season as the ninth place team in an eight-seed tournament. This season ninth place Ole Miss and tenth place Auburn get the opportunity to make a final impression on the committee - something LSU would have loved to do a season ago.

Will those extra games matter? Can the last drip of frosting make up for a dry, crumbly cake?

Committees are interesting animals. Their dynamics shift based on the personalities of their parts. One season a committee member might value conference standings while another may lean towards RPI or strength of schedule. How the teams and their strengths and weaknesses are often judged by how well each committee member exalts his preferences.

Last season St. John's - and their #51 RPI rank - received an at large bid with one win over a top 50 RPI team. They were 1-6 against the top 50 and 9-16 against the top 100. They did finish second in the Big East, a three-bid conference whose average RPI rank is 127.

Meanwhile LSU missed out with an #26 RPI rank largely due to being ninth in the SEC and not challenging themselves with non-conference road games.

So what does any of this have to do with anything other than salting open wounds on the Bayou. Maybe, nothing. Maybe, plenty.

Let me explain. No, there's too much. Let me sum up. (That was for the Princess Bride fans among us)

The SEC has some teams this season with surprisingly similar resumes to what LSU had in 2011.

Here are some resumes:

Team A: 36-20, pRPI #26, 5-11 (v25), 11-17 (v50), 18-18 (v100), 27-18 (v150), 12-3 (last 15), T9th in 1st rated conference, SOS #33, 7-11 (road rec), n/c SOS #94

Team B: 34-22, pRPI 23, 8-9 (v25), 14-16 (v50), 17-20 (v100), 26-22 (v150), 7-8 (last 15), 9th in 2nd rated conference, SOS #11, 7-14 (road rec), n/c SOS #50

Team C: 31-24, pRPI 50, 8-14 (v25), 10-16 (v50), 15-19 (v100), 19-23 (v150), 7-8 (last 15), 8th in 2nd rated conference, SOS #32, 6-11 (road rec), n/c SOS #73

Team D: 30-26, pRPI 57, 10-12 (v25), 11-17 (v50), 15-22 (v100), 19-25 (v150), 8-7 (last 15), 10th in 2nd rated conference, SOS #38, 7-13 (road rec), n/c SOS #78

Looking at these four resumes one could make an argument that Team A has the best resume of the group. That was LSU, a team left at home. So any SEC fans thinking the Ole Miss, Georgia, or Auburn have an at large bid locked up may want to tap the breaks.

Team A is LSU last year
Team B is Ole Miss this year
Team C is Georgia this year
Team D is Auburn this year

There's nothing definitive here. There is no "right" answer, just interpretations. The seasons are different and there is no way to tell yet how big the bubble will be on Memorial Day.

We'll continue to monitor the bids and research some other scenarios as the week continues.

Check back later today as we determine the bubble size heading into tournament play.



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