By now Falcons fans have found out that Bowling Green will not be playing in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. The NCAA selection committee did not select the Falcons for the 64-team field, and BG instead will play in the WNIT starting Thursday at home against High Point.
Did the Falcons deserve a berth in the NCAA tournament?
Well, let's start to answer that question by playing a little parlor game called, "Which team would YOU pick?" Here are part of the resume for four different teams; if I said you can pick three of the four, which three would you pick?
|Team A||Team B||Team C||Team D|
|Wins v. NCAA||2||6||5||4|
|Losses v. NCAA||2||7||8||8|
|Last 12 games||11-1||3-9||6-6||6-6|
I think it's obvious that "Team A" is Bowling Green, and it indeed is the Falcons. Did you have BG in your top three?
Well, the NCAA tournament selection committee did not: "Team B" is Vanderbilt, "Team C" is Florida and "Team D" is Florida State. The only one of those four teams that didn't make the field of 64 was the Falcons.
Let's note a few things. First, BG's RPI of 36 is better than two of the teams, but it is below the RPI of Florida State. But don't hang your hat on RPI, because that can come back to bite: Namely, the average RPI of the teams the Falcons beat was 188, far lower than that of Vanderbilt (133), Florida (138) and Florida State (142).
Second, let's note BG's performance against NCAA teams (by percentage) comes with an asterisk because there are so few games to consider compared to the other schools. If you use the team's record against the Top 100 teams (by RPI), here is what you get:
- Bowling Green is 0-1 against the Top 25 (loss to Purdue) but 2-3 against the Top 50 (split with CMU, loss to Marist, beat Ohio State) and 4-0 against Teams 51-100 (wins over Iona, Akron twice and Michigan). That totals to a 6-3 record.
- Vanderbilt is 4-5 against the Top 25, 6-6 against the Top 50 and 2-5 against Teams 51-100 for a 8-11 record against the Top 100.
- Florida is 2-5 against the Top 25, 5-8 against the Top 50 and 5-1 against Teams 51-100 for a 10-9 record against the Top 100.
- Florida State is 1-7 against the Top 25, 2-8 against the Top 50 and 7-2 against Teams 51-100 for a 9-10 record against the Top 100.
Advantage Bowling Green because of the better record against the Top 100, right? Wrong. Actually advantage to Vanderbilt for a 4-5 record against the Top 25. In short, the committee would view those numbers and say Vanderbilt is the team that has best proven that it can beat Top 25 teams, which is what you find in the NCAA tournament.
I know what you are thinking: Bowling Green struggles to get high RPI teams to play them, so they are at a disadvantage. To a degree, you are correct. The opposite side of that coin is simple: If you are a power school like these three are, you can have an easy non-conference schedule that the conference season covers up.
Did that happen? Well, first a look at Bowling Green's 10-3 non-conference schedule (the Ball State tournament game is included for some unknown reason), which came against a schedule ranked 146th in terms of RPI.
Vanderbilt went 11-3 in non-conference against a schedule ranked 84th; Florida was 11-4 against a schedule ranked 228th; and Florida State was 13-2 against a schedule ranked 58th. Advantage Vanderbilt and Florida State over BG and Florida, in my opinion.
For the record, I would not argue Vanderbilt and Florida State in the tournament; picking Florida over BG is a mistake, in my opinion. The Gators record against its non-conference record strength of schedule puts it behind the other three schools, and its winning record against Top 100 RPI is topped by the Falcons better record in the same circumstance. And Florida also lost three times to teams with an RPI of 101 or more (one of those was to Missouri, which was RPI 101), so its 9-3 record in that circumstance is far worse than BG's 21-1 mark.
Unfortunately, here's the main reason I think these three schools were chosen over Bowling Green: The Ball State loss in the Mid-American Conference tournament is a "bad" loss. The Cardinals 129 RPI hurts a lot, as does the fact the Falcons lost by 18 points. Vandy lost by two points to nationally ranked Kentucky; the Gators are coming off five-point loss to highly regarded Kentucky, while Florida State's 26-point loss is excusable when you consider it was administered by Notre Dame, arguably the best team in the country.
I should stress that this is all theory, not hard facts. If you want a set of "facts" that supports BG's candidacy, note that the site Real Time RPI has a "bracketology" that has the Falcons in the tournament as a No. 9 seed. It also has Florida State in as a 9 and Florida in as a 12; it does NOT have Vanderbilt in the field, and it has at least one other at-large that didn't make the official field in its bracket, that being tenth-seeded Minnesota.
And that stresses another point: All I did was compare BG to other teams that made it. I didn't include other teams that felt they may have been snubbed, such as Minnesota, Southern Mississippi (the only team with an RPI better than BG that didn't make the field), and others.
My advice: Enjoy the fact that the Falcons are still playing games in the post-season, and enjoy the WNIT.
Click here to read a story in Tuesday's Blade about Bowling Green not receiving an NCAA bid, and being selected to play in the WNIT.