USA TODAY Sports' Eric Prisbell takes a weekly look at two NCAA tourney-worthy résumés.
When the NCAA tournament selection committee makes decisions on at-large berths and seeds, it sometimes covers the names of the schools on team reports to focus solely on the bodies of work.
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It helps committee members make decisions based on who teams played, where they played and how they did, and guarantees that no one is influenced by a school's name.
OK, you're a member of the selection committee. It's March 16, the day the 68-team bracket is unveiled. And you're holed up in a downtown Indianapolis hotel debating which team should get the final at-large bid. Let's cover the names of the schools on the resumes and decide which has the stronger … or least flawed overall body of work. You decide.
TEAM A RÉSUMÉ
- Record vs. Division I: 17-11
- RPI: 43
- Road/Neutral court record: 3-8
- Non-league Strength of schedule: 29
- Vs. top 50 teams: 4-7
- Vs. top 100: 6-9
- Vs. sub-300: 0-0
- Best RPI wins: 5, 18, 38
- Worst RPI losses: 117, 113, 85
- Analysis: These are teams competing for the final at-large bid. So the résumés are going to be flawed or bland. Yes, this one is flawed. The road record is poor. The record against top 100 teams is well under .500. There's also two losses to teams with RPIs worse than 100, which actually could be worse. This team did play a competitive non-league schedule and the four wins against top 50 RPI teams is noteworthy for a team slotted this low in the at-large field.
TEAM B RÉSUMÉ
- Record Vs. Division I: 18-11
- RPI: 63
- Road/Neutral court record: 5-7
- Non-league Strength of schedule: 130
- Vs. top 50 teams: 1-5
- Vs. top 100: 5-9
- Vs. sub-300: 1-0
- Best RPI wins: 7, 60, 62
- Worst RPI losses: 138, 116, 62
- Analysis: The selection committee says it does not make decisions strictly based on a team's overall RPI. But this RPI is certainly in the danger zone. It also has two losses to teams worse than 100 in the RPI. Its record against top 100 RPI teams is well under .500, which is a serious red flag. The non-league strength of schedule is certainly nothing to brag about.
First, let's say this: If you miss the cut this season, you have only yourself to blame. All of the résumés in the mix for the last of the at-large bids are flawed or bland. And it likely will boil down to the committee deciding which résumé is least flawed among the teams in contention for the "First Four" in Dayton.
This particular exercise relies on just a handful of various criteria. The selection committee, of course, will have a lot more data to weigh when it makes decisions in a few weeks. I actually thought the debate between these two resumes would be a close call.
Yes, Team B has played better away from home. But, for me, the decision here boils down to two categories. Team A has played a much better non-league schedule. And Team A has beaten four top 50 RPI teams. Team B has beaten just one. Team A gets the final at-large bid and heads to Dayton.
Who are the teams?
Team A is Minnesota.
Team B is St. John's.
St. John's has beaten just one top 50 team – Creighton. The Big East has its share of bubble teams, but a team such as Georgetown is not rated among the top 50.
Minnesota benefits from playing a rigorous Big Ten schedule. But the Golden Gophers also have beaten their share of NCAA tournament-bound Big Ten teams, including Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Both St. John's and Minnesota have plenty of work to do before Selection Sunday. But don't be surprised if those quality Big Ten victories help squeeze Minnesota into the field … barely.
Eric Prisbell, a national college basketball reporter for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @EricPrisbell.