BracketBusters: Games that could impact NCAA selection
Of all the BracketBuster games released this week, only three may impact NCAA selection/seeding next month. William & Mary’s trip to Iona isn’t among those three. Iona is a worthy opponent, but beating the Gaels (RPI No. 83 as of Feb. 3) wouldn’t be the type of victory likely push the Tribe toward the Field of 65. In fact, losing could actually hurt their chances. Not an ideal situation. Which matchups could matter? Here they are …
Old Dominion @ Northern Iowa – The Monarchs have non-conference wins at Georgetown and versus Charlotte (home). They’ve also swept William & Mary. ODU’s only mistep of note was against fellow CAA contender George Mason (RPI No. 103). With Northern Iowa in strong NCAA position, a road victory would be another significant scalp for ODU. As for UNI, beating the Monarchs (RPI No. 45) would give the Panthers another potential Top 50 win on their resume. An important matchup for both teams, but probably most critical for Old Dominion.
Wichita State @ Utah State – While Utah State (RPI No. 55) is a fringe at-large candidate at this point, the Aggies are one of only two teams to beat BYU. Beating Wichita State – the Missouri Valley’s second best team – would certainly help a suspect profile. The Shockers’ profile has holes, too – especially when you consider WSU’s weak non-conference schedule (No. 319). In terms of Top 100 wins, Wichita State is 4-1 while USU is 4-4. Given the value of road wins, the game might be more critical to Wichita State – in part because the Shockers aren’t likely to catch Northern Iowa in the Valley standings.
Siena @ Butler – Perhaps the top BracketBusters matchup. Both played strong non-conference schedules, and while neither excelled, the Bulldogs fared better – beating Xavier and Ohio State (sans Evan Turner) at home and winning at Northwestern. Siena, meanwhile, missed chances at Temple, at Northern Iowa, at Georgia Tech, and versus St. John’s. While the Saints are rolling through the MAAC (much like Butler is through the Horizon), this matchup is most critical to Siena. Butler will likely be Dancing regardless – Siena could really use a top 50 RPI win on its resume.
Thoughts? Different opinion? Rebounds are always welcome. Credit the RPI and SOS data to CollegeRPI.com.