Weak SEC? Doesn’t Matter

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There has been much talk this year that the SEC is weak, and if you believe the rankings and such, that’s true. Not a single SEC team is ranked in either top-25 poll, and only three teams rank in the top 50 of the RPI. But good news, Mississippi State fans: None of that matters.

The only RPI that matters is State’s, which is currently 79, according to Collegiate Basketball News. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who chairs the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, said in a teleconference this afternoon that, basically, conference RPI means diddly-squat come tournament selection time.

“The committee is not going to consider conference RPIs, it’s not going to be a factor,” said Slive. “The emphasis here is on what a team has done or not done to earn a slot as one of the top 34 (at-large) teams in the country.”

MSU (16-7, 6-2 SEC), as I’ve mentioned, has its toughest stretch of games coming up. With eight games left in the regular season, each one become progressively greater in magnitude. Coaches don’t like to look at it that way, but MSU’s Rick Stansbury understands how the stretch run is perceived. “At the end of your season there are games getting magnified, even though they all count the same – one win and one loss,” he said Monday.

Slive said the committee is careful not to put too much emphasis on the final few games. “There’s always been a discussion about the last 12 games, and the importance of the last 12 games can vary from committee member to committee member. I think the important thing here is you have to look at the entire year, you have to drill down very, very carefully into what the last 12 games really meant, especially in conference schedules when they’re not playing home-and-home.”

Notable: Of MSU’s four upcoming games against the SEC’s highest-rated (RPI) teams, three of them are in Starkville: LSU (52), South Carolina (43) and Florida (30). Only Tennessee (21) is a road trip. None of those teams are ranked, of course, although LSU just missed out in both polls this week (Florida and South Carolina also received votes). I should note that while the conference RPI per se won’t affect whether MSU is selected, the fact remains that the conference rating is affected by the teams’ collective ratings, which means MSU doesn’t have as good a chance at improving its RPI as a team from the Big East.

Here’s a comparison between MSU and those four teams:

• Tennessee: RPI – 20; record – 14-8 (5-3 SEC)

• Florida: RPI – 30; record – 19-4 (6-2)

• South Carolina: RPI – 43; record – 17-5 (6-3)

• LSU: RPI – 52; record – 19-4 (7-1)

• Mississippi State: RPI – 79; record – 16-7 (6-2)

One more thought from Slive: “It’s never just looking at one team standing alone, it’s always looking at teams in comparison to other teams.”

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One Response to “Weak SEC? Doesn’t Matter”

  1. darkcooger Says:

    Good info, Brad. I wonder if having Slive lead the selection committee helps the SEC at all. I would hope they’d be impartial, but all things considered, it might be nice if Slive wasn’t, just this once. 😛

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