Marshall Was Screwed

We hear it every year the night and day following Selection Sunday: “Tech was hosed! State was screwed!”

Sometimes the arguments are iffy-at-best, sometimes they suck. This year, its clear as night and day that a team was screwed: Marshall.

Twitter erupted like Mount St. Helens after Iona was selected as one of the last four teams in the NCAA tournament last night, and for good reason. Sure, Iona played a tough non-conference schedule. I’ll give you that they beat  some tough RPI 51-100 teams. But so did Marshall, and  then some. Lets compare.

(Click to enlarge.)


  • Marshall has a significantly better non-conference and overall strength of schedule rating, something Jeff Hathaway (NCAA committee chairman) said the committee liked about Iona.
  • Marshall’s RPI is 3 points lower than Iona overall and 32 points lower in the non-conference schedule.
  • Marshall is 4-6 against the Top 50, Iona is 0-2.
  • Iona is 5-3 against the Top 100, Marshall is 6-10.
  • Iona has 4 bad losses, Marshall has 3.
  • Iona bowed out in the semi-finals of the MAAC tournament, Marshall made the finals in a significantly better conference (10 vs. 20 in KenPom rating.)
  • Wins against NCAA teams: Iona (3: none of which are at-larges, RPIs: 78, 80, @135) – Marshall (5: vs 21, 21, 40, @42, 58)
  • Perhaps the most damning evidence is that Marshall beat Iona by 19 in December.

For comedic purposes, Marshall wasn’t even in the last four out. Translation: they didn’t just miss the tournament.

Hey, but what do I know about resumes, I’m not on the NCAA selection  committee. What I do know is that a team with significantly more Top 50 wins, more wins against NCAA caliber teams and better strength of schedule numbers was thrown to the curb for a team with less of the aforementioned NCAA at-large criteria.

Oh yeah, lets not forget that Marshall beat Iona by 19 points like the selection committee apparently did.

Marshall was hosed. Marshall was screwed.


Field of 68, my prediction

I won’t waste our time by posting all 31 of the conference winning auto-bids. All we have to know is that leaves 37 at-large bids. Only the bubble teams are listed in order.

At-large (37):


ACC: Duke, UNC
B10: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue
B12: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State
Big East: Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Marquette, Notre Dame, UConn, WVU
MVC: Wichita State
MWC: San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado State
SEC: Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama
WCC: Gonzaga
C-USA: Southern Miss
A-10: Temple, Xavier, St. Louis

Bubble-IN (7):
Seton Hall
Mississippi State
NC State
Ole Miss
Oral Roberts

I believe Marshall should Dance but I don't think the committee will agree.

Bubble-OUT that I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it: Marshall – 4-6 vs Top 50, RPI of 46 and an SOS of 26 with a non-conference SOS of 7 is quite impressive. If it were up to me, I’d probably have them in over Miss. State or BYU but I’m trying to predict what the committee will do.

Bubble-IN that I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed: California/BYU – Neither resume has impressed me at all. 1 combined Top 50 win. I have California in slightly better shape than BYU because an RPI of 38 is hard to deny and they have 9 wins vs RPI 50-100, FWIW.

Breaking Down the 1-Bid Leagues

Every bubble team’s worst nightmare: A team that is surely going to receive an NCAA Tournament bid no matter what and the rest of their conference has no chance at an at-large. The team winds up losing in their conference tournament and some sub .500 team receives the tournament auto-bid, suddenly turning a 1-bid league into a 2-bid league, subsequently “stealing” an at-large bid.

If you’re a fan of a bubble team, you want the following teams to win their conference tournaments so that the above scenario is avoided. The percentage attached to each team is assuming the team wins every remaining game EXCEPT the conference tournament final. Some of the projected Top 100 win/bad loss counts & RPI numbers are subject to change. (Ex: ‘Team Bad Loss’ has RPI of 101 but improves that to 93 by Selection Sunday)

Ohio Valley Conference: Murray State

The Racers are pretty much a lock for an at-large if they falter in the OVC tournament. They would have a 3-0 record vs the Top 50, 2 bad losses with an RPI in the 30s.

Chance of receiving at-large: 100%

Ivy League: Harvard

If Harvard wins out (@Columbia, @Cornell) they will receive the Ivy League auto-bid. If, however, they drop a game and Penn wins out, the two teams would be tied and would play a play-in game as they split the season series 1-1. Harvard would very likely.

Harvard would have an RPI somewhere around 45-50, 1 maybe 2 (St. Joes is 51) Top 50 wins, 7~ Top 100 wins (7-3 record), 2 bad losses and poor SOS. They would have a shot at an at-large.

Chance of receiving at-large: 60%

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: Iona

Poor late officiating might cost Iona an at-large bid if they happen to lose in the MAAC final. A Robbie Hummel trey produced by an illegal screen downed the Gaels in their first game of the season. A win would have had Iona at 1-0 vs the Top 50 & 7-2 against the Top 100 with an RPI in the low 30s.

Iona’s resume reminds me of Harvard’s and would be arguably better save their loss to Purdue and their three bad losses. The Gaels likely need to win the MAAC and anything less than that would be a huge disappointment.

Chance of receiving at-large: 15%

Big West: Long Beach State

The 49ers have an outside shot of receiving an at-large bid if they lose in the Big West conference final. If that were to happen, they’d have an estimated RPI of 28, the toughest OOC SOS in the country, one or two bad losses (Montana is currently No. 101), 0 Top 50 wins and 2 neutral/road Top 100 wins (vs. Xavier, @Pittsburgh)

Chance of receiving at-large: 10%

Summit League: Oral Roberts

Another team with an outside shot at a bid if they lose in the Summit League final. They would have an RPI in the high 30s, 0-1 vs Top 50, 3-3 vs Top 100 (win @Xavier) and a poor SOS.

The Golden Eagles’ main threat in the conference tournament is South Dakota State, who they split the season series with 1-1.

Chance of receiving at-large: 5%

Other conferences (team) considered:

CAA (Drexel/VCU) – Both teams have a lot of wins but poor SOS/RPI numbers and bad losses will ultimately leave the CAA at a 1-bid league.

Sun Belt (Middle Tenn St) – A gaudy record but 0 Top-50 wins, 2+ bad losses and a poor SOS means the Blue Raiders need to win the Sun Belt title.

**Pacific 12 (Arizona, California, Washington) – All three teams are squarely on the bubble right now so this situation is changing by the game. As of right now the Pac-12 is not a 1-bid league but can be in the future.