Just in time, the NCAA’s Division I committee on basketball is putting emphasis on winning road games.
Previously, wins against top-50 RPI teams earned a certain level of credit, and wins over 51-100 received a little less emphasis, then wins over teams ranked 101-200, and sub-200 teams. (Let’s call those the Syracuse/ Marquette special games, the patsy opponents that everyone knows was bought in to take the L*.)
Starting next season, the “team sheets” that the committee uses to evaluate a high quality win will be changed.
There still will be four separate columns, with the first column consisting of home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral-site games against teams ranked in the top 50 and road games against opponents ranked in the top 75. The second column will include home games against teams ranked 31-75, neutral-site games versus teams ranked 51-100 and road games against teams ranked 76-135.
Next year, St. John’s is scheduled to play a road game against Grand Canyon (ranked 124 in the RPI at the end of last season and improving); a neutral site game against Arizona State (ranked 126 in last year’s RPI... they may NOT be improving); neutral site games against St. Joseph’s (ranked 203 last season); and the Advocare Tournament (including West Virginia, 26, Missouri, 253 but should rapidly improve, Nebraska, 111, UCF, 64, and others).
The Holiday Festival against Iona could be considered a neutral site game, but in all likelihood will be considered a home contest.
With those challenging games on the schedule, plus a strong Big East with an improving DePaul, Chris Mullin’s Red Storm have chances for the kind of wins that could push them into the NCAA Tournament - or at least the NIT.
The NCAA’s new approach has been influenced by the increasing expertise in quantifiable data to better define the best at-large teams. The modern metrics helped create the dividing lines that will help create a more universally agreed-upon bracket, as opposed to one where big name coaches get more benefit of the doubt than good mid-major programs.
*Ok, ok, St. John’s has played their share of patsies too... and lost... we know.