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A look at if New Mexico should be a No. 1 seed.
Depending on where one looks, the Mountain West has been rated as one of the best leagues in all of college basketball. The league was the most difficult for teams to win on the road, and it showed as Air Force claimed upsets over the top teams in the league, and even Fresno State got in on the action by beating UNLV at home.
The league has just one team ranked in the top 25 in New Mexico, but in the RPI world the Mountain West has three in the top 25 with New Mexico at No. 2. Then go look at KenPom who is not as high on the Mountain West as he places New Mexico at No. 16.
Multiple metrics are used by the selection committee to determine who gets seeded in the NCAA tournament, and committee has already said that they will use more than RPI and the top 25 polls. They will use KenPom, Jeff Sagarin's ratings and ESPN's own stat of BPI.
That is a good thing since combining all of those numbers together can help with the bigger pitcher, but does it give New Mexico a shot as a number one seed. Most projections out there have New Mexico as a No. 2 seed, and no brackets peg them as a one seed.
It could just be that loss to Air Force that hurt their chances, but that loss is not all that bad since Air Force is rated as 77 in the RPI and have proven to be very good at home.
In my -- likely biassed opinion -- New Mexico is deserving of a No. 1 seed. However, Gonzaga is pretty much guaranteed a No. 1 seed and has no where near the schedule or quality of wins that New Mexico has earned this year.
The Lobos are 10-3 against the RPI top 50, and 9-2 against the rest of the top-100. While the Zags are 6-2 against the top-50 and 6-0 against top-100 teams. Part of that has to do with the conference they play in, but that should matter for seeding.
A good example is Stephen F. Austin of the Southland Conference, who are 27-3 with a RPI 63 and have the 312th strength of schedule. They have one win against a RPI top-50 team and are 1-2 against the top-100, and their projected seed is a 13.
Shifting back to New Mexico and Gonzaga, the Lobos have the second toughest schedule while the Zags have the 75th. Not to just pick on Gonzaga but when one looks at Duke they are on par with New Mexico's success, yet the Blue Devils are still considered a No. 1 seed despite losing to Maryland in their conference quarterfinals. Maryland is just slightly better than Air Force with a RPI of 69, but this was on a neutral court so that really makes the loss a wash in my opinion.
Other top teams lost in their conference tournaments to inferior teams such as Indiana, Michigan and Georgetown. The latter two are likely dismissed as a top seed, but they were in the discussion for a top seed prior to losing.
Here is a blind resume, well as blind as one can get after mentioning quality wins of a few schools.
Click here for a full page view of the chart, and before reading ahead take a guess at who should earn the four No. 1 seeds.
Looking at these teams the four teams that should earn a No. 1 seed should be Team 5, Team 2, Team 1 and Team 3. Here are the teams listed above.
Click here for a full page view of the chart.
Going by those teams mentioned that means -- on my opinion -- has Duke, New Mexico, Indiana and Louisville as the No. 1 seeds. Michigan State, Kansas and Miami still have chances to improve themselves since they play in title games on Sunday.
Yes, I knew the teams as I made the chart and I was looking at just RPI, but New Mexico has the numbers to be considered for a No. 1 seed, and their counterpart from a non-traditional power league in Gonzaga do no not stack up as well.
The way that the projections have been playing out odds are that New Mexico will not earn one of the top four seeds, but the difference between a No. 1 or No. 2 seed is small. Earning a No. 1 seed would be great for the school to put in the media guide, but at the end of the day it does not matter.