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ESPN's Charlie Creme regarding Rice Owls' at-large chances: "I would see them as just on the outside looking in."
Updated: March 13, 2019 -- 2:38 p.m. CDT
Posted: March 13, 2019 -- 11:48 a.m. CDT
Rice Owls Head Coach Tina Langley and her 24th-ranked team (25-3, 16-0 in Conference USA) will face North Texas Thursday, March 14, at 11 a.m. (CT), in the first quarterfinal match-up of the 2019 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament.
The Owls are on a 18-game win streak and are one of 7 teams to finish undefeated in conference play this season. The Owls also are ranked 35th in the March 12th NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). The basic RPI consists of a team's Division I winning percentage (25 percent weight), its opponents' winning percentage (50 percent weight) and its opponents' opponents' winning percentage (25 percent weight). The RPI is one of many factors the committees use for selecting and seeding teams.
Despite the successful regular season, the top 25 ranking, and an RPI of 35, the Owls still need to win the C-USA Tournament Championship to secure the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament rather than lose in the C-USA Tournament and wait for the NCAA Committee to put the Owls in the NCAA Tournament as one of the at-large berths.
During this morning's media conference call, Charlie Creme, ESPN's Women's Basketball Bracketologist, reiterated what he said to me last month: Rice, most likely, will not get into the tournament if it does not the C-USA Tournament Championship.
"They're (Rice) an interesting team because their RPI is very good (35); and, they dominated their conference," Creme remarked. "The flip side is they don't have a single top 50 win; and, typically, for a quote / unquote mid-major team - even with a dominance in their league - the Committee likes to see some kind of win outside the conference or have a second place team that's also decently rated within the RPI. So, I honestly think, and this would be the year that they could sneak in as I talked about the bubble being pretty weak; but, I still think they might have trouble getting in when their best win is Middle Tennessee State - if they don't win Conference USA's Tournament - despite that dominance."
Creme did say he would put Rice in as an at-large if the Owls do not win the C-USA Tournament; but, Creme is not the NCAA Selection Committee.
"I would see them as just on the outside looking in; and, they might be a sad statement as to the way the process works. I might put them in personally; but, there's sometimes what I would do and what I think the Committee will do are different. Sometimes, just slightly; but, different enough. And, I think this might be one of those cases."
Creme also provided his comments on whether or not the NCAA Women's Selection Committee should move away from the RPI to different metrics such as the Net Evaluation Tool (NET) which the NCAA Men's Committee began using this season.
"As far as switching the metrics and doing something a little bit differently," Creme commented. "All the Committee has said to us is they are investigating. And, they've been doing that now for two years looking into some kind of transition to whether it would be the NET or, my thing would be, I don't care if you use the NET. I don't care if you use RPI. But, I would like a Quad system, a little more built around the men's (process), where better emphasis is put on road wins and neutral site wins than what we have now where it's everything is kind of the same. If I were Committee-god for the day, that would be the switch I would make; and, I wouldn't get as much hung up on those metrics."
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