Monday, March 12, 2007

"It's surprising that the fourth-place team in the Big Ten conference doesn't make the NIT."

Steve Alford is right. It's suprising--on its face--that a 4th place team in a major conference would not be included in the postseason. But that's because one thinks of a "4th place" team in the Big 10, the reasonable assumption is that that team is the 4th best team in the conference, and absolutely nobody thinks that about Iowa.

Iowa's overall record and RPI were, as a matter of fact, each the 8th best in the Big 10. The reason Iowa's overall resume looked so bad was that their non-conference tilt wasn't just bad for an upper-half Big Ten team; it was one of the worst of any major conference team. Iowa's non-conference RPI ended up being 10th worst among the six power conferences. Out of 73 teams. If you want to toss in the Missouri Valley, just since they technically rated better than the Big XII this year, Iowa drops to 10th worst out of 83.

So pardon the NIT for not falling in love with a 9-7 record in the Big Ten. Pardon them for noticing 73 other teams in the seven best conferences who represented themselves better in the early going. And pardon them for ignoring that Iowa "beat all the teams in the Big Ten except for Ohio State and Wisconsin," and instead focusing on the Big Ten team Iowa beat the most: themselves.

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