DEJA VU, Minn. -- Here the Gophers are in a familiar place, sitting there this morning with their fat & sassy #11 RPI ranking, the same place they were 365 days ago. Last year in mid-December the Gopher hoopsters held a pair of RPI top-50 wins over #25 Indiana State and #45 Virginia Tech (something they don't have this season), on their way to earning an impressive mid-December #19 RPI ranking. However, as we learned in 2011-12, early success doesn't guarantee late-season prowess. None of the aforementioned three teams ended up in the NCAA Tournament , or for that matter anywhere near the NCAA bubble, though the Gophers did wind up in the NIT.
So with the Big Ten season only two weeks away, let's take a peak at how the Gophers' nonconference schedule/RPI currently stacks up against their conference brethren. RPI, strength of schedule (SOS), quality wins, "good" losses, RPI killers? You name it, we'll take a look-see.
All RPI and SOS information is courtesy of Jerry Palm at CBSSports.com.
Big Ten in the RPI
33. Ohio State
T-51. Michigan State
149. Penn State
SOS Rank (there are 347 Division I teams)
100. Michigan State
115. Penn State
146. Ohio State
RPI Top-50 Wins
Illinois (2) -- vs. Butler (#3), @ Gonzaga (#14)
Michigan State (2) -- vs. Kansas (#9), Boise State (36)
Indiana (2) -- vs. Georgetown (#34), North Carolina (42)
Michigan (1) -- NC State (#13)
Penn State (1) -- Bucknell (#23)
Wisconsin (1) -- Cal (#41)
RPI Top-50 Losses
Northwestern (2) -- Butler (#3), UIC (#24)
Wisconsin (2) -- @ Florida (#6), vs. Creighton (#26)
Penn State (2) -- vs. NC State (#13), @ LaSalle (#31)
Michigan State (2) -- vs. UConn (#15), @ Miami-Florida (#17)
Nebraska (2) -- Creighton (#26), @ Oregon (#38)
GOPHERS (1) -- vs. Duke (#1)
Ohio State (1) -- @ Duke (#1)
Indiana (1) -- vs. Butler (#3)
Iowa (1) -- vs. Wichita State (#22)
Purdue (1) -- Bucknell (#23)
***The Big Ten has a 9-15 record vs. the top 50 in the RPI.
RPI-Killing Opponents (opponents in bottom 25%; #261 or worse)
Wisconsin (4) -- Green Bay (#287), Nebraska-Omaha (#288), Presbyterian (#328), Southeastern Louisiana (#341)
Iowa (3) -- Howard (#291), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (#322), Texas-Pan American (#324)
Penn State (2) -- Saint Francis-Pa. (#336), Penn (#342)
Purdue (2) -- Hofstra (#302), Lamar (#304)
Ohio State (2) -- NC-Asheville (#285), Northern Kentucky (#333)
Michigan (2) -- IUPUI (#283), Binghamton (#325)
Indiana (2) -- vs. Georgia (#272), Coppin State (298)
Michigan State (1) -- Nicholls State (#295)
GOPHERS (1) -- American (#264)
Nebraska (1) -- Nebraska-Omaha (#288)
And now, on to our weekly staples.
The list of undefeated teams is down to 8. ... who they "got next":
1. Arizona -- host Oral Roberts on Tuesday.
2. Cincinnati -- vs. Xavier on Wednesday.
3. Duke -- host Cornell on Wednesday.
4. Illinois -- vs. Missouri on Saturday.
5. Michigan -- host Eastern Michigan on Thursday.
6. New Mexico -- @ New Mexico State on Wednesday.
7. Syracuse -- host Detroit tonight.
8. Wyoming -- host Denver on Tuesday.
RPI of Gophers' Nonconference Opponents
1. Duke (L)
72. North Dakota State (W)
107. Stanford (W)
113. Richmond (W)
115. USC (W)
129. Memphis (W)
156. South Dakota State (W)
162. Florida State (W)
175. North Florida (W)
189. Tennessee State (W)
228. Toledo (W)
264. American (W)
(1) Pleasant Surprise: UIC (Illinois-Chicago) -- picked to finish 8th in the Horizon League by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook -- quietly has put together a decent at-large resume. The Flames (#24 in the RPI) won at #64 Northwestern and also own a home win over #28 Colorado State. The only loss in their 8-1 start is a 66-59 setback to Steve Alford's undefeated New Mexico Lobos. Heady stuff for a program that has finished with #291, #292, and #297 RPI rankings the last three seasons.
(2) Book It, Dano: Look for Conference USA's Memphis (despite Saturday's home collapse vs. Louisville) and Davidson (Southern) to coast through their respective conferences on their way to earning NCAA automatic bids. And it's a virtual shoo-in that Bucknell and Lehigh will meet for the Patriot League's auto bid on March 13th.
(3) Even Money: In addition to Memphis, it's a safe bet the Gophers will have at least one other nonconference win over a NCAA-qualifying opponent. Expect North Dakota State or South Dakota State to represent the Summit League in the NCAA Tournament.
(4) Jamie Dixon's Non-Big East Schedule is the "Pitts": My vote for least impressive one-loss team in the country? Try 10-1 Pitt, whose baby-soft schedule "boasts" wins over Mount Saint Mary's, Fordham, Lehigh, Oakland, Delaware, Howard, Detroit, Duquesne, North Florida, and Bethune-Cookman. Only Lehigh and Detroit would qualify as decent wins.
Mana-a-Mano Report: Top 8 Conferences Head to Head (Big East passes the B1G)
Last Week's Results: Arizona over Florida; Boise State over LSU; Butler over Indiana; DePaul over Arizona State; Colorado over Fresno State; Duquesne over West Virginia; Miami-Florida over Charlotte; Michigan over West Virginia; Notre Dame over Purdue; Oklahoma over Texas A&M; Oregon over Nebraska; Rutgers over George Washington; Villanova over Saint Joseph's; and VCU over Alabama.
1. Big East (33-18, 64.7%)
2. Big Ten (28-19, 60%)
3. ACC (24-18, 57.1%)
4. Mountain West (10-9, 52.6%)
5. Big 12 (16-17, 48.5%)
6. Pac 12 (21-23, 47.7%)
7. Atlantic 10 (19-27, 41.3%)
8. SEC (14-34, 29.2%)
This Week's Games to Watch
(Tuesday) Richmond @ Kansas, Stanford @ NC State. (Wednesday) Cincinnati vs. Xavier, Illinois State @ Dayton, South Dakota State @ Belmont. (Friday) BYU @ Baylor, Stanford @ Northwestern. (Saturday) Florida vs. Kansas State, Illinois vs. Missouri, Murray State @ Dayton, South Dakota State @ New Mexico, Syracuse vs. Temple.
Upset Special (not so much)
At least give me credit for trying!
Last Week: LaSalle over Bucknell (L, Bucknell won, 74-66)
This Week: New Mexico State over New Mexico (Wednesday)
Road to Selection Sunday now will take a brief respite, returning prior to the start of the Big Ten season. Until then, everyone have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and please treasure your families.
Tag(s): Gopher Basketball