by Jerry Palm
I've been hearing from Duquesne fans especially, and some from Wichita State too, wondering why their teams don't get more respect in the bracket. After all, they are co-leaders of their leagues, and in the Dukes' case, undefeated.
Conference standings used to be a mostly-reliable gauge of where teams stood amongst each other. It used to be rare for one team in a conference to get an at-large bid over another team that finished ahead of it in its league. Now, with bigger conferences and more unbalanced schedules, conference standings aren't as reliable as they used to be. In fact, there may be nothing less meaningful than the Big East conference standings. And I'm talking about at the end of the season. Conference standings are even less useful now.
I use them to determine the conference "automatic qualifier" for my bracket projections. After that, I hardly ever look at them.
The committee pays no attention to where a team finishes in the conference race either. They will look at conference records and which teams they played to get to that record, just as they do with non-conference records and schedules. In fact, non-conference schedules are more important because sometimes, teams get left out primarily for playing a weak one.
For the committee though, it's all about who you played, where you played them, and whether you won, but not so much where you finished in your conference.
So, as for Wichita State, they don't have a single win of any significant quality. The Shockers are 0-4 vs the RPI top 100. Until that gets a lot better, they aren't even on my board.
Duquesne is undefeated in the A-10, another league that is too big to have any reasonable balance to its conference schedule. They have home wins over Temple and Dayton , but didn't do anything good outside the league. They are on my board, but I think we're a couple weeks away from really finding out about the Dukes. They play at home vs Xavier , at UMass and at Dayton in a six day stretch. After that, ask me again about them.
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