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Friday, March 1, 2013
Should New Mexico be a No. 1 seed?

By Ryan Feldman

The New Mexico Lobos have the No. 2 RPI in the country and are leading the top-ranked conference according to RPI by two games, yet they aren't being discussed as a No. 1 seed.

Are the Lobos being overlooked?

Certainly, it's not all about RPI rank when it comes to selecting and seeding teams for the NCAA tournament. But RPI is the most important factor for organizing the field.

Said committee chair Mike Bobinski, "It's absolutely a tool we use to organize the field. We use it to group teams in certain ways. That's undeniable that we use it from that perspective. What people sometimes believe is we use the RPI as a selection tool, and we never, ever do that. It's a consistent way of organizing the data and slicing and dicing things, but we look a lot deeper than that."

In the past five seasons, 12 of the 15 teams ranked in the top three in RPI on Selection Sunday received No. 1 seeds. The exceptions:
None of those three teams were in the top-rated RPI conference, like New Mexico is in the Mountain West. Each team's conference was ranked third or worse by RPI.

Despite all 15 of those teams being seeded on the top two lines, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi -- who does his best to emulate what the selection committee would do if the season ended today -- has the Lobos currently as a No. 3 seed. Lunardi recently named 11 teams that are contenders for a No. 1 seed, and the Lobos aren't one of them.

A website called the "Bracket Matrix" tracks 98 different "bracketologists" on the internet, and only four of them have the Lobos as a No. 1 seed. Their range goes as low as a No. 5 seed.


Let's compare the Lobos to other teams considered by Lunardi as No. 1 seed contenders using RPI: