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Friday, March 15, 2013
Does Virginia deserve an at-large bid?

By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information

Let's compare Virginia to two other bubble teams that Joe Lunardi currently has right on the bubble.

Take a look at the tale of the tape in the chart on the right.

Virginia had a significantly worse RPI than Middle Tennessee and Boise State even before its loss to North Carolina State in the ACC tournament on Friday.

Some will argue that Middle Tennessee has played too easy of a schedule. But Virginia's schedule strength is nearly identical to Middle Tennessee's and easier than Boise State's.

Virginia's non-conference strength of schedule is worse than Middle Tennessee's and Boise State's. Middle Tennessee's ranks eighth. Virginia's ranks 299th.

Virginia has fewer victories against teams in the RPI top 25 than Boise State and the same number of RPI top-50 and top-100 wins as Boise State.

Virginia has seven losses outside the RPI top 100. Middle Tennessee and Boise State only have two each.

Virginia has more losses outside the RPI top 150 than Middle Tennessee and Boise State combined.

Virginia is 3-10 away from home. Middle Tennessee is 13-5, while Boise State is 7-9.

No team in the last 20 years has received an at-large with as many losses outside the RPI top 100 as Virginia has this season.

Given these numbers, how can Virginia receive an at-large bid over Middle Tennessee or Boise State?

That's the argument for why Virginia won't receive an at-large bid -- since the NCAA tournament selection committee uses RPI as its primary tool for selection and seeding -- but here's why Virginia should receive an at-large bid based on BPI, which takes more information into account than RPI.

Though Virginia's RPI is a negative compared to Middle Tennessee and Boise State, the Cavaliers' BPI rank (48) is almost identical to Middle Tennessee (49) and Boise State (47). That's because eight of the Cavaliers' 11 losses are by six points or fewer and three of their bad losses came without one of their key players, Jontel Evans.

Also, six of the RPI sub-100 teams Virginia lost to are ranked better by BPI than RPI. Those teams that Virginia lost to have performed better than their RPI indicates.

If you consider “bad losses” to be losses outside the top 150, then Virginia has the same number of bad losses as Middle Tennessee and Boise State according to BPI. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers easily have more top-25 wins, more top-50 wins and more top-100 wins than Middle Tennessee.