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UCLA Basketball: The Selection Committee's Rankings

UCLA's inclusion in the NCAA Tournament is controversial, but it turns out that the Selection Committee ranked UCLA No. 42. The Bruins were actually safe under numerous scenarios according to the Committee. So how did the bubble teams do against other 2015 Tournament teams?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There's been a lot of hand-wringing in the mainstream media, the internets and even in the UCLA community over UCLA's NCAA Tournament bid. After the Arizona loss, most of the bracketologists had the Bruins in the "First Four Out." I wasn't optimistic at all (the second paragraph in my NCAA Open Thread was all about the NIT).

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports has several posts expressing his belief that including UCLA was a mistake.

Committee Chair Scott Barnes explained it this way:

"In UCLA's case, it was a tough call," Barnes said. "We talked even a month ago about UCLA. The committee was watching them and felt like they obviously passed the eye test. Those are things that we looked at in terms of UCLA. It was one of the tougher decisions that we made."

So who's right? The bracketologists, Kenpom, Net Rating and slew of other advanced and not-so-advanced ratings, including the RPI, yield different results.

The RPI is clear -- the other bubble teams are ranked higher. But the RPI is flawed. Is Kansas really the No. 3 team in the land? Here's the Wikipedia page on RPI. The statistical gurus can weigh in, but my simple observation is that it does not directly takes into consideration the strength of schedule or some other meaningful measure of the caliber of opponent. This doesn't apply in my Kansas example, but a cupcake team that beats a lot of other cupcake teams who have beaten a lot of other cupcake teams will have a high RPI.

In the table below, I set out to evaluate the bubble teams in a different way. How did UCLA, Dayton (in a play-in game Wednesday night, and would have been knocked out if UConn won the American Athletic Tournament), Colorado State and Temple (two of the first teams out) do against other 2015 Tournament teams?

(Forgive me if I made any mistakes -- this was very manual.)

That's not so clear either. UCLA had the most wins, 4-8, along with Colorado St. at 4-4. Dayton was 2-3 and Temple was 2-5. But UCLA had the most losses as well.

UCLA Dayton Colorado St. Temple
Conference PAC-12 Atlantic 10 Mountain West American Athletic
RPI 49 32 28 34
Tourney Teams Record 4-8 2-3 4-4 2-5
Selection Committee Rank
1. Kentucky L
2. Villanova L
3. Duke L
4. Wisconsin
5. Virginia
6. Arizona L,L
7. Gonzaga L
8. Kansas W
9. Iowa State
10. Baylor
11. Oklahoma L
12. Notre Dame
13. North Carolina L
14. Maryland
15. Louisville
16. Georgetown
17. Utah L,W
18. Arkansas L
19. West Virginia
20. Northern Iowa
21. SMU L,L
22. Providence
23. Butler
24. Xavier
25. Michigan State
26. Wichita State
27. Iowa
28. VCU W,L
29. Cincinnati W,L
30. Oregon L,W
31. NC State
32. San Diego State W,L
33. St. John's
34. Oklahoma State
35. LSU
36. Purdue
37. Indiana
38. Davidson L
39. Ohio State
40. Georgia
41. Texas
42. UCLA
43. Ole Miss W
44. BYU
45. Boise State W,L
46. Dayton
47. Wyoming L,L
48. Buffalo
49. Wofford
50. Stephen F. Austin
51. Valpariaso
52. Harvard
53. Eastern Washington
54. UC Irvine
55. Georgia State W
56. Northeastern
57. UAB W
58. Albany
59. New Mexico State W
60. Belmont
61. Texas Southern
62. North Dakota State
63. Lafayette
64. Coastal Carolina W
65. North Florida
66. Robert Morris
67. Manhattan
68. Hampton

My takeaway is, and I said this before the season started, it doesn't hurt to load up your nonconference schedule -- except for Doug Gottlieb, no one remembered 41-7. And it's good to be in a power conference.