Over the past couple days I heard a lot of talk about how Northwestern might play at Notre Dame in the NIT. The Chicago Sun-Times mentioned the possibility and it has been discussed on the Wildcatreport.com message boards several times. I have to say that I believe the NIT committee would look very foolish if they sent the Wildcats to South Bend. I’m not saying Northwestern won’t go on the road in the NIT, (though I still think they deserve to be seeded in the top half of the NIT) but Northwestern’s numbers in all the key categories tournament committees look at are either better or essentially the same as Notre Dame’s. As a result, if Northwestern doesn’t play Evanston, I believe they certainly shouldn’t play in South Bend. Let’s take a look at the numbers…
Let’s first look at RPI, according to baselinestats.com Northwestern’s RPI is #69 and Notre Dame’s is #71. According to RealTimeRPi.com Northwestern has an RPI of #72 and Notre Dame has an RPI of #75.
Along with RPI, tournament committee’s are supposed to look at wins against Top 50 competition. Notre Dame has 2 wins against Top 50 teams. Overall, they are 2-12 against these teams, 1-9 against teams 1-25 and 1-3 against teams 26-50. On the other hand, Northwestern is 6-10 against Top 50 competition. The Wildcats are 2-3 vs RPI 1-25 and 4-7 vs RPI 26-50.
Notre Dame does have an edge in strength of schedule, but that edge is rather small. Notre Dame has an SOS of #39. Northwestern’s SOS is #41. Given the fact NU handled the tough teams on their schedule better (6 top 50 wins) I believe NU still has a case for being seeded higher than the Irish.
One other area where Notre Dame is better than Northwestern is the record in the last ten games. Notre Dame is 5-5 and Northwestern is 4-6. Come to think of it, that’s not such a great advantage either.
Finally, Northwestern has a record of 17-13 and Notre Dame is 18-14. However, one of Notre Dame’s wins was over non-Division 1 opponent South Dakota so that win technically doesn’t count in tournament consideration. Therefore, the teams have basically the same record.
Looking at these numbers I don’t see how anyone can in all fairness say in a truly seeded tournament that Northwestern should be rated below Notre Dame. However, many NIT projections (which I will note should be taken with a major grain of salt) have ND seeded higher. The only reason for this has got to be reputation. I hope when the NIT selection committee meets they take this information into account and don’t fall victim to reputation like many fans and prognosticators apparently have done. Maybe someone at the Big Ten Network can read this blog and pass it to network analyst and NIT selection committee member Gene Keady. Come on coach, you know Notre Dame doesn’t deserve a better seed than the Wildcats. We’re counting on you to make sure C.M. Newton and the rest of the guys understand that as well.