December 27, 2006

Not convinced.

Heading into the latter, more meaningful half of the college basketball season, its time to take a peek at the RPI ratings on Teams will be entering conference play in the next week or so, from here on the RPI non-conference ratings are set. Some teams helped themselves whereas others have work to do. While its a good thing being ranked without beating anyone, the conference slate could toll bells for these paper tigers.

Connecticut. The Huskies lost everyone from last year's Elite Eight team and notably, Jim Calhoun scheduled his troops to play a ton of stiffs. UConn's schedule of strength is #311 in the country out of 336. To date they haven't played a single game away from Gampel Pavilion. However, to their credit, the Huskies will play at LSU, Indiana, and at Georgia Tech before the year is done, but for now, the Huskies do not deserve the #12 AP ranking they have received. Much more is to be learned about this team in the coming months.

Ohio State. The Bucks' wins have all come at home with the highest RPI ranked team being Loyola-Chicago at #42. They have only won one game away from home on a neutral court in Indianapolis against Cincinnati in crushing fashion. What is known about the Buckeyes is that they have two sterling losses at North Carolina and Florida. Those losses won't hurt them, but their #6 ranking is still based on projection rather than performance.

Alabama. Currently the Tide sit at #8 in the AP, owning wins over Iowa and Xavier on a neutral court in the Virgin Islands and having won at North Carolina State. Before trumpeting the horn for the Tide, it should be mentioned that those three teams have records of 7-6, 8-4, and 7-4 respectively. The only other appearance away from Tuscaloosa was a 14-point loss to Notre Dame in South Bend.

Texas A&M. The Aggies have losses at LSU and against UCLA in Anaheim, however their "best" win was a triumph at Auburn. Unlike Connecticut, the Aggies have no more games against any eyebrow-raisers to help them out. The Big 12 is down so they should be fine, but any unforseen stumbles could cause problems.

LSU. The Tigers will be pulling for the Aggies as they are their best win, having defeated A&M in Baton Rouge. LSU has lost to Wichita State at home, Texas in Houston, and to Washington on the road. The problem is that they have the before-mentioned Connecticut left on the non-conference slate. Will a win over the Huskies help?

Clemson & Oregon. The last of the undefeateds. Clemson's best mark is a road win over South Carolina. Oregon came across the country and beat Georgetown in D.C. Neither win completely punches their ticket, so both teams will need to prove themselves.

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.