Resume Analysis pre-B1G Tourney

Looking at scenarios and the needed RPI target for a bid the to the NCAA Tournament

By Carl James @jovian34 May 19th, 2024

The Indiana Hoosiers won the final series against Michigan, but failed to sweep as I said was necessary in my post last week. Indiana finished in third place in the Big Ten (B1G) standings, three games outside of first place. Indiana’s RPI rank is 59th.

The Goal: Get into the NCAA Tournament

Path 1: At-large bid

There are 64 slots in the NCAA Tournament. 30 of those slots will be automatic bids to from each eligible conference. This grants 34 at-large bids that the NCAA Selection Committee will make. Now 13 of the 30 conferences have teams with at-large caliber resumes, extending the effective number of at-large bids to 47 teams. However, since all but one conference gives their automatic bid to the winner of the conference tournament there is a chance for some of these automatic bids to be “stolen” from the pool of 47. Below I have listed each conference with the conference leader and my odds of the bid being stolen. For leagues with only 1 at-large caliber team I set the odds at 0.5 (like a coin-flip). I totaled those up to come at 3.7 stolen bids.

WCCSan Diego25100.5
AmericanEast Carolina12100.5
MoVIndiana State10100.5
Pac 12Arizona26300.4
Big EastXavier27210.3
C-USADallas Baptist21200.3
Big West*UCSB18200
Sun BeltSouthern Miss33220.3
Big 12Oklahoma16450.1
ACCNorth Carolina5720.1
*Awards auto bid to regular season champion – one of the two at-large teams will get this bid

Next, I looked at the teams with RPI ranks better than 52, to identify who could potentially be bumped from the field for a poor resume. At this point I have identified 13 teams with top-52 RPIs that Indiana would have a case to bump. The odds of that bump case were set the same way as the stolen bids with a clear case like Auburn, who is no. 45 in the RPI, but only 8-22 in SEC play set at 1 because they will not get a bid. On the low end I have Kansas State at 0.1 who has a no. 41 RPI with only a 6-12 record against Quad-1 teams, but are a northern team and likely only need to be in the RPI range to get in. Totaling these up I got 5.9 bump-able teams. This went up slightly from last week thanks to Maryland getting swept by Penn State and not making the B1G Tournament, despite a top-50 RPI.

Finally, I looked at teams with RPIs worse than 50 who have a good case to “bump” IU if they have a worse RPI than IU on Selection Day. That was five teams whose odds added up to 2.0. That got a bit better due to some shuffling in ranks and a team in this group last week entering clear at-large RPI range.

Once I added all of that up, I got a target RPI rank of 51.4. If Indiana won three straight in Omaha and lost in the championship game it would go 3-1 on the week, good enough to boost their RPI to about 52-53, just outside this range. The hope would then be for the target rank to get higher by actual stolen bids dropping to no more than two and poor performances by other bubble teams in conference tournament week.

Teams to root against in conference tournament week:

Coastal Carolina3516-14 Sun Belt, 2-7 Q1, home loss to IU0.2
TCU3914-16 Big 12, 4-10 Q10.5
K-State4115-15 Big 12, 6-12 Q10.1
UCF4214-15 Big 12, 3-7 Q10.5
James Madison4416-12 Sun Belt, 5-7 Q10.1
Georgia Tech469-12 Q10.1
UNCW475-5 Q10.1
Charleston502-1 Q1, 206 NC SOS0.3
E Tennessee512-6 Q1, 144 NC SOS0.7
Louisville5216-14 ACC, 7-15 Q10.3
Troy53Head-to-head series over IU, 6-5 Q1-0.8*
Lamar563-1 Q1, 14-5 Southland-0.3*
Cincinnati594-11 Q-1, 16-11 Big 12-0.4*
St Johns634-4 Q1, 14-7 Big East-0.3*
Cal655-2 Q1, 15-13 Pac12-0.2*
*negative odds mean they have a case to bump IU with a worse RPI

Now missing this rank on Selection Day by one or two does not eliminate the possibility of getting in. The committee has a new tool this year, the KPI rankings. As it turns out Indiana is currently 10 spots better in the KPI vs the RPI. The RPI still has precedence, but the KPI can be considered (yes – that makes no sense to me either in case you are rightfully confused). I will also note that Indiana Athletics Director, Scott Dolson, is on the committee this year. Dolson is supposed to be “out of the room” when his program is discussed, but committees have a history of decisions that favor the programs of members of the committee, for whatever that is worth.

The B1G is also the 4th best conference by aggregate RPI this season. Conference RPI is often discussed in the media, but not an explicit metric the committee is supposed to use. I am not considering it in my evaluations, but some think the committee might.

Path 2: Win the B1G Tournament

At this point, the most likely way to get into the field is for Indiana to earn the B1G’s automatic bid. Indiana is arguably the most talented team in the league. I think they may be in the best shape to make a title run of any IU team since 2014. They are adding pitchers each week that can give quality multiple innings and have a few more that can be effective in multiple short stints. The biggest weakness the pitching staff has is giving up home runs, but Charles Schwab Field in Omaha is a notoriously tough place to hit homers.

Indiana offense is explosive and has put up crooked numbers on multiple occasions without needing home runs, while a few B1G teams have become somewhat reliant on the long ball.

Pitching strategies

The condensed series against Michigan ended Friday. Ty Bothwell will be able to open the tournament Tuesday on 4-days rest and Bothwell may even be able to come back on 4-days rest again for a Sunday title game. If the Hoosiers win, Connor Foley and the entire bullpen would be on regular rest for a Thursday outing, possibly against Nebraska. Indiana is setup well, but winning the first two games is critical, because dropping into the loser’s bracket means having to win 5 total games instead of 4 to get a title.

Going Forward

I will continue to publish updated versions of this as things progress. None of this happens in a vacuum and the situation can change and Indiana’s performance will very likely be the largest factor that dictates the focus going forward.