Examining resumes of Ohio’s bubble teams

Xavier Musketeers head coach Chris Mack reacts from the sidelines during the first half against the Villanova Wildcats at the Cintas Center.

Frank Victores/Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Three Ohio teams are sweating this Selection Sunday.

Xavier is probably getting in the NCAA tournament when the bracket is announced tonight. Dayton should get in, but will be sweating. Toledo is probably going to be left out.

Those are just guesses based on the following numbers. For purpose of simplicity and points of reference, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is a computer ranking the selection committee uses to examine, evaluate and seed teams. It’s not the only thing the committee uses, but it will be used below to keep things clearer.

Xavier is 21-12 with an RPI rank of 47 and a top 40 strength of schedule.

Dayton is 23-10 with a 43 RPI and a top 70 strength of schedule.

Toledo is 26-6 with a 38 RPI and a strength of schedule that will end up right around 150.

To clear up a question/Internet misnomer, Dayton is eligible to play in the First Four this week at the University of Dayton on its home floor. If it comes to that, it’s simply tough luck for Dayton’s opponent.

Xavier-Dayton would give the First Four the most visibility its ever had. The committee isn’t supposed to be in that business, though.

We’ll see.

Xavier probably should be in and not have to play in the First Four. The Musketeers have wins over Cincinnati (neutral floor) and Creighton (home) on their resume, plus a split with a Tennessee team that finished strong. Even the Providence home win now looks much better than it did a few weeks ago with the Friars winning the Big East tournament and cracking the top 40 in RPI.

Xavier finished third in the Big East and beat six teams that finished with at least 20 wins.

Dayton’s quality wins (Saint Louis on the road, Gonzaga on a neutral floor, UMass, George Washington and Iona at home) will be judged against the Flyers slow start in the Atlantic 10, a conference that’s going to end up sending at least five teams to the tournament.

Dayton has bad losses, too — Illinois St. (134 RPI), Rhode Island (156), USC (178) — and will be sweating tonight. The big wins aren’t as big as Xavier’s and the losses are worse, but Dayton scheduled aggressively and won four times away from its home court in non-conference play and won at Saint Louis (25-6, RPI 26) in the final week of the regular season.

Last year, two teams not from "power" conferences (Middle Tennessee and LaSalle) got in the field with RPI ratings of 40 and 44, respectively. In theory, that gives hope to Dayton and Toledo — but this year’s teams will be judged based on this year’s field and circumstances.

By RPI, Toledo’s best out of conference win was against No. 90 Cleveland State. The Rockets only lost once out of conference, at Kansas, but will ultimately likely be sunk by the weak bottom of the MAC, a strength of schedule rating around 150 and a late regular season loss to Northern Illinois (RPI 217).

When Dayton was playing in the Maui Invitational (and beating Gonzaga and Cal), Toledo was playing Detroit and Florida Atlantic. It’s not as simple as that, but that’s probably the best way to sum up Toledo’s chances. Horizon League regular season champ Wisconsin-Green Bay is almost certainly going to be left out, too, at 21-6 with a 58 RPI — and Green Bay has a win over Virginia on its resume.

Toledo doesn’t have that. The Rockets pass the eye test, but didn’t pass their final test against Western Michigan and will probably have to settle for the NIT.

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