NCAA Tournament Selection Probabilities for Division I

By Larry Feldman and Bill Allen

The NCAA Selection Committee now invites 26 teams to the Division I tournament. Thirteen berths are for automatic qualifiers (AQs), which are the champions of their conferences. The remaining 13 are at-large selections from teams not selected as AQs.

Below is a list of teams eligible for AQs followed by a list of teams we believe to have the highest probability of getting selected on an at-large basis.

Let's examine automatic qualifiers. Six are in already:

Atlantic 10: Massachusetts
Atlantic Coast: Maryland
Atlantic Sun: Jacksonville
Big South: High Point
Northeast: Monmouth
Patriot League: Navy

Seven AQs will be determined this weekend. Probabilities of winning a conference championship and hence an AQ are based on the match-ups and teams' power ratings.

American Lacrosse Conference
Favorite: Florida
Other At-Large Possibilities: Northwestern, Penn State, Johns Hopkins

America East
Favorite: Stony Brook
Other At-Large Possibilities: None

Big East
Favorite: Syracuse
Other At-Large Possibilities: Georgetown, Connecticut, Loyola

Favorite: Towson
Other At-Large Possibilities: James Madison

Ivy League
Favorite: Penn
Other At-Large Possibilities: Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth

Metro Atlantic
Favorite: Canisius
Other At-Large Possibilities: None

Favorite: Denver
Other At-Large Possibilities: Stanford

Next, let's examine the remaining teams for at-large consideration. This may include teams that are still in contention for automatic qualification.

Probabilities of an at-large invitation are based on a team's RPI (ratings percentage index) and SOS (strength of schedule) ranking. Summing the two rankings yields a number that, over the past 10 years, predicts reasonably well whether a team will receive an invitation or be passed up.

Quality wins are not explicitly included in the primary or secondary selection criteria, but they still may play a role in the selection process, and that is why we consider them here. They basically answer the question, who did that team beat? The ranking is based on a scoring system such that if a team beats a top 5, top 10, top 20,or >top 20 team, it earns so many points. And if you lose to the same team, it loses points. The RPI ranking is used to determine whether a team is a top 5 etc., and the higher ranked the team, the greater the points earned (and vice versa for a loss).

Apparent Locks (5)

Wins-Losses             13-2
RPI Rank 3
SOS Rank 1
Quality Wins Rank 2
At-Large Probability 100.00

North Carolina
Wins-Losses             13-2
RPI Rank 2
SOS Rank 4
Quality Wins Rank 4
At-Large Probability 100.00

Wins-Losses             11-3
RPI Rank 6
SOS Rank 8
Quality Wins Rank 13
At-Large Probability 94.93

Penn State
Wins-Losses             11-4
RPI Rank 7
SOS Rank 11
Quality Wins Rank 12
At-Large Probability 91.00

Wins-Losses             11-4
RPI Rank 9
SOS Rank 16
Quality Wins Rank 10
At-Large Probability 74.48

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