At first glance, when you look at the Charlotte 49ers’ record, you’d imagine them as an NCAA tournament team. A 16-4 mark and a RPI of 55 isn’t half bad. Peel back the layers, though, and the resume may not look all that impressive.
One thing in the Niners’ favor is the fact that they haven’t suffered a truly, truly bad loss as of yet. Even though two of the four losses that the Niners have suffered were against teams that they, by all accounts, had a strong chance of winning (Richmond and George Washington), they weren’t bad losses. Had they swept those two games, they’d be 18-2 with a fairly healthy RPI. The two losses against Florida State and Miami were somewhat expected, but can’t really be counted as bad losses either (especially after the U’s dismantling of Duke; also, keep in mind that the Florida State game was winnable). However, the selection committee looks unfavorably on road losses such as the ones Charlotte has suffered and will circle the Richmond and GW losses in red ink.
Then you have the schedule. The three key wins this year for the Niners thus far are against Davidson, La Salle and Xavier. The Wildcats are no strangers to the Big Dance, having been five times in the past eleven years. But they benefit from a weakened Big South schedule, and didn’t do themselves any favors after a loss against a sub-500 Georgia Southern team. The Muskeeters have been average and were expected to be after the loss of players like Tu Holloway. That leaves La Salle, who struck twice against nationally-ranked Butler and VCU, as the best win of the three–as of now.
Given those two factors, the Niners will need a true, signature win (which they haven’t been able get just yet) against a highly-favored opponent to boost their RPI and at-large chances. They’ll get that chance in February when they take on Temple (twice), VCU and Butler. As of this current moment, though, they’re a bubble team at best.
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