How Yale could miss the NCAA tournament


You may want to read the Background on how PWR matters for tournament selection and How the “can make it at-large teams” can make it sections of NCAA tournament possibilities (with less math), if you haven’t already.

How Yale could miss

Given that idle Yale can fall no further than #13, the most important contributor to excluding Yale is to have conference tournaments won by low-ranked teams. That chews up spots that could otherwise have gone to at-large teams, what we call “moving the cutline”.

But, Yale also needs to lose some RPI comparison(s) that it’s currently winning to get knocked out of the safe #10 PWR spot. Given that they’re not playing this weekend, Yale’s RPI can only be pushed downward by moving their opponents’ (and opponents’ opponents’) win percentages. Here are Yale’s top opponents by weighted games played (from Yale RPI details):

Dartmouth 4.2 (still playing)
Princeton 3.4
Union 2.4
Cornell 2.2
Massachusetts 2.2
St. Lawrence 2 (still playing)
Harvard 1.8 (still playing)
Clarkson 1.8
Rensselaer 1.6

Having Dartmouth lose can have a big downward effect on Yale’s RPI, as would having Harvard and St. Lawrence lose. But, they play each other. Having Harvard win is more useful because it allows the Crimson to hold onto enough comparisons to stay ahead of Yale, pushing Yale down a PWR spot.

That only flipped one comparison, but looking at Yale’s PWR details, we can push a couple of the bubble teams’ RPIs up over Yale’s. In the example scenario linked below, Notre Dame and Duluth’s RPIs rise enough that they overtake Yale’s and flip those two comparisons, for a total drop of 3 PWR spots.

Yale fans don’t need to worry much, these events come together in about 1.2% of remaining possible scenarios because they require a large number of low ranked teams to win conference tournaments. Here’s one example:

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