RealTimeRPI.com does things a little less conventionally than ESPN. While you can expect ESPN's Joe Lunardi (regarded as "THE" Bracketoligist) to completely neglect the truest of mid-major conferences when it comes to his NCAA tournament projections, RealTImeRPI.com uses the RPI (Ratings Per Index) system to determine their own projections. Ratings Per Index is a system determined upon three things: your record, your opponents' record, and your opponents' opponents' record. Starting in 2004, more weight was given to road victories and less weight to home victories. The website also uses a Strength of Schedule model (SOS) to help determine their bracket predictions. In a way SOS and RPI reflect the same things: whether a team has played a competitive schedule or not. RPI takes into account how many of those games the team has actually won.
Lunardi appears to merely shoot a glance at who is in first place in a conference like America East, and then he has them assume the position of a 15 or 16 seed, ostensibly depending on how he feels that week. This method should not be discounted -- the NCAA tournament committee does much of the same thing on selection Sunday (for example, how did Vermont garner a 16 seed last year? How?? Many teams rated higher than them did not have a road victory against a power conference team). This is not to say Lunardi, and others like him, disregard RPI and SOS in making their bracket, but it seems like they use it only for the top 12 or 13 seeds in each region, knowing that a small population of people (like Cats fans) actually nitpick about the 14-16 seeds.
Regardless, it was nice to see the Catamounts get some respect, as RealTimeRPI projected them as a 14 seed in their latest bracket projections. The 14 seed is not only a desirable spot to be ranked (it was a #13 seed they drew when they shocked Syracuse in 2005, but hopefully I don't need to remind you), but it also means RealTImeRPI is projecting the Cats as the America East conference champions, despite being one game behind Maine in the standings.
Of course, Joe Lunardi has Maine as a 16 seed, with Vermont nowhere to be found in his latest bracket.
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