The Washington Times - March 13, 2011, 03:06PM

Two of the most notable borderline NCAA tournament teams are Colorado and Alabama.

Both are in danger of joining a long and not-so-illustrious list of teams with nonconference schedule strengths of 280 or worse that wind up missing the tournament.

SEE RELATED:


Colorado (21-13, 8-8 Big 12, RPI 65, SOS 49) would seem like a classic bubble possiblity. The Buffaloes also have a nonconference schedule strength ranked 325th.

As for Alabama (21-11, 12-4 SEC, RPI 80, SOS 114) has a less compelling argument and a slightly better nonconference schedule strength: 285th.

Per Jerry Palm’s superb CollegeRPI.com site, here’s a list of every at-large pick since 2003 with a nonconference schedule strength of 280 or worse and a sampling of those with shaky schedules that were ultimately snubbed:

MADE

2004: South Carolina (23-10, 8-8 SEC, RPI 45, SOS 66, NC SOS 299, No. 10 seed)
2004: Air Force (22-6, 12-2 MWC, RPI 70, SOS 183, NC SOS 315, No. 11 seed)
2006: Boston College (26-7, 11-5 ACC, RPI 22, SOS 70, NC SOS 282, No. 4 seed)
2006: George Washington (26-2, 16-0 A-10, RPI 37, SOS 207, NC SOS 323, No. 8 seed)
2007: Notre Dame (24-7, 11-5 Big East, RPI 31, SOS 106, NC SOS 311, No. 6 seed)
2007: Washington State (25-7, 13-5 Pac-10, RPI 25, SOS 89, NC SOS 312, No. 3 seed)
2008: Stanford (26-7, 13-5 Pac-10, RPI 14, SOS 56, NC SOS 293, No. 3 seed)

MISSED

2005: Virginia Tech (15-13, 8-8 ACC, RPI 112, SOS 91, NC SOS 313)
2006:
Florida State (19-9, 9-7 ACC, RPI 63, SOS 94, NC SOS 316)
2008:
Minnesota (20-10, 8-10 Big Ten, RPI 101, SOS 113, NC SOS 284)
2008: Arizona State (19-12, 9-9 Pac-10, RPI 83, SOS 77, NC SOS 294)
2008: Nebraska (19-12, 7-9 Big 12, RPI 96, SOS 94, NC SOS 310)
2009: Penn State (22-11, 10-8 Big Ten, RPI 70, SOS 90, NC SOS 307)
2009: Kansas State (21-11, 9-7 Big 12, RPI 81, SOS 98, NC SOS 308)
2010:
Wichita State (25-9, 12-6 MVC, RPI 43, SOS 105, NC SOS 284)
2010: Virginia Tech (23-8, 10-6 ACC, RPI 59, SOS 133, NC SOS 339)

The last borderline tournament teams with a nonconference schedule strength to get in were South Carolina and Air Force in 2004.

Among the notable misses were 2006 Florida State, 2008 Arizona State, 2009 Penn State and 2010 Virginia Tech. All those teams had decent cases … except for the strength of the games they had a say in scheduling.

Maybe Colorado makes it thanks to an expanded field. But if it doesn’t, it will have its lousy nonconference schedule to thank for relegating it to the NIT – a fate teams with similar profiles have suffered in recent years.

Patrick Stevens