Did a bit of research last night now that Maryland has (for now) a pair of top-five RPI victories.
Those would be against North Carolina and Michigan State.
Turns out, since 1993-94, there have been 40 teams that finished the season with two top-five victories. Predictably, 35 of them received NCAA tournament invites. Maryland has pulled it off four times (1995, 1998, 2000 and 2005).
But it’s the outliers that are interesting, which is why I’ll go ahead and take a look at them in this post.
1994 GEORGIA TECH
The Yellow Jackets (16-12, 7-9 ACC) beat North Carolina twice and Temple once, but sure weren’t helped with a losing league record, a humbling loss at one of those bad Les Robinson teams at Reynolds Coliseum and a quarterfinal pummeling at the hands of Wake Forest in the ACC tournament.
No doubt displeased, Georgia Tech lost to Siena in its NIT opener.
1994 WEST VIRGINIA
It was good that the Mountaineers (16-11, 8-8 Atlantic 10) swept two games from Temple. Not so good? Losing nine of the last 12 regular season games. The A-10, with Temple and UMass rolling, was good that year. Just not that good, which is why West Virginia went on to split two games in the NIT.
1995 GEORGE WASHINGTON
The Colonials (18-13, 10-6 A-10) swept Massachusetts (you know, the Marcus Camby Minutemen) in the regular season. But Rutgers proved to be late-season kryptonite, toppling Mike Jarvis‘ team twice in a week. Out GW (RPI: 72) went in the first round of the NIT, losing by a dozen at Ohio.
Despite a sweep of Kentucky, Dennis Felton‘s first Georgia team couldn’t make it to the tournament in the wake of the Jim Harrick shenanigans. At 16-13 (7-9 SEC), an RPI of 48 and a quarterfinal ouster from the conference tournament, the Bulldogs were a quintessential bubble team. They ended up losing at Iowa State in the NIT
Picking off Duke twice was counteracted by three losses to Clemson and a late-season egg at Virginia Tech. The Terps (16-12, 7-9, RPI: 57) were pretty much eliminated by the ACC first round loss to Clemson, and from there it was off to make a run to the NIT semifinals before falling to South Carolina.
—- Patrick Stevens