Huskies can't rely on AAC for help

Here is what I've learned: NCAA tournament committee members, much like weather forecasters, haven't gotten one right since before Dick Vitale needed a comb. Hence, lamenting their musings is fruitless, unless you believe a bunch of NCAA lackeys care what we think.

The more productive exercise: Is there something to be gleaned from their incompetence that could perhaps save a future season?

What befell the American Athletic Conference on Selection Sunday should serve as a cautionary tale for UConn. Translation: The committee's decision to treat the conference like the bottom of the bird cage suggests the Huskies' nonleague schedule must be more competitive than ever starting immediately.

Southern Methodist's snub and improper seedings for Louisville and UConn illustrates what the committee thinks of victories within the AAC. Not much. SMU has been criticized for its nonleague schedule, the strength of which was in the 300s. Louisville's best nonconference win: Southern Mississippi. UConn's No. 7 seed must have come through guilt by association, because Jerry Palm of CBS ranked the Huskies' nonconference schedule as No. 30 in the nation.

Next season, the AAC loses Louisville. That leaves UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati and a conga line of mid majors, meaning respect for the league will swirl the bowl with more verve, if that's possible.

We can scream about this until we're hoarse. Nobody cares. And until athletic director Warde Manuel can deliver the Huskies from the sporting Elba, UConn should do its best to leave little doubt with committee members by giving them what they want: play anybody anywhere.

The news appears good thus far. Intrepid beat writer Gavin Keefe here at America's Most Underrated Media Outlet says the Huskies are playing at Florida and at Stanford next season. There's a tournament in Puerto Rico with Dayton and New Mexico, two tournament teams from this season as well as games against West Virginia, Charleston, George Mason, Texas A&M, Boston College and Texas.

In past years, that's a great nonleague schedule. But is it good enough now? I'd love to see one more Gatsby added, mostly because I trust the committee less than I trust Putin. Remember, too, that within the conference, two high level games with Louisville become two games against somebody you've never heard of.

Now I understand that UConn needs to guard against schedule suicide. But I'd err on the side of brutal, especially in the brave new world of the American. I was never among the crowd that would criticize Jim Calhoun for the occasional tepid nonleague schedule, not with Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova and Pittsburgh looming in the Big East.

Ah, the good ol days.

This much we know about next year's potential schedule: It's helpful the Huskies play at Florida and Stanford. Our society's burgeoning blind adherence to statistical data has increased the significance of road games because the Ratings Percentage Index says so.

The RPI, a metric that adds weight to a team's Division 1 winning percentage, strength of schedule and opponents' strength of schedule, has become more important than a lung.

Mike Vega of the Boston Globe wrote a fascinating story on the RPI earlier this season.

Mike wrote: "a quarter of a team's RPI is derived from weighted scores given to home wins (0.6), neutral wins (1.0), and road wins (1.4). Road losses are weighted the same as a home win, while neutral losses and home losses against teams in the RPI top 25 aren't as catastrophic."

Hence, the RPI says a loss on the road doesn't hurt as much as a loss at home. A win on the road is worth more than a win at home. Do the math.

Some days, it amazes me that college sports have such cachet in our country, given how the football and basketball championship tournaments are subject to such subjectivity. Sort of like boxing, which is deader than Hoffa.

Still, college sports survive, perhaps in spite of themselves. And nothing survives - and prevails - like the NCAA tournament.

The Huskies are back in it. It's good for the fans and for business.

Whether they make it next season - or whether they do and earn a suitable seed - has less to do with how they fare in the AAC and much more to do with whom they beat out of league and where they beat them.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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