By Jeff Portnoy
With only one game this week, i though i would review UH's 19-8 record based upon the opponent's RPI. There has been so much discussion about Hawaii beating the bottom teams in the league, losing to the better teams, the team's non-conference schedule, and the team's RPI that i did a little research and these are the facts.
First, I used the Pomroy ratings which almos everyont says is the most accurate of all the RPI services. According to Pomroy, Hawaii's RPI is 133 ( out of 355). Its strength of schedule is 269 overall and 300 non-conference ( pretty poor).
Uh has beaten four teams with a higher RPI. St Mary's ( 62); Irvine ( 92), Oregon State (111), and Western Michigan ( 130). Six of its eight losses have come to teams with better RPI's. Missiouri, Boise, New Mexico State, and Santa Barbara, Irvine and Long Beach in the Conference.
Hawaii has 14 wins against teams with lower RPI's, including teams with RPI's from 170 to 315, with most of these wins coming against teams in the bottom one third. These include two wins against Riverside ( 267) and Davis ( 315), and single wins against Fullerton ( 234) , Northridge ( 243) and Cal Poly ( 194). Two wins have come against Div 2 teams, Chaminade and Hilo, who are not included in the RPI.
Hawaii has two losses aginst teams with lower RPI's. Cal Poly and Northridge, both on the road.
So what conclusions can we draw from this class. Its that Hawaii has beaten up on weak teams, and has struggled against better teams. Hawaii has two games left against higher RPI teams, and teams ahead of the Rainbows in the Conference, Long Beach and Santa Barbara, both on the road, and then the final home game against Fullerton.
If Hawaii manages to win one or both of the road games, its RPI would improve slightly. Losses would not significantly hurt the RPI since both of these teams have better RPI's than Hawaii. A Fullerton loss wont improve the RPI. A loss would hurt it somewhat.
The league has only two teams in the top 100. Long Beach might sneak in, but if does, Irvine might fall out. So its clear that no Big West team is getting an at-large bid to either of the two real post season tournaments, the NCAA and the NIT. The regular season champ will go to the NIT and the Tournament champ to the NCAA. If its the same team, maybe the second place team makes the NIT. And frankly, i hope we dont play in any of the buy-in tournaments. In year four of the present regime, I would hope both they and the fans expect we either play in a real post season tournament or we say goodby to the seniors at Senior night.
Do I think the weak schedule has hurt the Bows in the big Conference games the last three weeks. I dont, but i do think a stronger pre-conference schedule is preferable to one with teams that dont help our RPI nor our post season chances. Yes, it helps the team get to 20 wins, but I think better competition makes you a better program in the long run. And maybe, just maybe, its an answer to why fans are not coming out like I would expect . Yes we have no natural league rivalries anymore and yes there was a State High School Tournament, and yes, the better games were on Thursday nights, and yes, you can watch the games at home on TV, but these are poor excuses for a program that will average just about half an arena for the season with an exciting brand of basketball, two of the better players in the league, and a likley 20 win season.
Meanwhile, the Long Beach game is for third place. Win, and I like our chances to finish third. Lose, and its possible we could slip to 5th. Of all the teams in the Conference, I think Long Beach is our worst match-up. Their guards are more athletic and quicker than our back court, and they have some talent in the paint. We will have to fiqure out some way to stay in front of their guards and have some second line defenders in the paint to win this game