Everyone knows how important SoS is. And while things will obviously change, it's late enough that we can start to read the tea leaves and see where teams stand. Who scheduled up well and gave themselves a chance this year?
Georgia (6-3) RPI 41 SoS 1
A strong SoS number comes from truly avoiding cupcakes. They got solid mid-majors in Oakland, Winthrop, and High Point to fill the bottom part of their schedule. The issue, however, is that their signature win is...Georgia Tech at home? And they lost to Chattanooga and K-State at home. So it's not an at-large team, but they ARE set up to make a run if they get quality wins in the SEC. A team like this with a marginal SoS is dead in the water even with quality SEC wins, but with this SoS, they'll have a fighting chance.
Xavier (12-0) RPI 1 SoS 2
We're going to have to talk X and the 1 line before too long, folks. Also Villanova is sitting at SoS 5, so some strong RPI mojo will get passed around in the Big East.
Wichita St (5-5) RPI 57 SoS 6
Here is where you reap the rewards of scheduling up. Injuries will play an issue when evaluating this resume (if you believe results before Van Vleet came back should be discarded, we're looking at 4-1 with wins over Utah and UNLV and a loss at SHU). The very strong SoS will save Wichita barring disaster.
Florida (8-3) RPI 11 SoS 7
Kentucky (10-2) RPI 12 SoS 18
Vanderbilt (7-4) RPI 48 SoS 19
Alabama (7-3) RPI 25 SoS 20
Well done, SEC. Turned a problem into a strength.
The battle for the 1 line:
North Carolina (10-2) RPI 3 SoS 12
Michigan St (13-0) RPI 2 SoS 45
Maryland (11-1) RPI 34 SoS 166
Duke (9-2) RPI 27 SoS 30
Virginia (10-1) RPI 10 SoS 56
Iowa St (10-1) RPI 4 SoS 14
It's obviously early for this, but early leg up to UNC and ISU, and an early ding to Maryland.
Monmouth (9-3) RPI 13 SoS 26
Here's why I think Monmouth will at least hang in the at-large discussion. Took a 2-game road trip to UCLA/USC. Played a big MTT and big names within it. They also played 1 true home game out of 12 so far. The home/road thing is a discussion for a different post, but from a SoS perspective, they gave themselves enough big chances to offset what will happen to them in the MAAC.
Texas-Arlington (8-2) RPI 37 SoS 129
I've been championing them...with UTEP going in the tank a bit, they only have 4 legit games on the non-con SoS right now....all 4 roadies, and they split them (Ohio St and Memphis for, Texas and LaTech against). Really, splitting the legit games isn't bad. The SoS is really hurt by a few really harmful cupcakes. This will be an interesting test case in March if it comes to it.
Arkansas-Little Rock (8-1) RPI 35 SoS 182
While the schedule does have a lot of road/neutral games, it does have a couple cupcakes weighing it down. Plus, their wins (Tulsa, SDSU etc) are eroding a bit. While UTA is hanging up in the SoS department in the low 100s, it's much more difficult to make a case for one in the high 100s. We'll see though, because I do expect those quality wins to look better.
Valparaiso (8-2) RPI 20 SoS 87
I do think Valpo's non-con SoS will be in a comfortable range. They've done enough to make Horizon League play matter, IMO.
Dayton (9-2) RPI 9 SoS 3
Part of me thinks that the non-con SoS will be unsustainable, but it's obviously a perfect start, and should leave Dayton safely tucked within the bubble for a long time.
Long Beach St (4-8) RPI 85 SoS 8
UC-Santa Barbara (3-7) RPI 101 SoS 16
No at-large impact, but these numbers have helped the Big West climb the conference RPI rankings, and will help the conference's seed in March greatly. They'll get higher than they deserve, really.
Teams in the danger zone in the SoS department:
Marquette (10-2) RPI 158 SoS 306 - they're getting sunk by a plethora of bad cupcakes
Baylor (8-2) RPI 94 SoS 261 - doesn't help that NMSU and SFA are down this year. They're going to waste 3 games (1-2) against top 50 competition because of the other anchors
LSU (7-4) RPI 164 SoS 225 - their failures have been well-documented
Arizona (12-1) RPI 43 SoS 180 - obviously Zona will be fine, but we might need to scrutinize their seed more closely now