EAST LANSING, Mich. – The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has a new system for categorizing college basketball games, and it will change the way teams are seeded in the bracket.
In the old format, games were broken down into categories based on the opponent's RPI. No matter where the game was played, each game was categorized by a game against a top 50 team, top 100 team, top 200 team, etc.
Now there's a quadrant system that takes into account where the games are played. Games against lesser teams at a neutral site or on the road can be rewarded as much as games against higher-ranked teams at home because of the huge home-court advantage in college basketball.
Here's a brief look at the four quadrants:
- Quadrant 1: Home games vs. RPI top 30, neutral games vs. RPI top 50, road games vs. RPI top 75
- Quadrant 2: Home games vs. RPI 31-75, neutral games vs. RPI 51-100, road games vs. RPI 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home games vs. RPI 76-160, neutral games vs. RPI 101-200, road games vs. RPI 136-240
- Quadrant 4: Home games vs. RPI 161-351, neutral games vs. RPI 201-351, road games vs. RPI 241-351
It's the first year with the new system, so nobody knows exactly how it will impact the final bracket.
Michigan State's best wins
Michigan State's seed line has sparked a hot debate due to the difference of opinion between the weekly poll voters and the selection committee members.
The Spartans are ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll and No. 1 in the Coaches Poll, yet when the committee released their top 16 last weekend, MSU was a No. 3 seed.
The biggest knock against Michigan State's resume is a shortage of Quadrant 1 wins. The Spartans have only played five Quadrant 1 games this season, and they're 3-2 in those games.
MSU's two best wins came on a neutral floor against RPI No. 8 North Carolina and at home against No. 14 Purdue. A road win over No. 63 Maryland is MSU's other Quadrant 1 victory.
The Spartans have several Quadrant 2 wins, but none of them are close to becoming Quadrant 1 wins.
Lack of bad losses
Michigan State only has three losses this season, and none of them can be considered bad losses.
MSU dropped an early game to No. 5 Duke on a neutral floor and a road game to No. 20 Ohio State. Both of those are Quadrant 1 games.
Technically, Michigan State's home loss to No. 37 Michigan is its worst loss of the season, but it's a Quadrant 2 loss to an NCAA Tournament team.
Strength of schedule
The entire Big Ten is suffering in terms of schedule strength, as the conference only has four teams that are locks to get into the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State owns the nation's No. 98 strength of schedule, and the No. 249 nonconference strength of schedule. Several of the wins that might have looked great at the beginning of the season -- Notre Dame, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana -- have turned into Quadrant 2 and Quadrant 3 wins because of disappointing team performances.
The Spartans played 12 games against teams outside the RPI top 150, and that hurt the strength of schedule. Games against No. 316 Cleveland State and No. 336 Houston Baptist were especially damaging.
If Michigan State wins its final three games -- including Quadrant 2 tests at both Northwestern and Wisconsin -- and captures the Big Ten Tournament crown, there's a great chance it will earn a No. 1 seed.
But if the Spartans suffer another loss this season, the overall schedule weakness will likely keep them off the top line.