Since the RPI is such an important part of the NCAA selection process, I doubled the number for a team's RPI.
I'll list the 16 regional hosts, then write in detail about why I believe they are hosting and why I ranked them the way I did.
The 8 national seeds.
No. 1 - Vanderbilt's resume speaks for itself, a No. 2 RPI rating, 23rd SOS, 49 wins, a 22-4 record against Top-50 RPI teams, a 17-3 road record, 27 conference wins and a solid 8-2 record in their last 10 games.
No. 2 - This spot is a tight race between ACC rivals Virginia and North Carolina. Although Virginia had a slightly better overall point total (135 to 132 for North Carolina) for the categories combined, I simply can't choose them over a North Carolina club that had a better RPI (1 to 3), a better SOS (5 to 14), more wins (49 to 46), more wins against Top-50 RPI teams (22 to 18). What kept Virginia in the running for this spot was the fact that they won more on the road than North Carolina did (13 to 10), have more conference wins (23 to 22) and a better record in the last 10 games than North Carolina (8-2 to 6-4). Plus, Virginia defeated North Carolina 2 out of 3 in the last series of the regular season.
No. 3 - Virginia's resume (see No. 2 above) while not quite good enough to be a No. 2 seed definitely earns the No. 3 national seed.
No. 4 - This was another tight race, this time between Cal State Fullerton and LSU. I gave the sliver of a nod to LSU for several reasons, they have a better SOS (39 to 46), more regular season wins (49 to 46), more wins against Top-50 RPI teams (25 to 12), and more conference wins (26 to 21). What kept Cal State Fullerton in the running for this spot was their better RPI (5 to 6), more road wins (24 to 13) and a better record in the last 10 games (9-1 to 7-3). The two keys, among all the categories, that I saw as most important was the fact that LSU won more games in a tougher conference and they played more games against Top-50 RPI teams (33 to 16).
No. 5 - Cal State Fullerton earns this spot (see above for CSF's resume) over Oregon State. It was a slightly tight race but 12 wins against Top-50 RPI teams compared to 7 for Oregon State and a 24-4 road record to Oregon State's 18-6 earned them the spot.
No. 6 - Oregon State's 4 RPI, 18-6 road record, 22 conference wins and 9-1 record in the last 10 games earned them this spot over the next team in line for a national seed, North Carolina State.
No. 7 - North Carolina, thanks to an 0-2 record by Florida State in the ACC tournament, jumped into the national seed picture by taking Florida State's spot. Their resume includes a 9 RPI, 15 SOS, 43 wins, a 17-9 record against Top-50 RPI teams, a 15-5 road record, 20 conference wins and an 8-2 record in their last 10 games.
No. 8 - Oregon earns the the 8th national seed spot thanks to a 7 RPI, a 19 SOS, 43 wins, a 21-6 road record, 20 conference wins and an 8-2 record in their last 10 games. Something that leaves the door open for other teams just below them (Mississippi State, Virginia State, Florida State) is the fact that they only have a 6-10 record against Top-50 RPI teams. Plus, they still have three games against a poor Utah team. If they win those three, then they should be fine. If they lose 1 or 2 then it gets a little iffy for them if any of the teams below them have strong performances.
Here is my list of the 9 through 16 regional hosts.
No. 9 - Mississippi State has built a strong resume of late thanks to a very good performance at the end of the regular season and in the SEC Tournament. Their RPI of 10 and SOS of 10 were already very, very good. Now, with 43 wins and a 21-14 record against Top-50 RPI teams, their resume is even more solid. Something they will have to overcome, if they want to earn a national 8 seed, is their 8-9 road record, 19 conference wins and a 7-3 record in their last 10 games. They can't do anything about their road record since their games in the SEC Tournament are considered neutral games but they can do something about the rest by winning Saturday and Sunday. If they win those two games and Oregon falters against Utah then they have a shot to be a national 8 seed.
No. 10 - Virginia Tech, for some reason, doesn't seem to be getting much respect from other folks predicting who will host a regional. I guess I can understand that because of certain parts of their resume. They only have 37 wins, their record against Top-50 RPI teams is 12-14 and they only have 17 conference wins. Compared to other regional hosts contenders, most of those factors aren't in their favor. But they also have several strong points, including an 11 RPI, a 4 SOS, a 13-8 road record and a 9-1 record in their last 10 games. What is also in their favor is they are getting hot at the right time. In their 13 league games (2 in the ACC Tournament) they have won 10 of 13, including 3 of 4 against Virginia and 1 of 1 against Florida State.
No. 11 - Florida State was a probable national seed a week ago but three straight losses against North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have moved them out of the national seed picture for now. But they still have a very strong resume that includes an 8 RPI, a 17 SOS, 44 wins, an 11-9 road record and 20 conference wins. In addition to the three straight losses hurting them, they have also loss 5 of their last 10 and have a 14-14 record against Top-50 RPI teams. They'll need to do very well in the remainder of the ACC Tournament to move back into the national seed picture.
No. 12 - Louisville was being talked about as a national seed going into this week despite an 86 SOS and an 8-4 record against Top-50 RPI teams, but going 0-2 in the Big East Tournament pretty much knocked them out of that talk. They will still host a regional due to their solid resume, a 17 RPI, 46 wins, a 13-4 road record, 20 conference wins and an 8-2 record in their last 10 games.
No. 13 - UCLA has a solid resume that includes a 15 RPI, a 31 SOS, 38 wins, a 14-6 road record, 20 conference wins and an 8-2 record in their last 10 games. What kept them out of the national seed picture is a 5-8 record against Top-50 RPI teams, as well as the 15 RPI and 31 SOS.
No. 14 - South Carolina is probably a borderline regional host at the moment due to going 0-2 in the SEC Tournament, only 17 conference wins, going 11-14 against Top-50 RPI teams and a 6-4 in their last 10 games. But things they have going for them is the fact that they have a 13 RPI, a 12 SOS, and a 11-8 road record.
No. 15 - Indiana is in this spot more due to the NCAA wanting to spread the regionals across the country than due to their resume. They have a solid resume but others below them have better. What they do have in their favor on their resume is a league championship, a 14 RPI, 41 wins, a 15-9 road record. But things such as a 72 SOS, 18 conference wins and a 6-4 record in their last 10 games are not in their favor. But no matter how they do in their tournament, I still expect them to get a regional due to geographics.
No. 16 - Kansas State, like Indiana, is in the regional host talk mainly due to geographics. There is a need for a midwest team to host and winning the Big 12 conference championship gives them that spot. They do have a solid resume, though, with an 18 RPI, 40 wins, a 12-8 road record and an 8-2 record in their last 10 games. An 8-6 record vs Top-50 RPI teams, 17 conference wins and a 41 SOS is not in their favor, resume-wise, but they'll still get a regional due to geographics.
Other possible host teams.
Others who could jump into the regional host picture are South Alabama and Arkansas. Both need to win out in their league tournaments to have a chance though. If they do that, then I could see Arkansas taking South Carolina's spot. If Arkansas falters and South Alabama wins out, then I could see them taking South Carolina's spot.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.