What if Cornell and Hobart Actually Played in 2012?

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 29: Cornell Big Red fans look on before game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2010 NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse Semifinal Championship game on May 29, 2010 at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Here are two facts:

  1. My current working location -- southwestern Connecticut, home to hedge funds, pastels, and nepotism -- is experiencing something that I, as an amateur meteorologist, am dubbing DEATHWAVE OF DEATH HEAT. Basically, it's really hot outside and I want to poison the sky for poisoning my face with heat.
  2. My former location for four years -- Central New York, home to the best reason to never go on the South Beach diet: salt potatoes -- has, for about six months of the year, my favorite kind of weather: miserable cold with a dash of SNOWWAVE OF DEATH SNOW.

It's not all that surprising that, as I sit here in a conference room sweating until I've entered my own (unsanctioned) wet t-shirt contest, I could really go for some snow right now. And as I think about snow, I get the tingles in my fingers about the start of college lacrosse season. And as I think about snow and February lacrosse, I obviously think about this:

Cornell and Hobart never played that game -- it was originally postponed then abandoned, like a child that wanted too many things and was given a free vacation to a garbage dumpster for, what was initially anticipated, eternity. This made my brain -- useless in this extreme heat due to complete and utter disrespect for being housed in my skull and not set free to air conditioned glory -- ask the following question: If Cornell and the Statesmen had actually played that game, how would that have impacted the Big Red's chances to get into the NCAA Tournament?

I mean, Denver and Cornell were pretty much neck-and-neck for that final at-large position. Would a Hobart victory have improved the Red's profile enough to put them through?

The answer: It may have benefitted Cornell a little bit that the game was not played. Show me a chart!

CORNELL-HOBART PERMUTATIONS
RECORD RPI RPI SOS QWF
CORNELL (NO CU-HC) 9-4 13 22 20
CORNELL (CU-HC INC.) 10-4 14 24 20
DENVER (NO CU-HC) 8-6 4 15 9
DENVER (CU-HC INC.) 8-6 4 15 9

Outside of "Record," all listed numbers are actually ranking positions.

Some brief thoughts follow after the jump.

  • Assuming that Tony Seaman and the selection committee would stick strongly to straight RPI numbers like it did in May, the Big Red actually look a little worse with a Hobart win on their resume. The victory smacks the Red's strength of schedule and even drops them a spot in the RPI. The game has no impact on Denver's overall situation because it is a muted blip on its radar (it's a function of the RPI formula and its weighting of factors).
  • The win does push Cornell to 10 wins on the season while Denver holds at eight. Cornell held a head-to-head with the Pioneers on the year, and that fact moves Cornell into a stronger position from a resume position. However, the rest of the selection criteria the committee must use to fill out the at-large field is almost entirely built around the RPI. Denver shows better in all those metrics, especially with a Hobart win on Cornell's schedule.
  • The reliance on the RPI to fill out the NCAA Tournament at-large pool continues to be stupid. It's a good thing for college lacrosse -- and upstate lacrosse -- that Cornell and Hobart play a nonconference game. There's history there and its important for the game in those communities. Why should Cornell be punished for playing (and winning) that game? Is this really the message we want to send to Division I lacrosse: If you're elite, you need to only play the elite; rack up all the expense of doing so and leave behind the tradition of your local communities so that you can generate an acceptable RPI score. That's pretty ass-backwards. Fix this issue, NCAA.
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