Also, dig deeper into the numbers and one will find that only two teams in the country - No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Michigan State, according to the RPI - played a schedule in which the average rank of its opponents was higher than West Virginia's. Only 13 (nine of them in the top 11) can claim that the average rank of the opponents they defeated was higher than the average rank of the opponents WVU beat.
Of course, as much as those numbers are compelling, West Virginia is still ranked just No. 51 in the RPI. Many teams have been ranked much worse than that and made the field, but it is still at least a small red flag.
And, of course, the selection of the field is not an exact science. For instance, the committee a few years ago took out of its formula a team's performance at the end of the season, so WVU's 4-8 record since mid-January shouldn't matter. It is the entire body of work, so a win over Kansas State in December should be looked at with the same scrutiny as an overtime loss to Connecticut in March.
But do committee members really ignore that, or is it like a jury asked not to consider evidence it has already seen?
Also, the field itself is ever changing. As conference tournaments continue to play out this week, there is always the chance that teams presumed to be automatic qualifiers will be beaten and fall into the at-large pool. Other teams could make significant runs and elevate themselves into that pool.
The bottom line is that it won't be known for sure until Sunday evening.
"I don't think we're in a bad position,'' junior center Deniz Kilicli said after West Virginia's overtime loss to Connecticut Wednesday in New York. "We have the RPI and the strength of schedule and all of that.
"But you never know.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.