Editor's Note: As Selection Sunday approaches, Dave Jones will check in with those members of the City 6 whose NCAA tournament resumes have them either in the tournament or on the bubble. Click here for Dave's selection committee guide and here for his Temple Owls outlook.
La Salle Explorers (18-7, 8-4)
Current outlook: Anxious but still optimistic
RPI rank: 37*
Non-con SOS rank: 121**
Important results (opponent RPI in parentheses)
Pretty wins (vs <51-RPI opponents): Butler (22), at Virginia Commonwealth (36)
Ugly losses (vs >99-RPI opponents): Central Connecticut State (203),
Two nice scalps, one on the road.
Nothing much to show from a so-so non-con schedule except a home win over Villanova (55).
What La Salle's 82-74 loss at Temple (47) means
For the Explorers, this was a lost opportunity. Road wins against top-50 teams are extremely important when the committee is parsing through endless data. They stand out. And, though La Salle does have a good one at VCU, you can't have too many. The Explorers have only one more shot at such a win in a true road game when play a Saint Louis (40) team that's playing extremely well in the regular season finale on March 9.
What the near future holds
A lot of potential trap doors. One of the most attractive aspects of the Explorers' resume so far is that it includes only one loss that stands out – way back on Nov. 18 against Central Connecticut. La Salle started slowly, played awful defense, tossed up tons of quick threes, and bricked free throws.
The committee is told to count all games equally no matter how recent or distant. But if the Explorers can right themselves after a major disappointment against Temple and forge through the next three games against substandard competition – at Rhode Island (189), Duquesne (212) and George Washington (128) – they can send a message to committee members that they are a stable, tournament-ready group. Lose one of these and there will be doubts.
*RPI courtesy of CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm.
**The non-conference strength of schedule rank is a figure available to the selection committee to gauge how rigorous a schedule each team attempted to play outside its mandated league slate.