When it comes to schools outside the "big six" conferences, gauging the bubble teams is a much harder exercise. To date we've been basing our assessments on record, RPI and strength of schedule (SOS), while using adjusted scoring margin (ASM) as a predictor of future success. All of those numbers still apply outside of the big six, but making predictions becomes much trickier. Why? In short, because the numbers have a tendency to lie.
Take this year's Siena team for example. Given our predefined "magic number" of 50, at 21-6 and with an RPI of 29, Siena seems like a shoo-in to make the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid, should it need one. However, the Saints' RPI is skewed by the nation's third-toughest nonconference schedule. And while Siena went toe-to-toe with Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Kansas, the games all ended with Goliath scraping the Saints off his heel. The Saints are 0-4 against the RPI top 50. A tough schedule is great, but if you want to impress the tournament committee, at some point you have to win those games.