Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

On the Bubble, RPI Could Spell RIP for Hoyas

The Hoyas will be nervously counting down the days till Monday, when the NCAA men’s soccer tournament field will be announced. Adding to their anxiety will be the fact that the tournament pool consists of 48 teams, but the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings place the Hoyas at 57.

“The RPI is a strange creature,” said Keith Tabatznik, the last coach at Georgetown to take the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament. He explained that many factors go into mathematically formulating the rankings. “It takes into account your wins and losses, your opponents’ wins and losses and your opponents’ opponents’ wins and losses. . It tries to reward teams that play strong schedules.”

Although the Hoyas are ranked nine spots behind 48th place, the Blue and Gray are a part of one of the nation’s toughest leagues. The Big East slate may work in their favor with committee members who prioritize teams performing well with difficult schedules.

Tabatznik, who coached the Hoyas for 22 seasons before handing the reins to current Head Coach Brian Wiese, took the team to two NCAA tournaments in the 90s. The first was in 1994, when the Blue and Gray got in by winning the regular season Big East title. The second time around, in 1997, Tabatznik’s men proved their quality under pressure, and the team that won five overtime victories in the regular season made it to the Sweet 16.

“We actually hosted the first round at Georgetown [in 1994],” Tabatznik said. “It was a really special occasion. It was close to 5,000 there, Coach John Thompson Sr. and Father [Leo] O’Donovan were in the audience – it was quite special. Obviously, it did a lot for the campus, as well as for the program.”

The former coach spoke about importance of the NCAA tournament for Georgetown. Thanks to the Blue and Gray’s stint in the national tournament, he said, the program grew from its status as one with low funding and scant scholarships to a program that attracted quality recruits and collected better records.

There was a slight dip in the Hoyas’ performance in the years after the 1997 season, and despite the fact that some seasons the Hoyas came close to making the NCAA tournament, they were not able to hit the mark.

“We had been very close quite a number of years,” Tabatznik said. “But when I say close, I call it within two games.” He went on to emphasize the importance of winning games against strong teams, an important factor in the RPI.

The Hoyas’ head-to-head record against better-ranked teams could be the reason behind the dip in their RPI. The team lost twice to No. 16 USF and once to No. 8 Notre Dame this season; if the team had managed a win, or at the very least, a tie, against the two Big East powers, they would have a much better tournament resume.

On the other hand, the Blue and Gray’s 5-3-3 regular season Big East record led to a three seed in the conference tournament; the Hoyas had to face off in the first round against Cincinnati’s team, and came from behind to take the 3-1 win and progress to the quarterfinals.

“I think the Cincinnati game was a game we had to win,” Wiese said. “I think if we had beaten South Florida, it would have been a done deal. We wouldn’t have had to worry as much.

“The good thing we have is being in the Big East. It certainly helps. Through the years, [the Big East has gotten] seven teams in the NCAA tournament. I’m certain that we’re definitely in the top seven of the league this year. But is the league going to get seven again this year [in the NCAA tournament]? That’s what the committee decides.”

A lot still hangs in the balance for the Hoyas, who have turned around from last year’s mediocre record to post an 11-5-3 record on this season. It is this group of men that has made the strongest push in recent years to emulate the team that made the NCAA tournament a decade ago, and Wiese feels that it will be a tough blow for them if the team does not get a bid.

“I would be horribly disappointed for the boys if they don’t get a chance to compete in the tournament after the year they’ve had,” he said.

The seniors, who were freshmen during Tabatznik’s last season with the Hoyas, have been instrumental to the team’s success this season. “I have my best wishes for the program, and especially for the seniors,” Tabatznik said. “Whether they get in or not, they finished on a fantastic season, and I think they’re a huge reason why Georgetown had such a successful season this year.”

All Hoya eyes will be on the television screen come Monday, when ESPNEWS broadcasts the pick at 5:30 p.m.

“I think that this year’s team is a tournament-quality team,” Tabatznik said, “and if they fall short, it’ll be by the one or two results that they needed to have gone their way against the top teams.”

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