Metric Monday: Tigers (still) camped on edge of NCAA tournament discussion.

LSU’s taken out the shovel and tried to a dig a grave.

They just haven’t climbed on it.

Yet.

On Monday, the NCAA released its weekly update of the Ratings Percentage Index. The Tigers (15-9, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) reside at No. 72, a five-spot drop from where they were last Monday. Of course, losing to Texas A&M, the No. 138 team in the RPI, is the root cause. The Tigers’ fifth-consecutive road loss at Arkansas (No. 75) doesn’t cause much harm. And it helped, too, that Georgia moved up to No. 88 and no longer qualifies as a “bad loss” in the eyes of most bracket gurus.

CBS Sports analyst Jerry Palm moved LSU out of his pool of squads in the scrap for the final at-large bids in the field. He’s got the Tigers among his clutch of teams with work to do.

Here’s LSU’s resume, for reference:

  • Overall Record: 15-9.
  • SEC Record: 6-6 (No. 6 seed).
  • RPI: No. 72.
  • Strength of Schedule: No. 71.
  • Record vs. RPI No. 1-50: 3-2.
  • Record vs. RPI No. 51-100: 2-4.
  • Recond vs. RPI No. 100-200: 5-3.
  • Good wins: Kentucky (No. 11), Missouri (No. 38), Saint Joseph’s (No. 41).
  • Good losses: UMass (No. 19), Memphis (No. 39).
  • Bad losses: Alabama (No. 118), Texas A&M (No. 136), Rhode Island (No. 175)

Like I said, it’s a really soft bubble this season for LSU to still find its name in the mix. And that speaks to the bi-polar nature of LSU’s profile. You can see flashes of a team that deserves to be in the mix, but once that group hits the road it all goes to pot. Ultimately, the Tigers are trending away from a bid. That happens when drop from No. 54 in the RPI over the space of two weeks. Anyway, below you can see where projections have LSU sitting.

The remaining schedule isn’t kind, either. Or at least it doesn’t seem conducive to repairing whatever damage has been inflicted. The projection below comes from KenPom.com

  • vs. Mississippi State, W
  • at Kentucky, L
  • vs. Texas A&M, W
  • at Florida, L
  • at Vanderbilt, L
  • vs. Georgia, W

Basically, the model doesn’t have faith LSU can fix its road woes against two teams in UK and UF inside the RPI top 15 and a tricky test at Vanderbilt (No. 77) in the season’s final week. If LSU steals a win at Rupp on Saturday, then it might be worth reopening the discussion. And other teams play games, too, so there’s a chance a door might crack open if a bubble team struggles down the stretch.

There’s also the SEC tournament, but the Tigers would likely need a deep run into the weekend to make any kind of noise.  If you’re curious, RPIForecast.com, simulated the scenarios. Here’s the gist and the most likely outcome its computers spat out:

  • Expected Overall Record: 19-13
  • Expected SEC Record: 9-9
  • Expected SEC Tournament Record: 1-1
  • Projected RPI: 73.7
  • Projected SOS: No. 72

The takeaway is a sobering confirmation of what you might have suspected: LSU needs serious help right now to end a NCAA tournament drought. The forecast seems to indicate a NIT trip is in the cards, one that will force LSU to go on the road for the opening round regardless of their seed because the PMAC is hosting a women’s NCAA tournament regional.