This is not 2003
Ever since the Vermont loss, people have said this team feels like the 2003 team that underachieved and was eventually snubbed by the selection committee. There are some similarities, but ultimately I think this team is different and will have a different ending.
Losing their big man. 2003: Uka Agbai broke his neck against Holy Cross and redshirted after three games. (While this hurt 2003, I really think Agbai’s presence helped the very young 2004 team that surprised everyone.) 2007: Infamously lost Sean Williams for disciplinary reasons.
An uneven non-conference resume. 2003: Losses to Holy Cross, Northeastern, Kent State and wins over Iowa St., NC State, UMass. 2007: Losses to Vermont, Duquesne and wins over Michigan State, UMass, and Rhode Island.
Short bench with one star as the focal point. 2003: mostly a seven man rotation with Troy Bell as the guy carrying the team. 2007: mostly a seven man rotation with Dudley carrying the team (should be noted, Rocke is getting more minutes of late).
Solid conference record. 2003: 10-6 and 1-1 in the BE Tournament. 2007: TBD, but currently sitting on 9 wins.
RPI. I am not a big fan of the RPI, but it is a factor. 2003: Our RPI was 49. Prime bubble territory. 2007: Our RPI sits at 29. Even if we lost our next three (which I don’t see) it is unlikely to fall into the 40s. Plus 2007 schedules plays much better with RPI than 2003. For example our losses to Vermont and Duquesne (and even Kansas) are not nearly as hurtful RPIwise as Kent State and Northeasern were. And our non conference wins over Michigan St and Rhode Island are giving our RPI a bump we didn't get from Iowa St and NC State in 2003.
Conference Reputation. 2003: Although Syracuse won the whole thing in 2003, it was not a great year for the Big East. 2007: Most are saying the ACC is the best and deepest conference in the country. I also think the 10 regular season wins in the ACC means more than it meant in the Big East in 2003.
Last Ten games. 2003: Finished the regular season 7-3. 2007: TBD but unlikely to finish as strong.
Ultimately, I think if we win Saturday or next week against Georgia Tech, we are in. I think the 2003 team started out rough and closed strong against a weak portion of their schedule. I think this year’s team will struggle closing out the season but will have built up enough good will with their early run and RPI to get in.
All that said, if we lose our next three, we don’t deserve to go in.