Why not Siena?

Wins Loses RPI
Team A 20.5 11.83 110.83
Team B 10.67 20.33 179

The above table represents the average wins, loses, and RPI of two NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs over the past six seasons (the time frame used in determining NCAA Basketball Distribution Fund payout). Both of these programs have been connected in media reports with the Catholic Seven. One gets into the new conference. One might be left out. Which one would you choose?

Let’s make this more interesting with the inclusion of this information. Team B has made 0 NCAA Tournament appearances and 1 NIT in that time frame. Team A has made 3 NCAA Tournament appearances, winning two games. Change your mind, or are you still leaning towards Team A?

Team A, questioned by many fans of other teams as a legitimate option for the Catholic Seven is none other than, as you’ve likely guessed, the Siena Saints. Team B? That would be Catholic Seven member DePaul.

This is not to mock DePaul. Certainly they have had success in their history, but that success largely came prior to 1992. Prior to vacating four seasons of wins and NCAA appearances stretching from 1986-1989 due to booster violations. You wouldn’t know this from reading most media reports. Membership in the Catholic Seven is equivalent to basketball excellence with no examination of record while mid-major schools like Siena are critiqued, evaluated, and spit out based solely on current win loss record.

Here is a look at the full year by year six year comparison between the two schools.

Year Wins Loses RPI Year Wins Loses RPI
2011-12 14 17 223 2011-12 12 19 197
2010-11 13 18 202 2010-11 7 24 234
2009-10 27 6 31 2009-10 8 23 212
2008-09 26 7 18 2008-09 9 24 206
2007-08 23 11 64 2007-08 11 19 157
2006-07 20 12 127 2006-07 17 13 68
AVERAGE 20.50 11.83 110.83 AVERAGE 10.67 20.33 179.00

Beyond DePaul, a favorable comparison of the Saints can be made against several other candidate and current member institutions of the Catholic Seven.

Richmond over this same span had an 8-22 record and RPI of 272 in 2006-07, with 3 other seasons ending with an RPI over 100. They do have two NCAA appearances and one Sweet Sixteen appearance in that time frame as well.

Saint Louis has three seasons in that span with an RPI over 100 and one NCAA tournament appearance resulting in one tournament win. The school has 7 total NCAA tournament appearances dating back to 1952.

Saint John’s, DePaul, Providence, and Seton Hall have exactly one NCAA tournament appearance amongst them in this six year time frame, with no wins. Combined they have RPIs over 100 in 17 of the 24 seasons looked at.

The point of this isn’t to say Siena should or should not be invited to join the Catholic Seven, that’s for the present members of the C7 to decide. The point of this is to say, that is it so crazy to think that Siena would be mentioned in the conversation based on their program history and recent success?

With an established fan base and strong attendance figures against MAAC competition, as noted in our previous article, a 15,500 seat arena to host home games, recent national exposure via two NCAA wins, and a planned 13,000 sq ft on campus basketball facility, why shouldn’t the Saints be included in the discussion? Aside from these facilities the school is a Catholic institution in a growing mid-size market with no professional competition to eat market share. Forget their present conference. Gonzaga is in the West Coast Conference. Butler until a year ago was in the Horizon League. There is enough on this resume to warrant discussion, and enough to make Siena fans hopeful of their future.

I’d personally love to see their inclusion with the Catholic Seven. Imagine seeing Georgetown, St John’s, and Villanova regularly come to town. A throw back to the era of the Catholic Invitational Tournament, which Siena won in 1950, and an upset win over Seton Hall, which propelled Siena to 11th in the AP Poll in the 1951-52 season.

Time will tell if there was any merit to the rumors, but one thing is sure, it’s not a rumor that should simply be written off as a fairy tale.

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