On January 2, 2003, the lowest RPI-rated team to eventually get an at-large bid was Colorado at #103. Other low-rated teams included Cal at 98 and Syracuse at 63. All other at-large teams were in the top 60. Highly ranked teams that failed to make it to the dance included UNC at #12, UNLV at #17, Kent St. at #20, and Virginia at #22. There were only 4 unbeatens at this time last year – there are currently 11.
So while the RPI is still insignificant, teams like Providence (currently 3rd) and Texas Tech (6th) would have to to stumble badly to not make the field of 65 at the end of the year. Conversely, teams like Missouri (90) and Marquette (96) are putting all their eggs in the conference basket.