Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mid-majors and conference schedules

Let's chat about conference schedules.  Two conferences are going full bonkers in the 18-19 season with their schedules:

https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/the-sun-belt-is-the-latest-to-alter-its-scheduling-in-order-to-enhance-its-ncaa-tournament-chances/

Sun Belt:  Has a 20 game conference schedule.  The first 16 games will be standard:  10 games within your division (home-and-home), 6 games outside your division.  Usual stuff.

The final 4 games are wildly different.  Teams are placed in groups of three based on conference record:  1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12.  You play home-and-home within your group.  This means the top 3 teams get 4 games against each other.

The end result?  It's quite possible one or two of the road games in these final four games are Group 1 (top 70 RPI) win chances.  And at the very least, they should be Group 2 win chances.  Plus the home games should be Group 2 win chances.

CUSA:  Has an 18 game conference schedule.  First 14 games are against the other 13 teams, plus one designated rival/travel partner.  Usual stuff.

The final 4 games are wildly different.  Teams are placed in three groups based on conference record:  1-5, 6-10, 11-14.  You play 4 games within your group (each team, either home or away).  This means the top 5 teams get 4 games against each other.

The end result?  You can copy and paste the paragraph above.  It's probable that one or both road games are Group 1 win chances, and at the very least are Group 2 win chances.  The added bonus is that a home game against a top top team (think MTSU) might squeak into Group 1 as well.



The methodology is clunky, but the goal is really, really simple.  The committee has sent a message in the past couple of years.  They care about quality wins a lot.  More than most other resume items.  The more quality wins, the better.  The more Group 1 wins, the better.  The overall record in such games isn't quite as important.  Going 4-11 in such Group 1 games seems to be getting rewarded more than going 3-3 in such games.  The raw number of wins is becoming more important than the ratio of wins to losses in such games.

This is the mid-major response to that.  These teams don't get 10-15 Group 1 win chances.  They get 3-6 on average.  Even if you go 3-1 in such games, it seems the committee would rather take the team that went, say, 5-8 in such games.  Therefore, the solution is obvious:  more Group 1 games!  These moves will give at-large contenders in each conference, on average, about 2 more Group 1 win chances.  It may be 1, or 3, in some years, of course.  But on average, I think 2 is the number.  And if a team adds 2 such wins because of this?  That 3-1 or 3-2 record becomes 5-1 or 5-2.  Even if they go 1-1 in such games, you're going from 3-2 to 4-3.  Every single win helps.

Also this will help SoS.  Avoid the RPI calorie bombs at the bottom of your league.  That's pretty big as the Sun Belt and CUSA both have some ugly RPIs at the bottom of their standings each year.

The bottom line:  Mid-majors have received the message from the selection committee.  Manufacture as many quality win chances as you can, period.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Selection committee takeaways

Let's just do a quick recap.  I usually like to wait a couple of weeks to let the dust settle, then analyze what happened.

1) The committee went full S-Curve on the top 2 lines.  They did not place teams by geography; they matched 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, and so forth.  This is a pretty big admission.  They said they had trouble creating balance in the bracket if they went based on geography.  So in the future, we now know the NCAA will protect balanced brackets, even over geography, if they have to.

2) Non-conference SoS just doesn't matter anymore.  It's all about overall SoS.  Kansas St skated by with an atrocious number; Florida St and Virginia Tech's seeds weren't punished at all.  The committee is now showing the trend of forgiving a bad non-con SoS - IF your overall SoS is good.

2b) By that same token, if your conference is weak, then you WILL be punished, period.  St Mary's had a non-con SoS around 180.  Not good, but not awful either.  Played the Wooden Legacy, played a few name teams.  But since they failed to get tournament-caliber teams, they eventually got punished for it.  A bad CUSA conference was the downfall of MTSU, even though their non-con SoS was in the top 10.

2c) This brings up a bigger-picture thing.  The committee has increased the use of analytics, of additional statistics and metrics.  This has benefited the Power 6 conferences.  Make no mistake, the use of these new metrics are anti-mid major.  Mid-majors simply do not have the resources to build the same type of resume as a Power 6 school. 

Many believe it's the responsibility of the committee to account for these imbalances, and to help out the mid-major during the selection process.  The committee has gone the other way.  They are now saying that they will evaluate each school based on these metrics, without consideration to context or the ability of each school to build a good resume.  The committee is basically saying it's not their responsibility if mid-majors can't build the same type of resume that a Power 6 school can.

On one hand, it's not the worst position in the world to take.  The committee is stripping all context, all outside influences.  They are simply stating that they will evaluate schools based solely on what is on their resume.  However, it ignores that not all schools have the same chance to build the same resume.  The NCAA is basically telling the mid-majors that their plight isn't their problem.  I think that's the wrong approach.

In many sports, we're seeing the use of advanced metrics.  Baseball has changed with sabermetrics.  Basketball has changed once people realized long 2s are no longer good shots.  Metrics and analytics are changing the ways sports are played in general.  However, the NCAA is trying to apply the same methodology that other sports use for how to play the game, and applying it to a selection process.  Selection of teams for a tournament, and style of play of teams are two different things, and the same process of applying metrics cannot be applied to both in the same way.  What I'm saying is that we're getting a little too analytical in the selection process.  We have a selection committee because we know the numbers by themselves are insufficient to judge teams.  The road we're going down; we might as well create a BCS formula.

3) Seeding by the committee has improved.  This year?  I kind of have no major qualms.  My biggest miss this year was Providence by 3 seed lines, but even I admitted going into Selection Sunday that I was overseeding Provi by default, and that I wasn't enthusiastic about it.  I have no major issues with what they did.

4) I went 67 of 68.  Missed Kansas St and USC.  Had USC last in.  In retrospect, I should've excluded USC for the same reason I excluded Louisville - lack of signature wins.  But I didn't want to put in K-State's non-con SoS either.  In the end, I'm okay with 67.

5) Seeding on the 11-12-13 lines is getting tougher.  This year, it appears they highlighted signature wins first.  Hence SDSU and Loyola on the 11 line, and Buffalo and Charleston slipping to the 13 line.  I'm also surprised Marshall was so low given their wins over MTSU.  Seeding these autobids are getting tougher and tougher by the year.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

NIT projections FINAL

The 1 line:  Notre Dame, Baylor, St Mary's, USC
The 2 line:  Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Marquette, Oklahoma St
The 3 line:  Boise St, Utah, Penn St, Nebraska,
The 4 line:  Oregon, Western Kentucky, Washington, LSU
The 5 line:  Mississippi St, Northeastern, Tulsa, Temple
The 6 line:  Vermont, Louisiana, Rider, UC Davis
The 7 line:  Harvard, Northern Kentucky, Wagner, UNC Asheville
The 8 line:  SE Louisiana, FGCU, Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Last 4 out:  Georgia, Maryland, Stanford, BYU
Next 4 out:  Toledo, Old Dominion, Colorado, Memphis
Next 4 out:  Boston College, South Carolina, Central Florida, New Mexico

1) Notre Dame vs. 8) Hampton
4) Western Kentucky vs. 5) Temple
3) Penn St vs. 6) Vermont
2) Middle Tennessee vs. 7) Wagner

1) Baylor vs. 8) SE Louisiana
4) Washington vs. 5) Mississippi St
3) Nebraska vs. 6) Louisiana
2) Louisville vs. 7) Northern Kentucky

1) St Mary's vs. 8) Arkansas-Pine Bluff
4) Oregon vs. 5) Tulsa
3) Utah vs. 6) UC Davis
2) Marquette vs. 7) Harvard

1) USC vs. 8) FGCU
4) LSU vs. 5) Northeastern
3) Boise St vs. 6) Rider
2) Oklahoma St vs. 7) UNC Asheville

S-CURVE FINAL

I don't know.  I just don't bleeping know.  Give me 67/68 right NOW.

The final kerjigger:  Louisville out.  Needed signature wins.  So does USC frankly.  To me it was 4 teams for 2 spots, Syracuse and USC in, K-State and UL out.  Others are too flawed.

USC scares me.  St Mary's scares me.  EVERYONE on that mini-list below scares me.

The 1 line:  Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier
The 2 line:  North Carolina, Duke, Purdue, Cincinnati
The 3 line:  Tennessee, Michigan St, Auburn, West Virginia
The 4 line:  Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona, Gonzaga
The 5 line:  Kentucky, Clemson, Houston, Wichita St
The 6 line:  Ohio St, Florida, Texas A&M, Miami
The 7 line:  Arkansas, TCU, Seton Hall, Providence
The 8 line:  Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Nevada
The 9 line:  Butler, Creighton, Alabama, Florida St
The 10 line:  North Carolina St, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA
The 11 line:  St Bonaventure, Arizona St, Syracuse, USC, Davidson, San Diego St
The 12 line:  New Mexico St, Loyola(Chi), Buffalo, Marshall
The 13 line:  Charleston, South Dakota St, Murray St, UNC Greensboro
The 14 line:  Montana, Bucknell, Wright St, Iona
The 15 line:  Georgia St, Penn, Lipscomb, Stephen F Austin
The 16 line:  UMBC, Radford, Cal St-Fullerton, LIU-Brooklyn, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern

Last 4 in:
St Bonaventure
Arizona St
Syracuse
USC

Last 7 out:
Louisville
Kansas St
St Mary's
Middle Tennessee
Baylor
Oklahoma St
Marquette

BRACKET FINAL

SOUTH
@Charlotte
1) Virginia vs. 16) Cal St-Fullerton/Texas Southern
8) Nevada vs. 9) Creighton
@San Diego
4) Texas Tech vs. 13) Charleston
5) Kentucky vs. 12) Marshall
@Nashville
3) Tennessee vs. 14) Bucknell
6) Ohio St vs. 11) Syracuse/Arizona St
@Pittsburgh
2) Cincinnati vs. 15) Penn
7) Seton Hall vs. 10) North Carolina St

WEST
@Detroit
1) Xavier vs. 16) UMBC
8) Virginia Tech vs. 9) Alabama
@San Diego
4) Arizona vs. 13) UNC Greensboro
5) Wichita St vs. 12) New Mexico St
@Wichita
3) Michigan St vs. 14) Montana
6) Texas A&M vs. 11) USC/St Bonaventure
@Charlotte
2) North Carolina vs. 15) Lipscomb
7) TCU vs. 10) UCLA

MIDWEST
@Wichita
1) Kansas vs. 16) Radford
8) Missouri vs. 9) Butler
@Boise
4) Gonzaga vs. 13) South Dakota St
5) Houston vs. 12) Loyola
@Dallas
3) Auburn vs. 14) Wright St
6) Miami vs. 11) San Diego St
@Detroit
2) Purdue vs. 15) Stephen F Austin
7) Providence vs. 10) Oklahoma

EAST
@Pittsburgh
1) Villanova vs. 16) LIU-Brooklyn/North Carolina Central
8) Rhode Island vs. 9) Florida St
@Boise
4) Michigan vs. 13) Murray St
5) Clemson vs. 12) Buffalo
@Dallas
3) West Virginia vs. 14) Iona
6) Florida vs. 11) Davidson
@Nashville
2) Duke vs. 15) Georgia St
7) Arkansas vs. 10) Texas

3/11 recap

SEC final:
Kentucky 77, Tennessee 72 - makes the call for UT on the 3 line a bit easier

A-10 final:
Davidson 58, Rhode Island 57 - ruh roh

AAC final:
Cincinnati 56, Houston 55

Ivy final:
Penn 68, Harvard 65 - one final bid thief for NIT, which is facing a real crunch...more in a couple hours

Southland final:
Georgia St 74, UT Arlington 61

3/11 morning bracket

Bracketing has turned into a secondary concern for me....so much depends on the exact order of teams on the S-Curve, so I try not to get too deep into it.  It's a futile effort.

I'll revise this later today based on results, naturally.

SOUTH
@Charlotte
1) Virginia vs. 16) Cal St-Fullerton/Texas Southern
8) Creighton vs. 9) Alabama
@San Diego
4) Texas Tech vs. 13) Charleston
5) Kentucky vs. 12) Marshall
@Nashville
3) Tennessee vs. 14) Bucknell
6) Ohio St vs. 11) Louisville/Arizona St
@Pittsburgh
2) Cincinnati vs. 15) Harvard
7) Seton Hall vs. 10) North Carolina St

WEST
@Detroit
1) Xavier vs. 16) UMBC
8) Virginia Tech vs. 9) Nevada
@San Diego
4) Arizona vs. 13) UNC Greensboro
5) Wichita St vs. 12) New Mexico St
@Wichita
3) Michigan St vs. 14) Montana
6) Texas A&M vs. 11) USC/Syracuse
@Charlotte
2) North Carolina vs. 15) Lipscomb
7) TCU vs. 10) UCLA

MIDWEST
@Wichita
1) Kansas vs. 16) Radford
8) Butler vs. 9) Missouri
@Boise
4) Gonzaga vs. 13) South Dakota St
5) Houston vs. 12) Loyola
@Dallas
3) Auburn vs. 14) Wright St
6) Miami vs. 11) San Diego St
@Detroit
2) Purdue vs. 15) Stephen F Austin
7) Providence vs. 10) Oklahoma

EAST
@Pittsburgh
1) Villanova vs. 16) LIU-Brooklyn/North Carolina Central
8) Rhode Island vs. 9) Florida St
@Boise
4) Michigan vs. 13) Murray St
5) Clemson vs. 12) Buffalo
@Dallas
3) West Virginia vs. 14) Iona
6) Florida vs. 11) St Bonaventure
@Nashville
2) Duke vs. 15) Georgia St
7) Arkansas vs. 10) Texas