Saturday, October 14, 2017

Offseason S-CURVE

While teams get bids, not conferences....when doing a preseason S-Curve you can't do it that way.  Otherwise if you add up all the probabilities, Power 6 teams dominate everything.  So do pay attention to the conference breakdown, it'll help describe what I think of each conference coming into the season.  Don't get too literal over placements of individual teams in the middle of the bracket.

The 1 line:  Duke, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky
The 2 line:  Villanova, North Carolina, Michigan St, Florida
The 3 line:  Wichita St, Notre Dame, West Virginia, USC
The 4 line:  Xavier, Purdue, Gonzaga, Cincinnati
The 5 line:  Miami, UCLA, Minnesota, Louisville
The 6 line:  Seton Hall, Northwestern, Texas, Virginia Tech
The 7 line:  Wisconsin, Oregon, St Mary's, Rhode Island
The 8 line:  Providence, Florida St, Alabama, Baylor
The 9 line:  Missouri, TCU, Virginia, Nevada
The 10 line:  St Bonaventure, Creighton, Stanford, Arkansas
The 11 line:  Oklahoma, Butler, UCF, Iowa, Michigan, VCU
The 12 line:  Northern Iowa, Towson, Middle Tennessee, Oakland
The 13 line:  Texas-Arlington, Western Michigan, Vermont, Iona
The 14 line:  New Mexico St, Belmont, Harvard, Bucknell
The 15 line:  FGCU, South Dakota St, Long Beach St, Furman
The 16 line:  Mount St Mary's, UNC-Asheville, Weber St, Stephen F Austin, Norfolk St, Texas Southern

Next 4 in:
Stanford
Arkansas
Oklahoma
Butler

Last 4 in:
UCF
Iowa
Michigan
VCU

Last 4 out:
Texas A&M
Boise St
Georgia Tech
UConn

Next 4 out:
SMU
Maryland
Arizona St
Vanderbilt

Break it down!
ACC 8
B1G 7
Big 12 6
Big East 6
Pac-12 5
SEC 5
AAC 3
A-10 3
WCC 2

Offseason BRACKET

SOUTH
@Charlotte
1) Duke vs. 16) UNC-Asheville/Norfolk St
8) Alabama vs. 9) TCU
@Wichita
4) Xavier vs. 13) Western Michigan
5) Miami vs. 12) Northern Iowa
@San Diego
3) USC vs. 14) New Mexico St
6) Virginia Tech vs. 11) UCF/Michigan
@Nashville
2) Florida vs. 15) FGCU
7) Oregon vs. 10) Creighton

EAST
@Nashville
1) Kentucky vs. 16) Mount St Mary's
8) Providence vs. 9) Virginia
@Boise
4) Cincinnati vs. 13) Iona
5) UCLA vs. 12) Oakland
@Detroit
3) Notre Dame vs. 14) Belmont
6) Northwestern vs. 11) Oklahoma
@Pittsburgh
2) Villanova vs. 15) Long Beach St
7) Rhode Island vs. 10) Stanford

WEST
@San Diego
1) Arizona vs. 16) Weber St
8) Baylor vs. 9) Nevada
@Boise
4) Gonzaga vs. 13) Vermont
5) Minnesota vs. 12) Middle Tennessee
@Pittsburgh
3) West Virginia vs. 14) Harvard
6) Seton Hall vs. 11) Iowa/VCU
@Detroit
2) Michigan St vs. 15) South Dakota St
7) St Mary's vs. 10) St Bonaventure

MIDWEST
@Wichita
1) Kansas vs. 16) Stephen F Austin/Texas Southern
8) Florida St vs. 9) Missouri
@Dallas
4) Purdue vs. 13) Texas-Arlington
5) Louisville vs. 12) Towson
@Dallas
3) Wichita St vs. 14) Bucknell
6) Texas vs. 11) Butler
@Charlotte
2) North Carolina vs. 15) Furman
7) Wisconsin vs. 10) Arkansas

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New selection guidelines. Break it down!

http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/di-men-s-basketball-committee-redefines-quality-win

A change in the nitty-gritty sheet. In the past, the sheet divides games into 4 categories: games against the RPI Top 50, 100, 200, and 201+.

The big change is the change in cutoff for each of the 4 categories. The first tier is now Top 30 home games, Top 50 neutral site games, and Top 75 road games. And so forth.  We'll do a full breakdown below.

This is a significant on the following levels:
1) They're clearly listening to everyone else. Everyone knows road games are tougher. Now, instead of relying on the committee to view the sheet and make adjustments in their mind, the adjustments will be made on the sheet itself.
2) This shows the emphasis they were putting into these tiers in the first place....which is something most people have underestimated over the years.
3) This is the first step towards getting rid of the RPI as a whole and/or coming up with a better ranking system to analyze teams.  This is a positive step towards recognizing a single number cannot be representative of the value of beating a team.  More information is always needed.

There's still a problem with the arbitrary way they've chosen the cutoffs. There's nothing special about 30, 50, or 75, or any other numbers. Still, this is better than the alternative.

Now, let's look at the actual hard numbers they're using.

Tier 1:
home games against RPI Top 30
neutral games against RPI Top 50
road games against RPI Top 75
- Changes in the tier:  subtracting home games against 31-50 and adding road games against 51-75.

I like the selection of Top 30 for home games.  With very few exceptions, every team in the top 30 is a tournament team.  So every game there represents at least some kind of value.

However, by losing 31-50, something interesting happens.  Some teams in the past, like Kansas or Duke, in order to build a strong SoS, schedule prospective conference champions from mid-major conferences.  Many of these teams wind up in the tail end of the RPI Top 50, causing the SoS of the giant to be inflated higher than it should be, and causing their W-L vs. the Top 50 to be inflated as well.  Using last year as an example, home games against UNC-Wilmington, Middle Tennessee, and Illinois St lose value.  Now with this change, home games against mid-major conference champions lose value.  Will opportunities dry up?  And how does this impact mid-major at-large bid chances, when one precious signature win chance (home game at conference leader) comes off the board?

On the flip side, with road games against 51-75 now entering this year....there are actually more mid-majors in this range.  Now the giants can play the occasional road game and add a quality win that might not have been viewed that way in the past.  Using last year as an example, road games against New Mexico St, ETSU, Charleston, and Winthrop now represent signature wins.  So you could actually see more giants playing true road games instead of home games against these types of schools.  Maybe not more than 1 in a given year, but spread across a few dozen teams, the impact could be large.

Tier 2:
home games against RPI 31-75
neutral games against RPI 51-100
road games against RPI 76-135
- Changes in the tier:  subtracting home games against 76-100 and adding road games against 101-135.

One impact of swelling to 351 D1 teams is that you have more teams with winning records occupying RPI 101-150.  Now some of these road games represent solid wins in this structure.  This is an improvement.  If you look, this range has a fairly balanced mix of middling majors and quality mid-majors.  I don't see an advantage gained for either faction here.  The major teams will add a couple of road games to the quality win ledger; the mid-major should also add a few such road games, but now will lose home games against RPI 76-100 in this category.

One conference that might get hurt specifically is the A-10.  They've been very proficient at having a few teams in the RPI 75-125 range traditionally, usually leading to solid W-L records against the Top 100 that get them higher seeds (and more bids).  With only Top 75 home wins now counting, they might get hurt a bit.

You'll also see much more attention paid to unbalanced scheduling.  Most conferences will have 4 teams, give or take a team, ranked in between RPI 75-125.  In most conferences with 14 teams, it's probably a given team would only play one of those four teams twice.  In those 5 total games....if 4 are road games, that's 4 Tier 2 games and 1 Tier 3 game.  If 4 are home games...that's 1 Tier 2 game and 4 Tier 3 games, and a big resume hit (in terms of chances at quality wins, and strength of schedule).  In the latter case, the team might be criticized for a soft SoS when it was simply the luck of the draw.

One big challenge for each conference is finding a strategy for unbalanced schedules.  And more importantly, making sure every team has a solid mix of road games and home games.  An imbalance of road/home games and good/bad opponents will cause a team to skew more than normal in the bubble discussion.

Tier 3:
home games against RPI 76-160
neutral games against RPI 101-200
road games against RPI 136-240
- Changes in the tier:  subtracting home games against 161-200 and adding road games against 201-240.

If a bubble team is a tournament team, they really should handle games against RPI 161-200.  No issue moving those wins down a level.

Usually a bubble team will have a loss or two or maybe even three in this category in the past.  Stuff happens.  But losses in Tier 4 are usually devastating.  Some of those Tier 4 road losses now move up a level, to this tier.  I like it.  I almost want to put every road game in this tier, but I do suppose you should leave some for Tier 4.  This will help a team like Monmouth cope with conference play dragging them down just a little bit.

Tier 4:
everything else

Losses to sub-240 teams, even on the road, are pretty unforgivable...maybe a team can still afford one.  The big thing is home losses to sub-160 teams now slip into this category.  Note that for power conferences, only the truly bad teams slip to sub-160, so I don't think the big boys will be hurt by this.  In fact, I think they're helped in that road conference losses in the top conference will almost never slip into this category.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

End of the season



End 'o the season.  I'm out of things to say, so this is the final post of the '16-'17 season.  We'll try and get some offseason posts up, some big-picture thoughts, but that won't be for a few months probably.  So go home, we're all done here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

FINAL S-CURVE

The 1 line:  Villanova (31-3), Kansas (28-4), Gonzaga (32-1), Duke (27-8)
The 2 line:  Arizona (30-4), North Carolina (26-7), Kentucky (29-5), Baylor (24-7)
The 3 line:  Oregon (28-5), Louisville (24-8), UCLA (29-4), Butler (23-8)
The 4 line:  Florida St (25-8), Florida (24-8), West Virginia (26-8), Notre Dame (25-9)
The 5 line:  Iowa St (23-10), Purdue (25-7), Virginia (22-10), SMU (29-4)
The 6 line:  Cincinnati (29-5), Minnesota (24-8), Creighton (25-8), Michigan (24-11)
The 7 line:  Wisconsin (25-9), Maryland (23-8), Miami (21-11), Northwestern (23-11)
The 8 line:  St Mary's (28-4), Virginia Tech (22-10), Wichita St (29-4), Seton Hall (21-11)
The 9 line:  Arkansas (25-9), VCU (26-8), Dayton (23-7), Rhode Island (24-9)
The 10 line:  Marquette (19-12), Middle Tennessee (28-4), Providence (20-12), Oklahoma St (19-12)
The 11 line:  South Carolina (22-10), Michigan St (19-14), Xavier (21-13), Kansas St (20-13), Vanderbilt (19-15)
The 12 line:  Wake Forest (19-13), USC (24-9), Nevada (28-6), UNC-Wilmington (27-5), Princeton (22-6)
The 13 line:  Vermont (28-5), New Mexico St (25-5), East Tennessee St (25-7), Bucknell (26-8)
The 14 line:  Winthrop (24-6), Iona (22-12), FGCU (23-7), Northern Kentucky (22-10)
The 15 line:  Texas Southern (23-11), Kent St (21-13), Troy (20-14), North Dakota (19-9)
The 16 line:  South Dakota St (16-16), Jacksonville St (18-14), New Orleans (17-11), Mount St Mary's (19-15), UC-Davis (20-12), North Carolina Central (22-8)

Bubble:

Last 3 in:
Vanderbilt
Wake Forest
USC

Last 3 out:
Syracuse
Illinois St
Illinois



*administrative note:  Marking the date of this post as April 1 in order to pseudo-pin this entry to the top of the blog.  If you're paranoid, this S-Curve was also emailed in to the Matrix.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The disaster that is South Carolina

I think this may need an explanation.

I think everyone can agree, give or take a Wichita State, that South Carolina got the most flagrant seed from the selection committee.  I had them on the 11 line.  Bracket Matrix on the 9 line.  Very few gave them a 7 seed.  They were the most mis-seeded team in the tournament, period.

So don't get trapped by their run!  Their Final Four run does NOT mean that their 7 seed was justified.  Don't fall for that trap.

The real disaster of the situation is, though, that the committee has been rewarded for their bad seed.  They gave a middling power conference team a much higher seed than they deserved, and they got validated.  This just means that in the future, the committee is much more likely to give more middling power conference teams better seeds, instead of mid-majors.

Notice what happened to Middle Tennessee.  Selection committee said they probably would've been an at-large team if they needed it...but got seeded as a 12, below all at-large teams.  Clearly there's a disconnect between selection and seeding that needs to be bridged.  But if all these teams seeded 7th, 8th, and 9th keep winning multiple games or coming close (see S Carolina > Duke, Wisky > Nova, and the Arkansas/UNC close call, for example), there's going to be no motivation for the selection committee to move mid-majors up into those seeds.

So this is what I'm worried about.  The selection committee is going to use South Carolina as validation to keep over-seeding major conference teams and to bury mid-majors.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Conference analysis

This is late, but I always like to look conference-by-conference, and see if there are any outliers or anything unusual to point out.

America East:
1 NCAA
1 CBI/2 CIT
Not a bad year for the conference given Vermont trucked everyone.  I'm guessing New Hampshire declined a postseason bid, everyone else eligible went.

ACC:
9 NCAA
3 NIT
All the talk was 10 or 11 bids going in, and the ACC kind of hit the floor of 9 instead.  It just proved that there wasn't quite enough wins to go around.  It's tough to push 6-12 conference teams into the NCAAs.  In the end, Pitt, NC State, and Clemson took just a couple too many wins away from the pool.  Everyone over .500 at least got into the NIT.

AAC:
2 NCAA
2 NIT
The long-term trend isn't good for the conference.  The top 2 were obviously good, but the middle of this conference hurt the cause.  Houston was 12-6 in 3rd place, and couldn't mount a serious charge to the bubble.  The key?  Memphis and UConn, at 9-9, were also sub-100 in the RPI.  Those two, Temple, and Tulsa were all in between 100-150 when their goal should be 75-100.  This is something they'll need to work on.  Those 4 teams need to be on most years.  I am willing to chalk some of it up to variance, though.

A-10:
3 NCAA
1 NIT
2 CBI
Probably an average year for the A-10, given their champ was only on the 7 line and URI just squeaked in.  5 teams below them ranked between 73 and 122 in the RPI, which is the secret sauce to their success.  Interesting that some teams eligible for EIEIO tournaments sat, but GW and Mason played.

A-Sun:
1 NCAA
2 CIT
FGCU with the double crown here...interesting that Lipscomb apparently turned down the postseason...and two teams (USC Upstate, Jax) got in the CIT with pretty damn awful resumes.  Either the CIT has a A-Sun fetish or they're struggling.

Big 10:
7 NCAA
3 NIT
The distribution of bids is about on par for the conference.  Their seeds weren't.  I'm surprised though.  It's tough to get 7 bids out of a conference when there isn't a high-end team distributing quality wins to the other teams.  I don't know how to describe it.  Everyone did just enough in the non-con to survive.

Big 12:
6 NCAA
1 NIT
I'd say this is on par with the conference's expectations.  TTU isn't making the NIT, let alone the NCAA, with their scheduling practices.

Big East:
7 NCAA
They overachieved a bit, squeaking out 7 bids.  They kind of had a perfect distribution of wins between teams 2-7, with conference records of 12-6, 4 10-8s and a 9-9.  That's pretty lucky.

Big Sky:
1 NCAA
1 CBI/2 CIT
The 2nd-4th place teams took postseason bids.  Another example conference that likes to be fed by the EIEIOs.

Big South:
1 NCAA
3 CIT
Pretty standard for the Big South.  The other 2 teams that broke away in the conference standings took their CIT bids...as well as a 7-11 Campbell, for some unholy reason.

Big West:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
1 CIT
A disaster year for the conference.  3rd place team barely got CIT eligible.

Colonial:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
A couple strong RPI years for the conference now.  Sadly, it didn't pay off in a better seed for UNCW.  All I can say is to keep plugging along.  Charleston actually got an at-large bid for the NIT, which is a good sign for the future of this conference.  This is trending upwards.  Also interesting:  everyone else turned down the CBI/CIT.  If those tourneys can't pull upper-majors like CAA teams, something's wrong with them.

CUSA
1 NCAA
1 CBI
Considering how far off this conference is, it's kind of amazing Middle Tennessee almost built an at-large profile.  Here's a conference that's shunning the CBI/CIT types, with Rice being the one team that decided to play.  There's a couple teams that deserved some kind of postseason, that obviously passed.

Horizon:
1 NCAA
2 NIT
2 CBI
Pretty interesting...at-large NIT bid for Valpo.  Profile was just good enough, but didn't think the committee would pull the trigger.  Good for them.  Wright St probably turned down the postseason, which is the only way to explain the fraudulent CBI bid that UIC got.

Ivy:
1 NCAA
The conference was secretly really blah behind Princeton.

MAAC:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
3 CIT
Down a bit this year.  Poor, poor Monmouth.  Assuming Siena declined the postseason, a pretty fair distribution of postseason teams for the conference.

MAC:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
1 CBI/1 CIT
They have the resources to do better.  I wonder how long this will go before Akron starts to get fed up, because they're always the one on fringe at-large candidacy and can't get close enough.

MEAC:
1 NCAA
1 CBI/1 CIT
And frankly they got more postseason teams than they deserved.

MVC:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
Just a catastrophic year.  Everyone 3rd on back sat out postseason, presumably as penance for their crimes against WSU and ISU.  My advice in the future:  don't suck.

Mountain West:
1 NCAA
2 NIT
1 CBI
The thing is, I don't think the conference is THAT far away from where it needs to be.  After Nevada, they had 5 teams in between RPI 69 and 98.  This tells me incremental steps forward from those programs will rectify their single-bid status quickly.  They schedule mostly okay, they just need a few swing games.  Obviously they need to be better but I don't see a big philosophical shift needed to fix that.  Interesting that Wyoming in 7th took a CBI bid while 4th-6th in the standings decided not to play (assuming).

NEC:
1 NCAA
1 CIT
Seems fair.

OVC
1 NCAA
1 NIT
1 CIT
The conference was a bit down, and frankly I'm not sure how many more postseason teams they deserve.

Pac-12:
4 NCAA
3 NIT
Kind of a disaster the conference just snuck a 4th team in, when their top 3 was this good.  As it turns out...everyone else was terrible.  No other way to paint it.  It's a pretty clear problem with a pretty clear solution for them.  There's nothing in their scheduling practices I think they need to change.  Just play better.

Patriot:
1 NCAA
1 CBI
I'm guessing some teams turned down the CBI and CIT because the 6th place team here got the CBI bid.  Secret thing about these recaps:  you can see which conferences are shunning these tournaments.

SEC:
5 NCAA
3 NIT
A big year for the SEC, bigger than you think.  Remember they are in the middle of making great efforts to improve scheduling.  This year, those schedule benefits were reaped.  Vandy obviously got in on the strength of theirs, and the conference schedule didn't sink their overall SoS like it would have in years past.  Further, marginal resumes for Arkansas and S Carolina were enhanced by the SoS numbers.  Look at the RPIs of teams that missed:  UGa 53, A&M 93, Auburn 106, Ole Miss 68, Tenn 79.  In years future, those 5 bids will turn into 6 and 7 with those numbers.  Keep it up!  Good job!  I honestly mean that.

SoCon:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
2 CIT
An okay year for them.  All 3 tri-champs got a postseason bid, so all is just.  I'm guessing Chattanooga declined a bid...and why did 8-10 Samford get a CIT invite?

Southland:
1 NCAA
4 CIT
Here's a case where it looks like just about all eligible teams, and basically the top 5 teams in the league, took their CIT bid and went.  Always interesting to compare the conferences who walk away en masse and the ones to take them en masse.

Summit:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
1 CIT
Down a bit from their highs of the past couple years.  Not much else to say here.

Sun Belt:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
2 CBI/2 CIT
A good season overall, but that merely earned them the distinction of "best of the rest".  Best conference not to produce a serious NIT at-large candidate.  As you can see, several teams (interestingly, not Arky State though) cashed in for token postseason appearances...which they all deserved, more or less.  Good for them.

SWAC:
1 NCAA
lol

WAC:
1 NCAA
1 NIT
2 CBI
A big surge up the RPI for this conference thanks to the top 2 teams, but they didn't pay it off into anything tangible.  Those 2 CBI bids are pretty damn fraudulent.  Grand Canyon interestingly didn't play this year.

WCC:
2 NCAA
1 NIT
1 CBI
This is a pretty standard distribution for this conference.  The middle-to-bottom of this conference just isn't strong enough to support better.  All postseason bids and non-bids were just, IMO.