Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Strength of schedule thoughts

Ok, time to deal with the criteria the NCAA selection committee has used this year.

In past years, one key phrase has been "non-conference SoS".  This year, I noticed an absence of talking about that.  Yes, SoS was very important, but the overall SoS was important.  Not just the non-con part of it.  Of course, the non-con part is the one part a team can control.  Those who were born into the royal family of conferences (I'm looking at you, Texas) obviously fares better when you ignore non-conference SoS and go straight to the regular SoS.

I'm not sure this is a good idea by the committee.  Overweighting regular SoS compared to non-con SoS is a mistake.  To illustrate why, let's take a look at the numbers.  Here are the SoS numbers for the last 6 teams in and the first 4 out:

Texas 16
BYU 74
Ole Miss 53
Dayton 93
Boise St 117
Temple 60
Colorado St 112
Old Dominion 146
Richmond 47

So it seems obvious why Texas and UCLA moved on up.  We see why Ole Miss was in, why ODU was out, and why Richmond was closer than anyone thought.

However, let's take a look at just the non-conference SoS of these 10 teams:

Texas 85
BYU 26
Ole Miss 95
Dayton 139
Boise St 164
Temple 41
Colorado St 83
Old Dominion 40
Richmond 33

3 teams with top 50 non-con SoSs were left out, in favor of teams with 95, 139, and 164.  Hmm.  That doesn't sit well.  UCLA with (barely) a top 50 SoS in the non-con...okay, fair.  Texas, however, is a bit further down, trailing all 4 of the "last four out" teams in this metric.  And Dayton and Boise lag way, way behind.

Look at Old Dominion in particular.  Overall SoS of 146, unimpressive.  But non-con of 40.  CUSA dragged them down 100 spots, and then those 100 spots were used to help justify their exclusion compared to other teams.  Dayton's overall SoS of 93 doesn't stand out among the bubble candidates, but when you realize the boost the A-10 gave them, they stand out a bit more as an outlier, in the bad direction.

As for the Boise St/Colorado St comparison...overall SoS of 117 vs. 112.  No real difference.  But CSU has the better non-con SoS, 83 against 164, which is a significant margin.  Hmm.

So, after a couple years of emphasizing non-con SoS as an integral part of the profile, the committee has backed off it, and gone to just overall SoS.  This clearly benefits the big boys, in this case UCLA, Texas, Ole Miss, and Dayton, all who gained significant ground on their SoS in conference play.  Teams in weaker conferences (ODU, Temple to a lesser extent) get killed by this.

I'm not sure I like this new trend from the committee.  Here's to hoping they care more about non-con SoS in the future.


jose garcia said...

the reason why teams like texas out of conference schedule looks weak is because they are helping out teams who want to schedule strong out of conference opponents. Each team should have to play a variety of good and bad opponents in a non-conference schedule. For instance a team like Temple, they should be playing stony brook, Kansas, Vermont, Oklahoma, different teams so every team has the same out of conference strength of schedule

Andrew said...

I think teams are a lot more selfish in scheduling. Texas really doesn't care if they're helping others out, as long as they help themselves (and really, this year, their non-con SoS wasn't that bad). I want to see more balance in scheduling, but we have to address the issues of television and revenue from home games first. Without that, we're kind of stuck and have to rely on non-con SoS as an important metric.