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.

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