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:


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.