Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Story about Bulldogs

On my last seed list, a reader made a comment asking why Butler had dropped three lines. When making a new seed list, I don't look at the old one until after I am finished the new (and sometimes, not even then). While this causes inconsistencies in logic, it also allows me to see if I would apply the same logic a second time through. But, it is odd that Butler dropped so many lines - so I took a look. Here's why Butler dropped.
So, its obvious that to drop as far as they did, I had to have 9 teams pass Butler. 9! Actually, Butler passed a couple of teams, namely North Carolina and UConn. I could talk about those, but that would take another whole post. So, actually, there are 11 teams. Those teams that passed Butler were: Richmond, Charlotte, Dayton, Rhode Island, Xavier, Texas A&M, Oklahoma St, Cornell, Northern Iowa, Virginia Tech, Marquette.
The first thing that should stand out to you is the rising Atlantic 10. 5 of the 11 teams are from the Atlantic 10. Obviously something changed in my line of thinking. Thankfully, I remember what this is. Between the 1st and 2nd seed list, two A-10 teams (Charlotte and Richmond, I think) moved from the 50-100 range to the 1-50 range. This means that each NCAA candidate A-10 team now shows up with 1-3 extra top 50 wins. This is why all the A-10 teams got pushed up. At this point, you may be angry that such a change makes a difference. You have to remember that team RPIs now don’t matter – what they will be at the end of the year does.
Before you argue more about that point, take a look at this: http://www.bbstate.com/schools/TEX/sheet. This is a replica of the team sheet that the NCAA selection committee will see come March (with data as of today, obviously). What do you notice? (Exercise: Actually consider this for a second before proceeding) The thing that jumps out at me is the grid of records. To make any sense of that grid, you have to narrow your focus, and my logic tells me to look at the columns for 1-50 and 50-100. The priority of course goes to the first column, since it is primarily those teams that will appear in the NCAA tournament.
Let’s take a quick look at Butler. Let’s assume they win out (which I think will happen). They should then have three wins in the top 50 – Ohio State, Xavier, and Siena. Siena is getting the benefit of good scheduling, and is not (IMO) actually good. That’s what my friend, who is a huge Saints homer, tells me. When the committee is actually scrutinizing teams, I think that they will discount that win a little. However, it will still count for something. When they look at the Ohio State win, chances are good that someone (hint: the Ohio State AD) will bring up the Evan Turner injury. So that win will be discounted a little. And, while Xavier is a solid tourney team (says he who had them as “last in” a week ago), they aren’t a protected seed. So keep this in mind: Butler’s lone “excellent” win has an asterisk, and besides that they will only have two “good” wins. I believe they will end the season 26-4, (18-0) in conference, 3-3 against the top 50, 3-1 against the top 100, with a great road/neutral record.
Anyhow, 6 left to explain. Let’s go to Cornell and Northern Iowa, the cases with lots of wins, but less substance than Butler. Northern Iowa is a case of me deciding “You know what? You were dumb in your first seed list. UNI is probably going to go 17-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference – a decently tough conference. Moreover, they’ll end the season 27-2. I don’t care about the “2”, but wowwie! 27 is a big number!” (If you can’t tell, I’m mocking the way I think the committee thinks) So I gave UNI a bump. (And, truth be told, 17-1 in the MVC is better than 18-0 in the Horizon). Cornell… I don’t know about them. They’re going to go 14-0 in the Ivy League. But they have no good wins, just the “good loss” against Kansas. However, that Kansas game did show that they could potentially beat a #1 seed – something the committee likes out of their 9-13 lines. It makes the tourney more interesting. And on that strength, the sportswriters have voted them into the top 25. If the sportswriters see it some way, chances are good the committee will see it similarly. I actually don’t like Cornell up where they are, but I could see it happening.
Virginia Tech and Marquette: Teams I am giving too much credit because of high Pomeroy rankings, despite being wildly inconsistent. Or am I? Marquette fits the role of Boston College last year, (bad losses + a few top wins), and they’ve already stolen a few against good opponents. But I notably bumped them up 4 seed lines in a WEEK. THAT is more shocking than dropping Butler. Wait… they did win a road game against UConn, which increased my faith in their ability to win big games. Thus, I think they take down both Pitt and Louisville, increasing their top 50 wins to 5. Marquette is a case that I’m willing to accept. However, I am certainly giving VT too much credit, operating under the delusion that they can win all three of Wake Forest, Clemson, and Maryland. Its possible, but not likely. What changed in the last week? They added a surprise conference win (at Virginia), which made me believe they could get to 9-7. Count VT in my “idiot” column (and watch them go on to win all three of those games, just to spite me). However, be sure that when predicting the rest of the games in the year for the next seed list I will pay more attention to consistency of a team.

Two left, and they are both are Big 12. Hmm… Okie State sure didn’t do anything to make their resume better – that Kansas St. win was already there. I think I convinced myself this week that winning at Kansas State made up for their other ills, something I didn’t do the first week. Now, I prefer the way I saw it the first time. Another idiot move. Texas A&M… prior to last night, they were and idiot move. However, their surprise win over Missouri puts them at that 5 top 50 win mark. Just an observation – teams with 1-3 wins over the top 50 rpi are bubblicious. Once they hit 4, its very rare for them to miss. 5? Forgetaboutit.

So there you go - 7 good reasons to change my mind on a team, 2 debatable but acceptable reasons, and 2 idiot reasons. Hopefully by the time the tourney rolls around, there will be fewer of the "idiot" reasonings. However, after reflecting a bit, I think that Butler will probably end up as a 9.

1 comment:

hoosierdaddy1020 said...

While I still disagree that butler is an 11 at this point (or in the future), you definitely stated your case and that was all I was asking for, so thank you for that! I think a high RPI plus decent SOS plus all losses are neutral/road loses will look favorably in the committees eyes. These and many other points can argued back and forth all day long, so I would just like to say thank you address the question!