Saturday, March 14, 2009

D-1 BP65

Sorry for the slight delay on this... I know that I usually have this up before everybody wakes up in the morning. There will, of course, be one more of these, on Selection Sunday. The final BP65 with come out right around 5:30pm eastern time on Sunday. I'll try to hold out long enough to know the results of the final conference tournament championship games, but I'll have it safely posted about a half hour before the Selection Shows come on.

1. Pittsburgh

2. UConn
2. Duke
2. Oklahoma

3. Kansas
3. Villanova
3. Wake Forest

4. Florida State
4. Syracuse
4. Illinois

5. LSU (SEC)
5. Washington
5. West Virginia

6. Purdue
6. Texas

7. Clemson
7. Xavier
7. Tennessee
7. Marquette

8. Ohio State
8. Oklahoma State
8. Butler
8. California

9. BYU
9. Minnesota
9. Texas A&M
9. Wisconsin

10. Dayton
10. Michigan
10. San Diego State

11. Boston College
11. Florida
11. Penn State

12. Saint Mary's





Other teams considered, but that missed the cut:
Maryland, Creighton, New Mexico, Arizona, USC, South Carolina

Decent resumes, but not good enough:
Tulsa, Illinois State, UNLV, Auburn

Long shots, but still in the at-large discussion:
Virginia Tech, Providence, Northwestern, Kansas State, UAB, Niagara, Davidson

Still alive, but pretty much need a miracle:
Miami (Fl), Rhode Island, George Mason, Kentucky, Mississippi State


DMoore said...

Can you explain why you are putting Florida in the bracket over Maryland? I'll use Pomeroy numbers to make my case because they're convenient. Both of them have a single bad loss, and Maryland's will likely be to an NCAA team (Maryland to Morgan State=139, Florida to Georgia=204). Maryland is 5-9 against the Top 50 and 3-5 against the Top 25, and Florida is 2-5 against the Top 50 and 1-1 against the Top 25. Maryland has simply played a MUCH tougher schedule than Florida -- Maryland played against 3 Top 200 teams and 2 Top 300 teams, while Florida has played 7 Top 200 teams and 4 Top 300 teams. Finally, doesn't the eyeball test show you Maryland is simply a much better team than Florida?

Jeff said...

Well, first of all I will tell you that Maryland was my first team out of the bracket, and they'll be clearly into the Tournament if they beat Duke. So right now I'm rating Florida and Maryland pretty much equally. But I'll give you a couple of reasons why I have Florida ahead:

You are right that Maryland has played a tougher schedule, but the numbers really aren't that drastic. Yes, Florida has played a lot of RPI 200+ teams, but I'm not going to penalize them for that. If Maryland loses to Duke (the assumption that I'm making here) they'll end up 8-11 against the RPI Top 100, compared to 8-9 for Florida. They're also 5-2 against the RPI 101-200, compared to 6-1 for Florida. Maryland does have a much better record against the RPI Top 50 (4-8 with a loss to Duke, compared to 1-5 for Florida), but my point is that the numbers aren't too different.

So, while Maryland has more big wins, they also had more opportunities. Florida didn't have any chances to play a team like North Carolina in conference. Out of conference they played three top teams (Washington, Syracuse and Florida), none of them at home. And they won one, and lost the other two by a combined eight points.

And I don't think the eye test is as clear as you put it. Maryland has the best single player, but it's hard to deal with the fact that they have zero inside players. I would argue the Florida is deeper and more talented, and that they are more capable of playing different styles of basketball.

In the end, I concluded that the Maryland and Florida resumes were nearly identical, and the eye tests were nearly identical, and so I ended up making my decision based on my belief that the Selection Committee has a bias. Florida is fourth in the SEC pecking order (although Auburn can potentially move ahead), and if you're arguing against Florida right now then you're arguing that the SEC is only going to get three teams. And as much as the Selection Committee is not supposed to care about stuff like that, there's no way that southern members on the Committee are going to find that just. So I think Florida gets in because of bias. That can obviously change if Auburn beats LSU, but right now I'm projecting that they lose.

Of course, if Maryland beats Duke then all of this is a moot point.

SFC said...


If this was posted after the UCLA loss, how do you have them above Washington?

Jeff said...

You know, DMoore, I don't know what I was thinking I was typing that last paragraph before. Clearly what I meant to say is that I think Florida is third in the SEC pecking order, and that if they get left out then the Selection Committee will likely only be taking two SEC teams.

This really is all about human bias. The Selection Committee will get a lot of grief from SEC fans if they only take two teams, so they're going to want to put in a third. But that third might be Mississippi State, and it might be Auburn. We'll see how the rest of the SEC tournament plays out.

Jeff said...

SFC, it is a combination of two things: the full body of the resume, and the "eye test." Washington and UCLA have pretty much identical records, and Washington's better strength of schedule is pretty deceptive. They played tougher teams, but they lost to all of them but Oklahoma State. UCLA's RPI is deflated by the fact that many of the teams they played ended up with far worse RPIs than anybody figured when those games were played (Southern Illinois, Texas, DePaul, Miami of Ohio, et cetera). The Selection Committee will recognize that UCLA put together what they thought was a tough schedule, and it just didn't pan out.

So while the RPI gives Washington the clear lead, Sagarin actually gives the narrow lead to UCLA. And this is where the eye test comes in: UCLA just looks like the better team.

I do think that the teams have nearly identical resumes. And when you consider the bad performances by LSU and Illinois today, I now have only one team between UCLA and Washington (Gonzaga). So there is a high possibility of both teams getting the same seed.

DMoore said...

I see your point about Florida, although I was already wondering if Auburn had pulled ahead of them in search of a third bid from the SEC.

I'm just having trouble seeing Maryland get left out in comparison to teams like Florida and Penn State. The records are very similar, except that Maryland has played a much tougher schedule than the other bubble teams. They have the marquee wins, and their one bad loss just doesn't look terribly bad any more. Although no one has heard of Morgan State, they are a conference champion. They're far better than some of the bottom feeders in the SEC or Big Ten. They're equivalent to an Arkansas, St. Johns or South Florida, and far better than an Indiana, Rutgers, Georgia or Depaul.

Jeff said...

Well you are right that Morgan State is about equal to a team like Georgia (who Florida lost to), Mercer (who Auburn lost to) or Iowa (who Penn State lost to).. but I won't go so far as to argue that they're "far better" than big conference bottom feeders. Besides, the Selection Committee isn't going to put one team in because they lost to a team with an RPI of 140, and the team they were being compared against lost to a team with an RPI of 160. That just isn't going to make the difference.

Remember, if you just want to go on the numbers, then take the complete computer rankings, that take into account not just the strength of schedule, but also the strength of victory. If we take the four teams you have zoomed in on, the RPI ranks them: Florida, Maryland, Auburn, Penn State. Sagarin ranks them: Maryland, Florida, Penn State, Auburn. If you zoom in on just the Sagarin ELO_CHESS (since the Selection Committee is supposed to just be judging wins and losses anyway) the list flips to: Penn State, Maryland, Florida, Auburn. And if you go to Pomeroy you end up with: Florida, Auburn, Maryland, Penn State.

So of the four ways I just ranked the teams, Maryland gets a first, a second and two thirds. Florida gets two firsts, a second and a third. Auburn seems to be last, with a second, a third, and two fourths.

I mean, we can torture these numbers to death. I'm not saying that Florida is necessarily in. I'm believing more and more that the Committee is going to put Saint Mary's in because of the Patty Mills injury, and with the USC win that might just knock BOTH Florida and Maryland out.

I'll crunch the numbers some more tomorrow and see what I get. I think it's clear that the Bubble is down to the final five or six teams. I'll try to put all of this together in a post sometime tomorrow.

SFC said...

Since Washington and UCLA have virtual identical resumes I think the way to best differentiate between the teams would be to first, compare head-to-head records, and second, compare records against common opponents (conference records). For head-to-head, the teams split. For conference, Washington was one better. That one extra conference win is the difference between Washington and UCLA.

If you asked a committee member who they thought was better "UCLA or Washington?" I believe most would say UCLA. But I think that has more to do with the name on the jersey than the content of the resume. When the committee blindly compares Washington's and UCLA's resume, with the only substantial difference being that extra conference win, Washington will get a higher seed (or a higher positioning on the S-Curve.)

Jeff said...

SFC, you're welcome to argue that, and you might be right, but there are certainly reason to think that UCLA is just the better team. The Sagarin ratings have always been my favorite (and probably the most accepted) computer ratings, and they put UCLA higher. They don't care what name is on the uniform.

Statistically, saying that Washington is the better team because UCLA lost a 1 point heart breaker to Wazzu and ended up one game back isn't really an argument that is going to sway the Committee.

And besides, as I said, I don't think it really matters. There is a high probability that both teams will get identical seeds.

And honestly, I'm worried more about trying to get the field of 65 right. Because I don't worry about fitting teams into individual geographical locations, I only worry about getting teams accurate within one line (since the Selection Committee can move teams up to one line up or down for geographical or conference reasons). If I miss Washington's seed by one line I'm not going to have a sleepless night about it.