Thursday, March 05, 2009

W-1.5 BP65

The next BP65 will be out after Saturday night's games:


2. UConn
2. Louisville
2. Duke

3. Kansas
3. Missouri
3. Villanova
3. Wake Forest

4. Florida State
4. LSU (SEC)
4. UCLA (PAC-10)
4. Marquette

5. Washington
5. Illinois
5. Clemson

6. West Virginia
6. Purdue

7. Arizona State
7. Texas
7. California
7. Syracuse

8. Tennessee
8. BYU
8. Wisconsin

9. South Carolina
9. Minnesota
9. Oklahoma State
9. Boston College

10. Dayton
10. Arizona
10. Ohio State
10. Texas A&M

11. Florida
11. UNLV
11. Maryland
11. Miami (Fl)

12. Saint Mary's

13. MIAMI (OH) (MAC)




Other teams considered, but that missed the cut:
Rhode Island, Providence, Michigan, Penn State, Kentucky

Decent resumes, but not good enough:
Virginia Tech, Temple, Cincinnati, Kansas State, UAB, New Mexico, San Diego State, Auburn

Long shots, but still in the at-large discussion:
NC State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Nebraska, George Mason, Tulsa, Niagara, Illinois State, USC, Washington State, Vanderbilt

Still alive, but pretty much need a miracle:
Duquesne, Georgetown, Baylor, Northeastern, Houston, UTEP, Wisconsin-GB, Northern Iowa, Mississippi, Mississippi State


Anonymous said...

Are your teams sorted in order in the first out? (i.e. is Rhode Island #66 now?)

What would it take to get URI in now with the bubble weakening? Obviously we have to beat UMass and then win to the semis. If we lose a close one to Dayton in the semis is URI in, or is a trip to the finals a must? RPI is up to 52, Sagarin still outside the top 50, but up to 58 from the 70s over the past week.

Jeff said...

No, Rhode Island is not #66. I explain the ordering in "About the BP65", which is linked under "Important BP65 links". Teams are actually ranked alphabetically, first by conference and then within the conference. So Rhode Island is first in their group because "Atlantic Ten" comes before "Big East." And then Michigan is ranked ahead of Penn State because within the Big Ten, "M" comes before "P".

I do it that way because it would be incredibly tedious to carefully rate the 100 teams I have out of the bracket back in late January. And I don't really care right now whether Georgetown's chances are better than Mississippi State's chances - both of those teams need a miracle either way. This is why I separate the teams into four different groups. So Rhode Island is clearly ahead of all of the teams in "Decent resumes". If I had to pick one "first team out", it would probably be Michigan. But I would put Rhode Island ahead of Kentucky for sure.

But don't worry, you're not the first person to ask that question. I've had people actually angry that their team was listed after another team, and I had to explain that their team just comes from a conference whose first letter is further down in the alphabet...

Now I do agree that obviously Rhode Island has to beat UMass and then make the semis, but after that I can't be certain. I can tell you two things, though:

1) The bubble does seem weak now, but that can change quickly. You never know how things will play out during conference tournaments. You definitely are now going to have to become the world's biggest Gonzaga, Davidson, Siena and Utah State fan. And you'd better hope no team like Georgia steals a BCS auto bid. You also have to root against a team like Kansas State getting hot and making the Big 12 finals. Every year it seems like a couple of teams from the BCS conferences seem dead and then make a run to their conference tournament semis and finals and earn their way into the bracket.

2) Keep an eye on their Sagarin rating. It holds a lot of sway in the Selection Committee (more than any other computer rating, especially the RPI). Right now they're 58th, and they've got to get inside the Top 50. I can't recall any team earning an at-large with a Sagarin outside the Top 50 (although I have seen teams earn an at-large with an RPI outside the Top 50).

I'll definitely post updates as the A-10 tournament gets going to let you know what I think. And I'll have a new bracket out after Saturday night's games, and then three brackets next week.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the hard work, but have two small caveats. First, Washington and UCLA should be switched. I'm guessing that you have UCLA as the Pac-10 conference champ/leader (as they are in bold), but Washington is in fact that team. Second, I would not have Oklahoma as a 1 because they lost a couple recent games, I think UConn should be there (consensus number 1 team in the country). Keep up the good work.

Jeff said...

I'll go through those one by one:

1) I'm well aware that Washington is winning the Pac-10, and has already clinched a share of the title. But the teams in capital letters with the conference name in parentheses are the projected conference TOURNAMENT champions. Think about the 16 seeds and the 15 seeds... it doesn't matter to the Selection Committee who wins the regular season crown. I'm still projecting UCLA as the tournament champion because they are better at their best than Washington is. Their problem has been lack of intensity and urgency, and I think they'll get their act together now that the games start to really matter.

2) As for Oklahoma, I'm giving them the 1 seed because I still see them winning the conference tournament. They are still getting used to having all of their players in the lineup together, and I don't see any reason why they won't soon be playing like they were before the Griffin injury, when they were clearly the best team in the Big 12.

3) UConn may be the "consensus number 1 team" (actually they're not, as both UNC and Memphis have votes in the two major human polls), but regular readers know that polls are meaningless. I encourage you to read some of my posts on polling listed on the right side of the main page under "BP Classics". Regardless, UConn should lose this weekend to Pitt, and I expect them to make it no further than the semifinals in the Big East tournament. That's why I have them where I do.

Anonymous said...

Does Xavier over Dayton yesterday help URI or hurt? URI now gets sole possession of #2 in A-10, but the Rams' top win gets diminished a bit. Is the committee going to care that we got 2nd place solely, or are they more going to care that our RPI got hit because our best win is worth less? I see our RPI is up to 48 tonight, but you keep telling me RPI isn't all that important anyway despite what ESPN says.

At least South Carolina went down. Every fellow bubble team loss has got to help.

Jeff said...

Yeah, well I wouldn't really trust anything you hear on ESPN. I was watching the Illinois/Penn State game last night and they head into halftime and John Saunders goes into the highlights of the Stanford/ASU game, and calls a highlight (I'm paraphrasing, but I'm sure I'm pretty close to the exact words): "Look at this great move here by James Harden... wow, what a player he is... that's a great move there"... all for a highlight involving a Stanford player. I'll be willing to give somebody a mulligan for confusing the uniforms of Stanford and ASU, since they're just different shades of red (even though somebody doing college basketball analysis for ESPN should know whether home or road teams wear their whites). But the guy looked nothing at all like James Harden. If your studio anchor can't pick a soon-to-be First Team All-American out of a crowd, you've got a problem.

As for Dayton losing, the Selection Committee really isn't going to care about you being in sole possession of second place, or tied for second place. They will take note of extreme standings positions (such as if you won the regular season title, or finished in 7th), but otherwise they care more about your conference record and who you beat. Remember, the A-10 has a very unbalanced schedule (only the Big East is worse), so the standings always have to be taken with a grain of salt.

But as you said, that South Carolina loss helps you. All bubble team losses help you. And Rhode Island's Sagarin rating is up to 55th, which is getting close. Also, their ELO_CHESS is up to 48th, which is a sign that their resume is pretty strong. This is somewhat backwards from what I usually talk about, where I tell you how the PREDICTOR is the better judge of how teams will play the rest of their season and how they'll play in the Tournament. But for the Selection Committee, they don't care how good a team is - they care what your resume is. And the ELO_CHESS is just that, a black-and-white picture of your wins and losses.

I think Rhode Island will be in the Tournament if they make the A-10 tournament finals, no matter what (assuming, again, that they beat UMass to end the regular season... which they should). If they make the semis then it's going to depend more on the rest of the bubble than anything else. Keep rooting for Utah State and Gonzaga. Keep rooting against South Carolina. Oh, and root for Florida against Kentucky this weekend.

Anonymous said...

"I'm still projecting UCLA as the tournament champion because they are better at their best than Washington is...I think they'll get their act together now"

I really don't think teams work that way. At this point in the season, it's incredibly difficult to just turn it on. What you've seen of these teams lately is their personality, and it's very rare for that to change regardless of the importance of the game. Washington is simply a better team than UCLA, because their usual big game performance is superior to UCLA's usual big game performance.

"[R]oot for Florida against Kentucky this weekend"

Really? Does Kentucky still have a serious chance if they beat Florida, or are you just encouraging folks to root for the last nail in the coffin? I would have thought the Georgia loss was a big, BIG nail.

Jeff said...

Well, I do think there are some teams that turn it on in big games. I mean, just look at Wake Forest's season - they always play well against good teams and stink it up against bad teams. And Sagarin still rates UCLA as the best team in the Pac-10, regardless. The PREDICTOR has UCLA 6th, and the next best Pac-10 team is Washington at 15th. UCLA's problem hasn't been bad full games, it's been bad first halves. They just need to be more motivated coming out of the locker room.

And as for Kentucky, yes it's about the final nail. If they beat Florida they will be the third seed in the SEC East, which is basically a free pass to the SEC semifinals (since every team in the SEC West is terrible other than LSU). Even if they don't beat Tennessee, that still will have a great chance of putting them in the Tournament. If Kentucky loses this weekend they'll be 8-8 in the SEC and scheduled to face LSU in the SEC tournament quarterfinals. Their NIT bid will probably be sealed at that very game. Florida is most likely going to make the Tournament no matter what.

But I do see your theory of rooting for Kentucky this weekend and then hoping they flame out in the SEC tournament. It's a higher-risk, higher-reward strategy. You must be a gambler, haha.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response Jeff.

I guess I misinterpreted your bracket projection as if the tournament started today (as some other websites do).

On to the points:
1a) Admittedly I may be biased because I am a Washington Husky fan, however I do not see how Washington would be a 5 seed in the eyes of the committee under your projection. (Correct me if I'm wrong but you believe the Huskies win the rest of their games but lose to the Bruins in the title game, no?) If you are placing the emphasis on conference tournaments then it seems that the principal is not being applied to teams like Florida St., Marquette, or maybe Villanova (focus on Florida St.) who are all unlikely to advance to their conference tournament championship as Washington is. Furthermore, if UCLA wins out I would be very surprised if they did not end up with a 3 seed.

2) I am assuming now that you would drop Oklahoma from the 1 seed.

3) Don't really care about UConn, just found it odd that they were not included as a 1. Personally, I think they are pretty safe.

4) In response to your earlier post the 2003-2004 Washington Huskies made the NCAA tournament with a Sagarin ranking of 63.

5) Finally, out of curiousity I'm wondering what team you pull for?

Anonymous said...

hi jeff, i too am a bracketologist just wanted your explaination on the inclusion of south carolina in your field of 65....they are 0-4 vs. the rpi top 50 and sos of 274..thanks !! and keep up the good work

Jeff said...


I am not assuming that Washington will win every game between now and the Pac-10 title game. This is something of an expectation value: I do think that there is a decent chance that they'll lose to a red hot Washington State team, and I do think there is a fairly high possibility that they won't even reach the Pac-10 title game. If they win every game until the title game and lose to UCLA they'll probably end up with a 4 seed, but they'll be ranked no higher than UCLA.

As for UConn being #1, again this is something that I talk about a lot. It's the inanity of polls. There isn't a single college basketball analyst out there who thinks that UConn is the best team in the country. I would bet that not a single person who voted UConn #1 thinks they're the best team. They put UConn #1 because they didn't lose last week and all of the teams ahead of them did. It's a silly system that has nothing to do with actually ranking the 25 best teams.

UConn can still earn a 1 seed if they lose to Pitt this weekend, but they'll probably have to make the Big East tournament finals. I think that an Oklahoma team that gets its momentum back and wins the Big 12 tournament title will earn a 1 seed over a UConn team that loses two games in a week and is clearly not what they were before the Dyson injury. Obviously Memphis would also drop from the 1 line if they lose any games between now and Selection Sunday.

As for Washington getting in with a Sagarin of 63rd, that's actually not correct. One thing to be careful of is that Sagarin continues to update his rankings after the tournaments start. Washington would have dropped after losing to UAB in their opening game, and I also note that many of the teams ahead of them were the teams that did well in the NIT that year. For example, the entire NIT Final Four is ranked ahead of Washington, as are two other teams from the NIT's Elite Eight. I don't know what Washington's Sagarin rating was when they earned their at-large seed, but it couldn't have been worse than 55th.

I'm not saying that a team with a Sagarin higher than 50th has never ever made the Tournament, it's just exceedingly unlikely. If your team has a Sagarin of 55, they'd better have something else really special going for them. If they have a Sagarin of 60 they can forget about it. It's a much better signifier of a team's at-large chances than the RPI.

Jeff said...

Trent, there are a few reasons. One is that their strength of schedule is not in the 200s... I'm not sure where you got that from. Their strength of schedule is 78th according to Sagarin, 83rd according to the RPI and 124th according to Pomeroy.

As for them being 0-4 against the RPI Top 50, that is true, but they're also 7-3 against the RPI 51-100. A 7-7 record against the RPI Top 100 is one of the best you'll see among bubble teams. And remember, that win over Florida (currently an RPI of 53rd) could soon become an RPI Top 50 win.

Obviously things will change if they lose to Georgia on Saturday, but otherwise they'll end up 10-6 in the SEC, and they'll have the #2 seed out of the SEC East. From there I'm assuming they will avoid any upsets, which will put them in the SEC semifinals against LSU, most likely. They'd be 22-9 with a Sagarin rating safely inside the Top 40. That will most likely put them in the Tournament.

It's not a lock, but right now they're not even my last team in (that would be either Miami or Maryland after Penn State got a huge win last night and bumped Saint Mary's back out of my bracket).

Anonymous said...

Do I have to, as a URI fan, root for Western Kentucky to win out, or can I safely go with my heart and root for USA to win the conference title again. I haven't followed the Sun Belt at all this year, but WKU seems like they could be a bid stealer if they lose in the conference finals. They've got a bad loss, but their top-50 RPI status and surprisingly large margin of victory over Louisville makes me think they could make my Rams miserable on Sunday. I haven't heard anybody talking about the Hilltoppers though as they have, of course, been leading their conference--even though everybody is talking about Creighton now.

Anonymous said...

CSURamfan--correction WKU won the conference last year, of course, but South Alabama got an at-large. So it wouldn't be winning the conference again--but I want to see them in the Big Dance again.

SFC said...


Interesting bit on the Sagarin rankings, I was unaware of that.

Washington State does scare me. Though it would not shock me if the Huskies lose, I just think they have too good of leadership (Brockman and Dentmon) and coaching to let the schools first outright championship in 53 years slip through their grasp. Not to mention it's a rivalry game and being played in Seattle.

I don't necessarily think UConn is the best team in the nation. But at this point among the top teams (UNC, UConn, Oklahoma, Duke, Pitt, Memphis) none of them have distinguished themselves much. Even if "there isn't a single college basketball analyst out there who thinks that UConn is the best team in the country", which I think is a stretch, it is nonetheless a near consensus that they are at least one of the 4 best teams as of now...

Though it's not improbable that UConn trips up like you think they will, I still think they have a better than 50/50 shot to at least reach the BE final. That being said, if UConn reaches the final it would be at the expense of Louisville or Pittsburgh and vice versa. So, given this "zero sum" bottleneck at the top of the Big East, do you think it's most likely the Big East gets only one number 1 seed? Also, if UConn stumbles and Oklahoma does not win their tourney, who would be (according to your prognostication) the next team in line at the 1 seed?

Also, I forgot about the Dyson injury, but if you're going to penalize UConn for Dyson, then wouldn't you penalize Marquette for missing James?

-Previously Anonymous

Jeff said...


Whether the Big East gets one or two top seeds will depend on what the other conferences do. And that's why I've been vacillating between having UConn as a top seed. If Oklahoma and Memphis both finish undefeated the rest of the way, they're both probably getting 1 seeds. But if one of them falls then that opens the window for UConn or Louisville. If UConn goes to the Big East tournament finals and loses a close game they might still get in as a 1 seed (most likely over Oklahoma). We really just have to see how it all plays out.

As for Marquette, they are being "penalized", but be careful what that means. The Selection Committee will not punish a team because they're missing a player. They are going to give the team the seed it deserves based on its resume and nothing else. I often give the example of Cincinnati during Kenyon Martin's final season. I do think that Marquette has not been playing as well without James, and I have dropped their seed a bit since that injury as well.

And as for Washington, your guess is certainly a valid one. And if you're right and Washington takes care of business this weekend and then makes the Pac-10 finals then they should get at worst a 4 seed. I don't think there's any way they're getting a 2 seed, but they will get a 3 if they win out and take the Pac-10 regular season and tournament titles outright.

And CSURamFan: I want to think more about your question, but I'm off to bed. I'll get back to you in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've been thinking about WKU all evening. I've been comparing them to Davidson. Better RPI, less wins, better big win (Louisville > West Virginia), they play in a better conference and have a much better SOS, however more bad losses, and really bad Sagarin rating. I know Davidson is in real trouble, but I think it is fair to argue WKU has at least a reasonable argument that it is as worthy as Davidson to get a spot should they lose in the finals. Like Davidson, they went out and played good teams and got a scalp out of it, but they also played Florida State, and did in fact beat teams like Georgia and Southern Illinois indicating that they tried to schedule challenges.

I also know this is not supposed to matter, but they were a Sweet Sixteen team last year, and if the committee is feeling biased, they might say, well, they won their conference, they were really entertaining last year, and they beat a 1 seed on a neutral court. Why not put 'em in. Hmmm. Anyway, I'll be interested to hear your thoughts in the morning.

Jeff said...

After going through the numbers, it seems clear to me that Davidson has the better resume and I'll tell you why:

First of all, ignore the RPI. WKU has a deceptively good RPI because of the biggest flaw of the RPI: teams are affected too much by the number of games they play against the RPI 300+. Davidson has played seven teams with an RPI of 298th or worse. WKU has three. Sagarin has Davidson 57th and WKU 91st, and that's a much better judge.

Western Kentucky's win over Louisville is deceptive, because Louisville was not the same team then that they are now. Besides that, WKU has no big wins. Not that Davidson has big wins, but their two worst losses are against Charleston & Citadel, the two best opponents they faced in conference all season. WKU has several indefensible losses, including Murray State, Florida International and Denver. The Sun Belt is only slightly better than the SoCon, so the 15-3 record is basically a draw with the 18-2 record.

You are right that as much as the Selection Committee denies it, they are biased to last year's results. But I can't fathom Western Kentucky's run last year having any effect on this year because it's a totally different team. Darrin Horn is gone. The team more likely to get bias is Davidson, because you know that the Selection Committee wants Stephen Curry in the field. I think Davidson will make the Tournament even if they don't deserve it, so you'd better root for them to win their conference tournament. I think WKU is out unless they win their conference tournament. So I think it's safe for your to root for USA.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clear answer on WKU. Interesting how inflated their power numbers could get. Their resume sounds far better than it actually is. Anyway, go USA Jaguars.

Anonymous said...

Guess URI has to get to the A-10 final now. Sigh.