Thursday, January 18, 2007

Watching the Bubble Already

If you're interested, ESPN is out with their first Bubble Watch. I'm not the biggest fan of some of their selections this early in the year, however. It seems like they just read names off the RPI list, rather than thinking about how good these teams actually are and how they will perform the rest of the way. One of the worst mistakes I noticed was the listing of Dayton as a bubble team, but not UMass. How could they list a team tied for seventh in the conference at 2-2 over the only team undefeated in the A-10? Well, Dayton does have a higher RPI, 59 to 65. UMass has the better record, but Dayton has the better strength of schedule and strength of schedule is a larger part of the RPI formula than actual record. But remember that the rest of the way these teams play essentially the same schedules. They're both in the same conference. So, their strength of schedules will converge, and the team with the better record will probably end up with the higher RPI. Dayton is living off a home victory over Creighton in early December, but people need to remember that Creighton was really playing awful early in the season. They spent that month losing to Fresno State and Hawaii as well. Dayton's second best win is a 4-point home victory over Louisville. But Umass won by four at Louisville, which is obviously more impressive. Meanwhile, all anyone has to do is watch some Atlantic 10 basketball to know that UMass is the better team. Turn on ESPN right now and watch them play Xavier if you don't believe me. Xavier and UMass are the two best teams in the conference. A schedule quirk means that they only get to play this one game against each other. It's not fair to the Minutemen (who won't get a home game), but a win here would go a long way to get them the A-10 regular season title and an at-large bid.


Anonymous said...

I still can't believe that you have butler so low. although they have two losses, they have more good wins than a very high majority of the teams that are ranked above butler on your bracket. You're only excuse for them being so good is that they are "senior heavy." I actually have news for you...Butler has 4 seniors, and only 2 of them...that's right, 2, are regular starters. The mighty AJ Graves nor the mighty Drew Streicher are not seniors. Perhaps you should have a better excuse for ranking them so low other than what will be coming up in the future, because as of right now, they are much more deserving of a higher seed in your bracket.

Jeff said...

Well, "senior heavy" doesn't just mean seniors. What it means is that a team has a lot of seniors and juniors, and that freshmen aren't expected to do too much. Butler's top 8 players in terms of minutes played, as well as in terms of points per game are ALL juniors or seniors. That is unprecedented in the modern game. There isn't another team in the country that expects less from its freshmen and sophomores. Only one sophomore, and no freshmen, on Butler get anything but garbage minutes.

Now, as for their seed. Right now they're ranked 15th in the
Coaches poll, 18th in the AP poll, and 18th in the RPI. For teams in small conferences, you can't divide their ranking by 4, or even their rpi by 4, and expect to get their seeding. Figure if the season ended today, Butler would be a 6 or a 7 seed, maybe an 8. As the season goes on, Butler's strength of schedule will continue to drop. And as strength of schedule is the most important thing in RPI, Butler's RPI will drop even if they keep winning. Even if they won every game the rest of the way, their RPI likely wouldn't be higher than 25th. Assuming they lose a game or two, it will drop further.

If they can go undefeated or only lose one more game the rest of the way, they have a good shot at a 5-7 seed. But I think they will lose three games or so the rest of the way. Which would probably drop them to around a 10.

D. Moore said...

The one that leaps out at me comparing the brackets is UConn. They've only beaten ONE top 100 team -- Ole Miss, # 98. Their only road win of the season is at St John's. In their next three games, they face better teams than any they've beaten so far (and Louisville is an away game). I think they need to win 2 of those 3 games, or it's NIT. They're a bubble team, not an 8 seed.

Jeff said...

My reasoning for UConn is that despite their awful start their RPI is still 68. And they have a very weak strength of schedule that will improve drastically as they continue in Big East play. Let's keep in mind that while they haven't had any good wins, they also haven't had bad losses. LSU, Pitt, Marquette, West Virginia - all Tournament teams. They have a very winnable schedule the rest of the way as well, with no teams left currently in the Top 25. A 10-6 or 11-5 Big East record is pretty reasonable from where they stand.

Also, let's remember that this is a very young team (every regular and semi-regular player is a freshman and sophomore - they're the anti-Butler), and young teams tend to be streaky. Just look at all of the different faces that Marquette has shown this year. The Huskies are currently in a slump, but they'll eventually get out of it and get on a roll. What happens when Jeff Adrien establishes himself as a real force and all-Big East player? Or perhaps one of the new guys takes a leap, like Doug Wiggins? They'll win a bunch of games. And they're a glamour team, so they're more likely to get into the Top 25 or get a high seed than a team with the same resume but less of a household name.