Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Great Unequalizer?

The biggest news from the world of college basketball over the past week was clearly the proposal by the NCAA rules committee that would push the three-point line back to 20'9". I'm sure everyone has heard the main suggested benefits: It should open up the lanes, help big-men in the post, and encourage players to improve their mid-range jumper. And it's all good and well to think about how this rule will help prepare our players for the international game and the NBA, but the real issue is whether this rule is a benefit or a detriment to the NCAA game itself.

The close three-point line has been called the Great Equalizer by just about every sportswriter under the sun. It's what allows teams to get hot and pull upsets against vastly superior teams. And there's no question that the NCAA game thrives on the upset. It's the reason that the Tournament is one-and-done. It's the reason that the system ensures that a bunch of spots to small and mid-major conference teams. So you don't want to change the ability for three-point shooting to be a major weapon for small-time teams.

At the same time, there is something to be said for having a little bit more consistency in the game. You don't want to have too many of the best teams to missing the important Tournament games. And there's also the sense of fairness: In a one-and-done situation you don't want to stack the deck too much against the teams that rightfully earned their top seeds. It makes the Tournament a little less worthwhile to the people that really follow the sport closely.

So in the end, I have to say that I approve of the decision. It should improve not only the quality of players (due to the different strategies on the newly shaped court), but also the quality of teams that make it further in the Tournament. It will force a lot of teams to change strategies, especially teams like Memphis and Tennessee that so heavily rely on drive/kick-out three-pointers. And all of this shouldn't affect too much the ability for small conference teams to compete. With it still being significantly shorter than the NBA, a good shooter will still be able to go close to 50% on the season. And if a few less three-pointers are taken per game, it should improve the day-to-day consistency of all teams. When a team shoots too many three-pointers per game, they are going to live and die by the shot, and rapidly switch between big wins and bad losses without much rhyme or reason. Anything that decreases that behavior is a good thing.

I don't think the rule change will be too much of a "great unequalizer," but it should improve the game.

About the BP65

(This post has last been updated on April 12th, 2010)

I just wanted to put out a quick review of how the BP65 works. I plan on keeping this post linked from the front page, as reading material for anyone who wants to complain about the format:

When does the BP65 come out?
The first BP65 of each season is published within one week of the previous season's National Championship game. Another BP65 comes out within a week of the NBA draft, and another at some point between Midnight Madness and the first regular season games of the year. After that, they will begin coming out weekly, sometime between the end of games Saturday night and the start of games Sunday afternoon, beginning with 17 weeks before Selection Sunday (i.e. "W-17 BP65"). Beginning with 5 weeks before Selection Sunday, the BP65 will be published twice weekly. The new version will come out after Wednesday night's games end and before Thursday's games begin. Finally, the last week before Selection Sunday will have three brackets. One comes after Wednesday night's games, another after Friday night's games, and the final on the afternoon of Selection Sunday.

Why are your rankings different from most of the others?
Each BP65 includes the 65 teams that I predict will eventually make the Tournament, which is different from the 65 teams that I think would make it if the season ended on that day. I don't think there's any point to considering what would happen if the season ended in January, since the season doesn't end in January.

How do you classify teams that missed the cut?
Each BP65 will also include other teams I'm keeping my eye on. At the start of each year the teams are grouped into "Teams seriously considered that just missed the cut", "Other teams with a decent shot to get onto the bubble" and "Other teams I'm keeping my eye on". After December 1st the list will switch to "Teams seriously considered that just missed the cut", "Other teams with a decent shot, but that need to improve their resume" and "Other teams I'm keeping an eye on, but that need to dramatically improve their resume". Beginning January 15th the list will again switch, this time to "Teams seriously considered that just missed the cut", "Decent resumes, but not good enough", "Long shots, but still in the at-large discussion" and "Still alive, but pretty much need a miracle". Finally, on Selection Sunday, I rank the leftover teams as "If I missed somebody on the bubble, these are the most likely teams" and "Other more distant possibilities - that could possibly get a bid, but probably shouldn't".

How do you order teams that miss the cut?
This is a common cause of confusion, because it's natural to think that I'm ordering the leftover teams in some sort of power ranking. In reality, each list of left-over teams they will be listed in alphabetical order by conference, and then within each conference. So, Virginia would be listed before Arizona because "Atlantic Coast" comes before "Pacific Coast" in the alphabet. But Virginia would be listed behind Boston College, since within the group of ACC teams "Boston" comes before "Virginia".

What else do you have to say about the BP65?
Early on in the season it's possible for a team to come out of nowhere to make a run at an at-large bid. But the idea behind the classification beginning on the first BP65 after January 15th is to identify every team with any kind of shot. If your team isn't on the list after January 15th, then they aren't getting an at-large bid. Because of this, there will be teams that you will say "Come on, it's less than a 1% shot that this team gets a bid, why bother to list them?" But I think that's an interesting way to keep track of season progress. Teams will be eliminated each week as we move towards Selection Sunday. Once a team is eliminated, they will not return to the bubble.

As always, these are just one person's predictions. Sometimes I'll be right (such as when I got killed for not moving Wichita State up to a top-five seed when they were on fire early in the 2006-07 season) and sometimes I'll be wrong (such as when I gave UConn a preseason #4 seed for the same season, when they ended up with an RPI outside the Top 100, due to the fact that I assumed Josh Boone wouldn't go pro and I overestimated their recruiting class). The reason I call this site the "Most honest" is because I don't hide from my errors. You can go through the archives to see all of my early season picks from every season. I will at some point put up statistics regarding my success at different points in the year at predicting the eventual Tournament teams. No other Bracketology websites that I'm aware of go to those lengths. Many of the top sites even make it impossible to find anything but the most recent bracket. I, on the other hand, believe that owning up to my mistakes is the only way to learn from them. The goal is to consistently improve.

And as always, I encourage a lot of debate and discussion. I encourage people to open up blogger accounts if they don't already have them so posters can know who they are talking to. Posters who leave their names are much less likely to use abusive language, which I will censor and delete if I have to. You can criticize me all you want (you can find plenty of harsh criticism in posts throughout this blog) but you have to keep the language clean.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me, through the link available in my Blogger profile.