Friday, March 01, 2013

Virginia Beats Duke, Moves Closer To An At-Large

Virginia 73, #3 Duke 68
I've talked many times on here about Virginia, and why I stuck with them as an at-large team all season. It wasn't just their computer ratings, which remained strong throughout. The bigger issue for me was that so many people making brackets fundamentally misunderstood how the Selection Committee views big wins and bad losses. Too many people thought that Virginia had disqualified itself with its terrible losses to the likes of Old Dominion, Delaware and George Mason. But this is backwards. The Selection Committee has shown over and over again that if all else is even, they prefer teams with big wins and bad losses over teams with neither. There are some bubble teams with basically zero quality wins, and Virginia has a whole bundle of them (Wisconsin, North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, Tennessee and now Duke). And that's why Virginia will likely make the NCAA Tournament.

Joe Harris was the story after this game after scoring 36 points on 12-for-20 shooting, but the real difference was Duke's inability to get anything going offensively or on the glass. They were badly outrebounded and had only a 47.2 eFG%. In all, Duke only scored 0.98 PPP. The only team to hold them to a worse offensive efficiency this season was Miami, during their big upset back in January.

The good news for Duke is that they can wipe this loss away by beating Miami on Saturday. Duke does not control their own destiny in the ACC regular season title race, but they control their own destiny for a 1 seed. Win out and win the ACC tournament title and Duke will earn a 1 seed. Recall that they will finish the regular season on the road at North Carolina, so the Miami game isn't their only tough test prior to the ACC tournament.

Virginia moves to 20-8 overall and 10-5 in ACC play, with a 7-2 record against the RPI Top 100 along with those six RPI 100+ losses. Their RPI is only 59th, but their Sagarin ELO_SCORE will move up close to 25th, and if the season ended now they'd definitely be a Tournament team. To stay in the bracket, Virginia will need to win at least two of their final three regular season games, and then at least one ACC tournament game. They'll play next on Sunday, at Boston College.

#14 New Mexico 70, San Diego State 60
New Mexico has been a hotly debate team of late because they are 2nd in RPI. New Mexico fans have suddenly become the world's biggest RPI fans, and I got a lot of grief from them on twitter yesterday about this. And I do give Steve Alford credit for gaming his RPI, but let's be real, New Mexico is neither the second best team nor do they have the second best resume in the nation. Even setting aside their luck in close games (New Mexico is 10-1 in games decided by 6 points or less or in overtime), New Mexico's RPI itself is inflated by the typical RPI flaws.

If you are a college coach and you want to inflate your RPI, the instructions are easy. First, schedule a bunch of RPI 100+ teams that you should beat easily but which will likely have really good won/loss records (Davidson, Mercer, New Mexico State, etc). Second, avoid RPI 250+ teams like the plague. Smart computer ratings do not see a big difference between an elite team playing #180 or playing #280, but to the RPI it's a massive difference. A perfect example of a team that screwed this up is Iowa. They played five teams with an RPI outside the Top 300, and that's why Iowa's bubble resume has an RPI that is a putrid 91st (for comparison, their Sagarin ELO_SCORE is 38th). New Mexico has played only one RPI 200+ team all season.

So how much will the Selection Committee be manipulated by New Mexico's manipulated RPI? It's hard to tell. They have been a bit inconsistent on this over the years, and it depends who is on the Committee this year. I think that if the season ended now New Mexico would be a 3 seed. Even if they win out, I still don't like their odds of a 1 seed. But they're unlikely to win out anyway. I still think Colorado State is the team to beat in the Mountain West tournament, and New Mexico has a couple of tough remaining regular season games left, also. Their next game won't be so rough, though, at home against Wyoming on Saturday.

San Diego State falls to 20-8 overall and 8-6 in conference play with this loss. They are 7-8 against the RPI Top 100, with a Sagarin ELO_SCORE that is 33rd. There's no question that they'd be in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended now, but they still have to work to do to stay there. I think that a split of their final two regular season games plus a win in the Mountain West tournament will seal it. They'll play Air Force on Wednesday, before closing with a road game at Boise State on March 9th.


JC Bustillos said...

How do you figure CSU is the team to beat?

Gosh some of you people can't even see your ridiculous Bias. Lobos swept CSU and snapped their 27 game winning streak in Moby. Lobos have been essentially dominant in MWC Conference Play.

Manipulated RPI? Are you freaking Serious? The Won the Paradise Jam and beat UCONN to do so. They went on the road and Beat Cincinnati in their place.

The Lobos have ZERO bad losses and all of their losses will be to tournament teams.

Manipulated? Are you freaking kidding me. I tell you what if you mask UNM's schedule and say it was Kentucky's and that the body of work was Kentucky's instead...All of the media would be saying that they deserve a #1 seed.

FYI: I dont want the Lobos to get a #1 seed. I think a #2 is just fine...but Im sick of you guys bashing the Lobos especially when your facts are incorrect and purely based on bias

Jeff said...

I am well aware that New Mexico fans have become the newest converts to the Church Of The RPI, and I've seen the message threads on UNM forums asking people to go out and harass everybody in the media because of some weird idea that everybody who is criticizing the RPI is only doing so because they hate New Mexico... Whatever.

The reality is that I am actually more pro-New Mexico than the computers say I should be. I am showing pro-New Mexico bias, because subjectively I like what I see with that team. I think KenPom and other computer models underrate them.

I encourage you to read through my blog and see many, many other fan bases freaking out at me for explaining to them that the RPI sucks, and that they need to be more realistic about how good their team really is. This is not new.

The only thing that is new is the organized hostility I've seen on New Mexico message boards, which is geared at intimidating people rather than trying to convince them of anything. The last fan base I had that behaved in this manner was Memphis, almost four years ago. So this isn't unique, but it still stands out.

JC Bustillos said...

I dont think you will find that most UNM Fans say that they deserve a #1 seed...but We absolutely HATE when someone like you makes it seem as if its Heresy to even consider it.

I take particular issue with this comment

"Steve Alford credit for gaming his RPI, but let's be real, New Mexico is neither the second best team nor do they have the second best resume in the nation. Even setting aside their luck in close games (New Mexico is 10-1 in games decided by 6 points or less or in overtime), New Mexico's RPI itself is inflated by the typical RPI flaws."

Gaming the RPI? Are you freaking crazy? You see that's ENTIRELY BIAS talk speaking there. Our scheduling is no different then what any major program does.

I mean what do we have to do to get you to realize you are blinded by your Bias?

We beat UCONN and won the Paradise Jam. UCONN was ranked #21 at the time and would be a Tourney Team without the sanctions. We Beat Indiana State at their place which is the Team that Beat Univ of Miami at their place. We beat Valpo another Tournament Team.

We beat Cincinnati at THEIR place when they were ranked #8 and undefeated at the time.

We have ZERO Bad losses and every single one of the teams we have lost too will be in the NCAA Tournament.

Dont even throw me South Dakota State because they are going to the tourney and they just caught us in a game we were dealing with team discipline. If you even say thats a bad loss then I will easily point to Univ of Miami's loss to Florida Gulf Coast (Seriously?)

If you look at our schedule and overall body of work compared to the Univ of Miami we have the overall better body of work.

And its not by "tricky" scheduling like you put it.

There is no such thing as LUCK. You dont Luckily go 10-1 Thats IDIOTIC!

Thats the problem with a dumb system like BPI and the like... if you factor in scoring margin its just ridiculous. Thats why the BCS did away with scoring margin because it is entirely Biased.

The problem is that YOUR Bias tells you that a team like "New Mexico is that even in the US?" shouldnt be there... that the MWC is "beneath" the "Power Conferences"

Thats the issue we really have. We dont care about the numbers...I mean who has Gonzaga beat btw? But they have earned that respect over the years...

So in all reality you guys base your rankings and thought patterns on previous basketball season that have NOTHING to do with the season we play in today.

Its all good I cant wait till Tourney time when the entire MWC proves everyone wrong.

FYI: The only reason we lost to Louisville last year was a freak injury to Drew Gordon in the first half. That completely deflated the team but when He came back we dominated just was too big of a hole to climb out of.

Alford doesn't "Game the System" He Games his players and is an incredible teacher... The rest of the country is on Notice!

Keep your ridiculous bias and numbers we will just go TAKE OUR RESPECT from you.

Jeff said...

Yes, you're right, I'm the one with a personal bias regarding New Mexico. You are totally objective. My bad.

Anyway, once your argument boils down to "We beat Team A who beat Team B who...." you've already lost. I can make that same argument for 200 teams. The purpose of my blog is not so I can try to find a way to rationalize making New Mexico a 1 seed. I need to be more objective.

In some sense you are correct that I can't know for certain that Steve Alford intentionally gamed his schedule. Many coaches do this, so it's not like he'd be unique. But whether he did it intentionally or not, New Mexico's schedule has worked out to be perfectly designed to give them an inflated RPI.

I'll give you just one example. If New Mexico had replaced Davidson on their schedule with Iowa, then their schedule would have gotten much harder. But their RPI and their RPI SOS would have gotten worse. Therefore, by going with Davidson instead of Iowa, they made their RPI better while making their schedule easier. Whether Alford did that intentionally to inflate his RPI or not, I don't know first hand. But that was the effect. And I know that if I was a Division I coach, Davidson would have been near the top of my list of a team I'd want to schedule to inflate my RPI. Mercer and New Mexico State would be two others near the top of my list. People who know how the RPI works would know just why I chose those teams. If you want an example of another "RPI fodder" team I'd have scheduled before this season that wasn't on New Mexico's schedule, I'd go with Montana or Weber State.

As for your special pleading and threats at the end... whatever. I've had 100 different fan bases come through this blog with the same complaint. It's nothing new. I'm glad you love your team. But people like you are making the New Mexico fan base as a whole look bad right now. Stop it, for your own good.

JC Bustillos said...

Uh no my argument has nothing to do with we beat team A...although I did bring it up to take away the line that "South Dakota State" was a terrible loss because it wasn't. Unless your biased as they are a Tournament Team.

I point out the Florida Gulf Coast because if you compare Miami's entire schedule to UNM's who has played a tougher Schedule? UNM by Far... and not only that UNM has ZERO Bad losses.

You also keep failing to mention our wins over UCONN and Cincinatti...BOTH Away from The Pit. Matter of fact you fail to mention our Record on the Road and how NO Other team in the country matches what UNM has done this season.

So how in the WORLD is their schedule inflated? Seriously Go compare Miami's Schedule.. EVERY Team in the nation has at least a couple cupcakes.

And in your Davidson example you CLEARLY showed even more Bias. So your saying Davidson who is going to the NCAA Tournament and who over the past 5years has had a FAR Better program then Iowa should have been replace by Iowa? You are out of your mind. That is your bias completely talking there. WHy is Iowa tougher? Because they are in the Big 10?

For one I dont see us ever playing Iowa considering Alford came from there and Secondly Coach is NOT afraid of playing anyone but... The Historically Top Teams would be foolish to schedule a Home and Home with UNM. Because they know they are more then likely to Get Beat in The Pit and they would rather not take the loss... plus the previous TV situation with the MTN had got in the way...Until this year.

Frankly the only schools brave enough to do home and home's are those in the Pac 12...

As for your ridiculous comment about Pleads and THreats... Dont lump me in with whomever you are referring to. I nor pleaded nor Threatened.

I merely pointed out your obvious bias and you showed it even more so and I merely said we dont need your will have NO Choice but to give it as The MWC is for real and is here to stay. #LoboNation!!!

Jeff said...

Sagarin rates Miami's SOS as being significantly better than New Mexico's. KenPom rates UNM's schedule as being slightly tougher. So I guess you can argue that either team's schedule is tougher, but it's close.

As for Davidson vs Iowa, if those two teams played on a neutral floor, Iowa would be a 4-5 point favorite. Yet the RPI views beating Davidson as the far better win. Because, as we know, the RPI is a terrible metric.

And I didn't say you were "pleading", I said you were special pleading. It's a logical fallacy. Look it up.

If New Mexico ever becomes one of the ten best teams in the country or makes the Final Four, I will be more than happy to give them credit. I have picked a Mountain West team to make the Final Four two of the past three seasons. I'm a big fan of the league.

But as big of a fan of New Mexico as I am, I will never allow any rooting interests I have to cause me to defend such an obviously flawed metric as the RPI.

JC Bustillos said...

You merely stating that Iowa would be favored is showing your Bias... I would pick Davidson any day of the week and on any court over Iowa. Im willing to bet Vegas would as well. Um Hello they did pick Virginia to win last night.

UNM really could have gone to the Final Four last year... That loss to Louisville stung... Im showing my bias for the Lobos in saying that but I know had that injury not happened we would have beat them. Drew was key to us and we were playing at our peak at the time of that injury.

Oh and Every Metric is flawed.... But the ones that have "Human Element" are inherently more flawed then any others I have seen. Because they include ridiculousness such as "Luck", "Margin of Wins" and well "Bias"...

Again not saying they should be a whole argument is against those that make it seem as if its sacrilegious that there is even a discussion and using crazy talk such as "Schedule Manipulation"

Jeff said...

No, Iowa would be a 4-5 point favorite over Davidson in Vegas. That's what the computers say it should be, and the Vegas line is never more than about a point different from the computers. The computers had Virginia as about a 1 point favorite over Duke, also, which is why the line was where it was.

To quote John Gasaway on why it's ridiculous that anybody still uses the RPI in the year 2013: "All rating systems have flaws. Let's use the worst one."

Anonymous said...

Jeff, You are a KNOB who obviously loves Iowa and hates Steve Alford. You have no idea what you are talking about with regards to UNM basketball.

You have an agenda and it's obvious to anyone who has visited this website. Grow up and get over yourself.

David said...

Jeff I have a question for you. Since you say that coaches have figured out a way to game the RPI...can you cite some teams and their schedules from the last 5 years where this is obvious??

Another question is wouldn't you think that according to your logic that if a team loads up on several top 100 teams that eventually it would catch up to them and they would get beat more than 3 or 4 times throughout the season??

Jeff said...

I have no idea what a "KNOB" is, so I'll leave that stupid comment alone. As for scheduling Top 100 teams, that's actually not how you game your RPI. The way you game your RPI is to load up on small conference teams likely to have really good won/loss records, and to avoid RPI 250+ teams like the plague.

Like I said prior, it's impossible to know for certain whether a coach has intentionally gamed his RPI or just got really lucky, other than the few that do admit publicly that they do it. But look for any team that has an RPI way higher than their Sagarin ELO and you have your answer.

Anonymous said...

That's a Luke Winn article from the preseason detailing coaches who "game" the RPI. It's pretty simple. You schedule smaller conference teams likely to have high RPIs, ie teams that should win most of their conference games.

Whether Alford did this or not is irrelevant. What matters is New Mexico's RPI is inflated compared to other computers/Vegas spreads because they've played these RPI inflating teams.

JC Bustillos said...

You guys are utterly ridiculous. CSU last season absolutely inflated their RPI with just ONE game against DUKE.

I hear all these UTTERLY Ridiculous arguments about inflating RPI.. How the F*#$ does that have anything to do with UNM.

All this crap is merely your bias showing. Clear point blank. (applies to Anonymous poster as well)

Iowa would beat Davidson? ON what planet? Iowa sucks and Davidson has been the better program since like 2006. Vegas isnt stupid they wouldn't put the line for Iowa...

Lets look at UNM's schedule for you idiots who haven't even looked at it.

Davidson Home Win: 1st in Southern Conference and an NCAA Tournament Team. (Went to Elite 8 in 2008)

UCONN Neutral Court Win: Would be an NCAA Tourney team if it werent for infractions.

Mercer Home Win: 1st in Atlantic Sun and highly likely NCAA Tournament Team

USC Home Win (I put them in here because the come from a "Power Conference" that isnt better then the MWC. But I give them credit for scheduling a Home and Home with us and not being scared)

NMSU Sweep: (We are required by state to sweep them every year but they are always a contender for their league crown)

Valpo Home Win: 1st in Horizon League and highly likely NCAA Tournament Team.

South Dakota State: Home Loss (only because of Chad and KW being benched for being tardy. Threw off the teams entire rhythm) 1st in Summit League and Highly Likely NCAA Tournament Team

#8 Cincinnati Win on the ROAD! Do I really need to break this one down?

#18 St. Louis Loss on the Road: One bad half led to this loss. Probably had to do with odd travel schedule after Cinci Win. But STL is a very tough team to play

Im not even going to break down the MWC Schedule because it was Very tough and well we are currently 12-2 and have CLINCHED our 5th title in the past 6years...

Go do what I just did to ANY team and compare UNM's schedule to theirs. Two wins against the "beloved" Big East away from The Pit.

Inflated???? You are out of your damn mind to even say UNM has an inflated schedule. Thats just ignorance and INCREDIBLE BIAS.

ervinsm said...

stop tarding up the best cbb blog out there, that by the way is free. If NM guy above could offer a coherent and cogent argument it would be fine to disagree, but the nonsense NM guy is spewing is lowering the level of discussion that takes place on this site.

Keep up the great work Jeff

Jeff said...

Haha, no worries. It's not bad enough that I'm going to delete any comments yet.

What happened is that one of the New Mexico fan blogs has been riling up its posters to go harass anybody who is anti-RPI. Several of them have been harassing me on twitter, and as well as many of the other college basketball writers. One of the twitter accounts fired about 10 really angry tweets at me and dozens of others and then totally disappeared.

Whatever. I don't hold this against the vast majority of New Mexico fans, who I'm sure are good people who just love their team. Every fan base has bad apples.

JC Bustillos said...

Umm... If you read my comments I think I have been fairly respectful of you...

I do point out your bias...

Its human nature to prejudge...

But so called journalists are supposed to know better and train themselves to be aware of their own bias...

If some of my comments came across as rude they were really more directed at the silly comments by "anonymous" posters.

Sorry if they came across as a little harsh...

I think I have laid out my case very clear...and I do think you have contradicted yourself in some of the things you have said while also ignoring very valid points I have made.

Comparing CSU last year to UNM this year is comparing Bananas to Pineapple... Its not even the same thing.

UNM's schedule speaks very clearly for itself. Its body of work is very strong. Absolutely deserving of a #2 seed.

Is there competition for that #2? Sure there is....but dont try to diminish UNM and say they are gaming the system when that is CLEARLY not the case.

I dont see anyone saying the same about Miami whom you very clearly said had a similar schedule to UNM. That unto itself contradicts what you say about UNM.

Its clear bias... Even if you say you like UNM... its bias.

Its because deep down (even if you like them) You see New Mexico and the MWC as beneath the "Power 5"... that has not been the case for the past few years...

Just wait and you will see it this year. There will be 5 teams from the MWC in the tournament and... at minimum 2 will be in the sweet 16.. and perhaps beyond.

Anonymous said...

It'll actually be really funny if new Mexico goes 1-10 in close games next year. Clutch team becomes ultra unclutch with almost the same players.

David said...

Clutch to ultra unclutch is not gonna happen with the way Alford preaches defense at New Mexico. We are in games because the team is smart and tough.

Jeff said...

Whether you go 10-1 in close games or 1-10 is basically entirely luck. Your record in close games has almost nothing to do with skill. New Mexico has been very lucky in close games this year. That doesn't affect their Tournament seed, since teams are judged by wins & loss and not by how good they actually are, but it increases the odds that New Mexico will be an underdog in Vegas against a lower seed in the Round of 32.

And, yes, you do see teams go from "super clutch" to "super unclutch" from one year to the next with basically the same set of players. 2010-11 Memphis vs 2011-12 Memphis is one of my favorite examples.

JC Bustillos said...

Oh so you mean like 2011/2012 UNM Lobos winning the MWC Regular Season and Conference Championship.

And then coming within a 1st half injury of their best player Drew Gordon in beating Louisville in the 3rd round of NCAA's

To this year where they have only improved upon what they did this year but with a FAR tougher Schedule and Conference to DOMINATE it all?

Ya fella's keep showing your IGNORANCE and Proving your bias.
LOL! I love uneducated comments that make people look ridiculous for saying them.

ervinsm said...

only people who work for CBS call the round of 32 the 3rd round.

Jeff said...

LOL, yes. I just call it the Round of 64 and Round of 32, because I refuse to call them the "second round" and "third round", but if I call them the "first round" and "second round" then I'm just going to confuse people.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance that new mexico fans show hahahhahahaha. Greatest entertainment since the rabid Memphis fans attacks.