Tuesday, February 22, 2011

B101's Questions For The Competition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." Today's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi and SI.com's Andy Glockner. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent brackets, which were released before Monday's games.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 21 Bracket
What do you have against Richmond? The Spiders are 10-3 in the A-10, they have an OOC win over Purdue, and they're not in? Worse yet, they're behind UAB on your First First Out list?

Speaking of UAB, how are the Blazers so close to being in? Conference USA deserves three bids more than the Colonial does? More than the A-10? Based on what?

How does Cleveland State move up to a 12 seed after getting blown out at Old Dominion?

Isn't Kansas State a little high as a 9? How is Washington still a 7? Virginia Tech is a 10 and is two seed lines above BC?

Andy Glockner (Sports Illustrated) - Feb. 21 Bracket
No Alabama? Memphis and Butler both have better chances at an at-large if the season ended today?

We're not opposed to the Colonial getting three bids, but VCU's an 11? They're not a 12 or Last Four In?

How is UConn two seed lines better than Louisville? The Cardinals beat the Huskies twice and are a game better in conference.


LOL @ Alabama said...

Normally I think you guys are about the best in the business, but you guys really need to get over the whole Alabama thing. I get the fact that you guys look ahead, so I'm assuming you're projecting Bama to finish at least 13-3 or 14-2 in order to include them.

But if the season ended today, they wouldn't be anywhere close to the field. Their #77 in the RPI right now (which would be the worst ever), they're only 3-4 vs. the top 100 and even worse they're only 5-4 vs. the teams between 100-200. They have 2 good wins, and 5 (FIVE!) TERRIBLE losses! How is this an NCAA Tournament team? To answer your question... Butler and Memphis DO have better at-large chances than Alabama if the season ended today.

So what if they're beating up on the pathetic SEC West? That doesn't make up for their 6 non-conference losses, only 1 of which coming against a Tournament team. I think you guys are putting way too much stock into their conference record, and aren't dissecting their actual resume.

Plus what's with you guys assigning random conference maxes and minimums. Teams get bids, not conferences. If George Mason, Old Dominion, VCU, and Drexel were the last 4 at-larges on your S-Curve, would you eliminate 1 of them in favor of a 4th ACC team farther down the S-curve? Just "because the ACC deserves more bids"?

I agree that Memphis, UTEP, and UAB shouldn't all be in Joe's field, but it's not because the CUSA "doesn't deserve 3 bids" it's because UAB and UTEP don't deserve to be in.

Thomas said...

^ With all due respect, have you watched Alabama play a game this year after November? Alabama is definitely playing well enough to be tournament worthy. I think their early troubles are being held against them too much.

Todd Lucas said...

Tough question to answer, Thomas. It's supposed to be a body of work resume, so, in theory, the games in November would each count as much as games in February.

mag900 said...

since when do november games count as much as march games?

Dawgola Tesla said...


Generally, I agree with everything you say but I have to disagree about the RIchmond/UAB argument. UAB has a significantly better RPI (33) than Richmond (63), as well as 7 RPI top 100 wins vs. 4 for Richmond (granted the Purdue win does look pretty). Also, Richmond has 2 losses outside of the RPI 100 vs. only 1 for UAB.

BTW, I agree with you about Butler. That's an NIT team all the way. As for Alabama...I think the committee might catch hell no matter what they decide.

Anonymous said...

mag, that's why I said "in theory".

mag900 said...

in reality, they don't. a win in the first round of a conference tournament counts A LOT more than a win in november. the "body of work" gives extra weight to more recent games because more recent games are more indicative of how a team will play in the ncaat than games played in november. look at how much a team like UNC has improved during the year.

Joe said...

ESPN has not EVER been kind to A-10. As a Xavier fan it seems that they always say that the A-10 teams will lose when we are up against one of the power conference teams etc. Watch after the selection Sunday show how far their experts advance A-10 teams. It is sad really. I am just happy that Xavier, Temple, Richmond, along with some of the others are fighting for some respect for the conference. If we can get 3-4 teams in a year I would be happy.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, although the committee claims they quit looking at "last 10" or "last 12" games, last year. In reality, I think you're probably right though, hence Notre Dame's 6 seed, last year.

Anonymous said...

Joe, last year Hubert Davis picked Butler as his "early exit", if that tells you how much he knows.

John said...

I'm curious, does the competition ever actually answer these questions?

Bracketology 101 said...

We trade tweets with Glockner about his quesions. No response from Lunardi.

Anonymous said...

Lunardi was actually at UR for the St. Joe's game (he does radio for the Hawks) and saw just how good the Spiders can be.

UR has neutral court wins over Purdue and Wright St and road wins at Dayton and at Seton Hall. Pretty strong.

UAB's best wins are home games over weak opponents. Their RPI is inflated by a bunch of losses to top 50 teams.

Anonymous said...

UAB is getting consideration because...

1) They are currently 1st in the CUSA standings

2) They have a high RPI now at 30 (one of the highest not included in the field)

3) UAB has just 1 "bad" loss... a 3pt loss on a last second 3pter at Arizona State early in the year.

4) UAB has 7 (SEVEN) Top 100 wins

5) UAB has played the last several games without their leading scorer/rebounded Cameron Moore (including a 4pt loss at Memphis)... Cameron Moore will be back later in the year. The committee has shown it makes special consideration for injuries.

Alot of the "hate" on UAB is directed at the absence of a Top 50 win... yet several of UAB's victories are just outside the Top 50 and have the potential to become Top 50 wins.

UAB has wins over the following teams (including some which have been listed as bubble teams)...

- VCU (RPI 57)
- Marshall [twice] (RPI 59)
- UTEP (RPI 61)

If all of those become Top 50 RPI teams, that would be 4 Top 50 wins. In any event, there's a shot that some of those teams reach the Top 50. UAB also has a remaining game @ Southern Miss (RPI 44) that is yet another shot at a Top 50 win.

Lots of at-large teams with worse resumes than UAB are getting more consideration. And it has almost everything to do with the perception that CUSA is weak (despite 7 teams from CUSA being in the RPI Top 100). CAA, by the way, has just 6 teams in the RPI Top 100.

Anonymous said...

If Syracuse wins @Gtown on Sat, do they climb to a 3 seed? They have great road wins (St Johns, UConn, and Nova) along with home wins over WVU and ND. Compare them to Purdue or Wisconsin. Those 2 teams beat OSU at home recently, but not much else is in there, especially on the road.

Joe said...

Anonymous I remember well, Butler is my wife's alma mater and we watch a lot of their games since she has a few relatives that played for them. I actually was telling her about that same thing while we were sitting up in Indy getting ready to walk over to Lucas Oil to watch them play for the national championship.

Secretly though I was wishing Xavier had knocked off K-State because I REALLY wanted another shot against the Bulldogs after the clock mess up earlier in the season last year.

Bracketology 101 said...

Syracuse will be a 3 if they win at Georgetown this weekend.

Will said...

RPI is overrated. In the RPI, a 40 point loss to a great team is more valuable than a 40 point win over a terrible team.

Ivar said...


How high can Michigan State climb if they win out the regular season and make it to the conference semis?

Bracketology 101 said...

We know that teams get bids and not conferences, but when people make that statement they seem to forget the human element that is involved. The committee members are not robots and whether or not they want to admit it each of them will be thinking for example "If we put Marquette in that will be 11 Big East teams."

We are admitably down on UAB more so than other bracketologists since they have already been swept by Memphis and will likely be swept by Southern Miss after their game in Hattiesburg on March 2. That will put the Blazers behind both Memphis and Southern Miss in the C-USA pecking order which likely won't be a a good place to be. Their tourney hopes are definitely improved with Memphis recent lose to Rice and UTEP losing to UCF in the past week, but the third best team out of C-USA will likely equal NIT this year.

Bracketology 101 said...

Michigan State could climb to a 7 given your scenario

Matt Triss said...

@Joe, I like the A-10 too, but some team besides Xavier needs to do damage in the NCAAs for the committee to take the conference seriously.

Will said...

You know what guys who projected early exits for all of the A-10 teams in last year's tourney, behind their backs, should be called? Correct, 66.66 percent of the time. 12 teams in the league, 1 sweet sixteen berth... Gosh, How can they possibly refrain from showing every game on ESPN? 1 team out of 12 made it to the sweet sixteen the year before, as well... And, that's weird... 1 the year before that. The A-10 is a 1-team league that gets pulled up because of Xavier. Take Xavier out and you might as well be the patriot league.

In fact...

Since 2005's tournament, the Patriot league has 2 wins in the tourney. The A-10, minus Xavier, has 2.


Anonymous said...

Will, I agree the RPI is overrated. When will the selection committee chuck it altogether and adopt a more accurate ratings system?

Anonymous said...

UAB is currently 1st in CUSA.

If UAB finishes the season with wins over Houston, Southern Miss, and ECU... UAB will win at least a share of the CUSA regular season title (if not outright). Do that, and you can take it to the bank. UAB will be in the NCAA tournament.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the RPI?

One of the other more popular rating systems was developed by Sagarin which factors in margin of victory.

Here are the Sagarin ratings for some teams which have been discussed:

UAB (52)
Butler (53)
Gonzaga (54)
Alabama (58)
Boston College (59)
Colorado State (62)
Memphis (67)
Baylor (68)

Anonymous said...

Those are the synthesized Sagarin ratings. I'm pretty sure the committee uses the ELO chess rating (margin of victory does not matter). The predictor rating uses margin of victory, but again I don't think the NCAA uses that (BCS only uses ELO).

Anonymous said...

Looking at the ELO...

Memphis (43)
UAB (48)
Boston College (51)
Colorado State (54)
Tennessee (55)
Clemson (56)
Butler (60)
Gonzaga (66)
Alabama (79)
Baylor (82)

TheAnswer1313 said...

I dont think they use Sargarin nearly at all.

In fact its listed as "other reference materials" so the numbers (along with Kenpom) are available for use but from what I've heard people hardly ever use them.

mag900 said...

margin of victory should not be used because there are too many other factors that it doesn't account for. for example, why should a team that goes up by 30 in the 2nd half get penalized for emptying its bench and letting the backups play if the final margin of victory winds up only being 15 points?

Anonymous said...

Jerry Palm now projecting UAB in along with Memphis from CUSA.

Palm's Last 4 in...

- Richmond
- Michigan
- Gonzaga

Palm's Last 4 out...

- Dayton
- Drexel
- Marquette
- Southern Miss

Anonymous said...

The NCAA using any ratings system that included point spreads would only enourage teams to run up the score.

Anonymous said...

Clemson should be getting more consideration. They have beat 4 teams in Joe Lundardi field. FSU,Long Beach St.,BC and VT.

TheAnswer1313 said...

Margin of victory should certainly be included.

In fact, studies have shown that margin of victory is far more indicative of true talent then actual W/L record.

To protect from what others were saying you can put a cap on it so that teams aren't encouraged to "run it up".

If I have two teams and one is 25-10 and the other is 20-15 but the 25 win team is barely winning games meanwhile the 20 win team is blowing everyone out, I'm taking the 20 win team all things being equal.

To just ignore margin of victory your leaving out a huge portion of data.

mag900 said...

"In fact, studies have shown that margin of victory is far more indicative of true talent then actual W/L record."

give me a break. one, what "studies"? two, who cares about talent? so should we just seed based on who has the most mcd AAs on their rosters?

margin of victory is so flawed it's ridiculous. as i wrote earlier, there are so many variables that do not get accounted for (eg, playing the bench in a blowout). also, how would you account for bc losing by 32 to unc AT HOME and then going on the road and losing to the same unc team (no major injuries) by 2 on the road 18 days later?

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting to hear how a team with 15 losses is blowing everyone out.

TheAnswer1313 said...

You misunderstood.

1. By true talent I simply mean the better team (not necessarily the ones with the most mcds).

2. There's been studies on this in EVERY SPORT. In baseball you could look at runs scored and runs allowed as a better indictor of future performance than W/L record. This is the very same thing in basketball. I'll see if I can find a link later.

3. The 15 was just an example. Obviously an NCAA team with 15 losses isn't blowing out many people so maybe my numbers I used were bad in these circumstances.

So your trying to tell me that if Team A won by 25 over Team B and Team C won by 5 over Team B, you'd treat each as the same?

Thats ridiculous. But that's what your doing by totallying excluding margin of victory.

Now obviously u get to a point of diminishing returns. A 20 point victory is far better then 10 point but is a 40 point win that much more impressive than say a 30 point one? So eventually you get to a point where it matters less and less which is why I suppose you could cap it (just so that teams don't purposely run it up).

In fact, look at the NCAA winners the past 10 years...look at their margin of victory....compare it to other teams. It most certainly means alot.

TheAnswer1313 said...


Theres one.

TheAnswer1313 said...

One last thought,

You need to consider strength of schedule obviously. A 30 pt win over Depaul isn't the same as a 30pt win over Pittsburgh lol.

Actually this is exactly what Ken Pomeroy does with his rankings. I'm oversimpliying it but basically its margin of victory but adjusting it for SOS.

But it's cool that people think margin of victory doesnt matter. It just means I make more and more money when I do my brackets :)

TheAnswer1313 said...

Also your thing about playing the bench shouldn't matter a great deal. First off, how many times do you see the bench play significant minutes? Even in blowouts I rarely see teams empty the bench with significant time remaining. Yes so a 25 pt lead might turn into a 15 pt win.....that's still better then a 5 pt win.

The great majority of teams unload their benches at the same time during blowouts so IMO the effect is small on the overall season results.

Todd Lucas said...

I agree that margin of victory can be used as an aid to rate teams. The question is whether or not it ought to be.

Predicting future results isn't what's important in selecting tournament teams. What's important is evaluating past performance. And ultimately, all that matters in that evaluation process is who you play and whether you win or lose.

I wouldn't want some widely inconsistent team to get a bid over a more consistent team, simply because the former had more blowout wins against the same schedule.

If two teams play the exact same schedule, I'll take the one with more wins, every time.

If two teams play the same schedule, I could care less which one had a better point differential or which one beat more "top 50" teams. All I care about is which one had the better record.

TheAnswer1313 said...

I agree to an extent but margin of victory isn't just about predicting the future.

I mean it all depends on what your wanting. The teams with the most wins might not be the better team.

IMO it's about sending the BEST 37 or so at large teams.

I'm just not so certain that just because one team has more wins against the same schedule, that they are the better team. I hate to say this but its true with all sports......luck does play a role in things....that's why I hate looking at wins/losses only.

I think you look at as much data as possible and then make the decision (w/l, margin of victory, rpi, kenpom, sargarin, who you beat, where you beat them etc.)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the Horizon debate about Butler is still raging in here...!!

Anonymous said...

The RPI is by far the WORST model out there at measuring how good teams are. If you honestly believe differently, then this article will explain why you are wrong better than I can:


mag900 said...

the study in the article you posted really is a bunch of bunk. they looked at ncaa basketball games over 4 seasons in which teams played each other twice. i assume that most of such pairings were home/away conference games. its conclusion was that because the team that wins the first game isn't more likely to win the second game, there is no such thing as a "clutch" team. it also found that if a team wins by 20 the first game, it has a greater than 50% chance of winning the 2nd game. this isn't very surprising because (1) the home court is an enormous advantage so the home team usually will win in conference play and (2) if one team is much better than the other, it doesn't matter where they play. it definitely doesn't prove that margin of victory indicates which team is better.

mag900 said...

"In fact, look at the NCAA winners the past 10 years...look at their margin of victory....compare it to other teams. It most certainly means alot."

it means a lot if you are comparing ohio st to iowa. it doesn't mean anything when you are comparing ohio st to kansas.

are you surprised that the ncaa champions have better margins of victory than most other teams? do they have the best margins of victory? no.

i beg to differ about teams rarely pissing away huge leads. yes, you don't see a team empty its bench with 10 minutes to go in a blow, but you usually see them liberally rotating in bench guys and resting starters. you also see a team with a huge lead often playing stall ball or practicing different offenses and defenses, which causes the lead to dwindle.

TheAnswer1313 said...

It's not just comparing Ohio St to Iowa. Anyone can see the differences there without even considering margin of victory.

Read the first part. About not picking UNC and going with Kansas because UNC had alot of close wins as opposed to Kansas. Sure enough Kansas won the title that year. Now obviously UNC was a great team and they still could have won the title but in terms of who the safer bet was they went with the team that had the better margin of victory. And thats one example.

This isn't really about determining who's better between 1 and 68 but rather 1 and 2 and 2 and 3. Obviously there's more things to look at. I would never suggest just looking at this and concluding one team is better then the other. But to completely ignore data is wrong.

It's not surprising that others feel this way. Thats why teams get underrated and overrated all the time.

Anonymous said...

In order to get a truly accurate rating system, margin of victory MUST be included. I would suggest putting an upper limit of 20 points (no more credit for wins by more than 20 points).

Joe Kerr said...

I don't think margin of victory should matter, at least not that much.

I know this is a minimal sample, but look at Butler in the tourney last year--they beat UTEP by 18, but then over their next five games (including the Duke loss) the margin of victory wasn't any greater than seven. The point is, they still GOT THE WIN.

Then a team like, say, Kentucky, who blew out everyone in their first three games, loses when they play a close one against West Virginia.

Obviously that's just a random example that probably doesn't carry much weight, but I'd almost argue having more close wins is better, since that's a more battle-tested team.

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