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March 11, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 10

Spreadsheet

Seeds

1: Villanova, Florida, Arizona, Syracuse

2: Wichita St., Wisconsin, San Diego St., Kansas

3: Michigan, Creighton, Virginia, Iowa St.

4: Duke, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Michigan St.

5: Louisville, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut

6: Oklahoma, Ohio St., VCU, George Washington

7: Gonzaga, New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Texas

8: Memphis, Harvard, UCLA, Oregon

9: Kentucky, Stephen F. Austin, Baylor, SMU

10: Southern Miss, Arizona St., Colorado, Toledo

11: Xavier, Iowa, Providence, Nebraska,

12: Oklahoma St., Saint Joseph’s, (Dayton/BYU), (Florida St./Green Bay)

13: North Dakota St., Louisiana Tech, Manhattan, North Carolina Central

14: Delaware, Georgia St., Boston University, New Mexico St.

15: Mercer, UC Irvine, Eastern Kentucky, Stony Brook

16: Robert Morris, Wright St., (Wofford/Weber St.), (Coastal Carolina/Texas Southern)

 

Last Four In: Dayton, BYU, Florida St., Green Bay

First Four Out: Kansas St., Stanford, Missouri, St. John’s

Next Four Out: Arkansas, California, Tennessee, Minnesota

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March 10, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 9

There have been lots of changes since the last rankings update. I had planned on putting stuff up on Saturday AND Sunday, but got side-tracked by day-drinking on Saturday and a hangover yesterday. It happens. Also, I am now deeply immersed in South Park: The Stick of Truth. Absolutely hilarious game. Anyway, no one cares about that so I’ll get to the point.

5 teams have officially punched their ticket to the dance: Mercer, Coastal Carolina, Harvard, Eastern Kentucky and Wichita St. Stony Brook (or Albany, but whatever) replaced Vermont, Wofford (or Western Carolina) replaced Davidson and the Horizon’s automatic qualifier will either be Wright St. or Milwaukee. Green Bay took a tumble, dropping 12 spots since the last rankings. They are now slotted in the Last Four In, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them passed by some of the bubble teams with games left to play.

The biggest change, in my opinion, came at the top. Villanova is now the #1 team in the EPW rankings. Please understand, this does not mean that Villanova is the best team in the nation. It means that Villanova has performed the best relative to expectations, which is how I believe the tournament should be seeded. While they have one more loss than my #2, Florida, they’ve played a harder schedule. If Villanova can win the Big East tournament, and avenge the two beatings they took from Creighton, I truly believe they should be the #1 overall seed. I don’t think the committee will agree, but I think we all know that my opinion is way more important.

One more note before I provide the updated data is on Wichita St. The Shockers are the #5 team in EPW, meaning they would not be considered a 1-seed in the tournament. I think a reasonable argument can be made that Arizona, Florida, Villanova and Syracuse should be the four 1-seeds if they all win their respective conference tournaments. The chances of the tournaments playing out like that are small, so I don’t expect this to be an issue, but it is something to think about over the next week. Being undefeated should not be an automatic 1-seed.

Spreadsheet

Seeds

1: Villanova, Florida, Arizona, Syracuse

2: Wichita St., Wisconsin, San Diego St., Kansas

3: Michigan, Creighton, Virginia, Iowa St.

4: Duke, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Michigan St.

5: Louisville, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut

6: Oklahoma, VCU, Ohio St., George Washington

7: New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Texas, Gonzaga

8: Memphis, Harvard, UCLA, Oregon

9: Kentucky, Stephen F. Austin, Baylor, SMU

10: Colorado, Southern Miss, Arizona St., Toledo

11: Xavier, Iowa, Providence, Nebraska

12: Saint Joseph’s, Oklahoma St., (Dayton/Florida St.), (Green Bay/Stanford)

13: North Dakota St., Louisiana Tech, North Carolina Central, Delaware

14: Iona, Boston University, Georgia St., New Mexico St.

15: Mercer, UC Irvine, Eastern Kentucky, Stony Brook

16: Robert Morris, Wright St., (Wofford/Weber St.), (Coastal Carolina/Texas Southern)

Last Four In: Dayton, Florida St., Green Bay, Stanford

First Four Out: Kansas St., BYU, Missouri, St. John’s

Next Four Out: Arkansas, California, Tennessee, Minnesota [4 states…weird]

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March 6, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 5

Stanford, out. Dayton, in. While the rest of the bracket had some small jockeying between the rankings, the biggest change was the Flyers tagging in and the Cardinal diving out. Stanford lost by 3 at home to Colorado, while Dayton knocked off the suddenly slipping Saint Louis on the Billikens home floor.

Spreadsheet for March 6

 

Seeds

1: Arizona, Florida, Villanova, Wisconsin

2: Wichita St., Syracuse, Kansas, Virginia

3: Michigan, San Diego St., Creighton, Duke

4: Iowa St., Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Michigan St.

5: Louisville, Saint Louis, North Carolina, Connecticut

6: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA

7: Ohio St., George Washington, VCU, Gonzaga

8: Memphis, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Iowa

9: Arizona St., SMU, Colorado, Harvard

10: Oregon, Green Bay, Stephen F. Austin, Saint Joseph’s

11: Southern Miss, Xavier, Providence, Kansas St.

12: Baylor, Oklahoma St., (Florida St./Dayton), Toledo

13: (Arkansas/Missouri), North Dakota St., Louisiana Tech, North Carolina Central

14: Belmont, Delaware, Boston University, Georgia St.

15: Iona, New Mexico St., Mercer, UC Irvine

16: Vermont, Davidson, (Robert Morris/Weber St.), (Coastal Carolina/Texas Southern)

 

Last Four In: Florida St., Dayton, Arkansas, Missouri

First Four Out: Stanford, Nebraska, BYU, Clemson

Next Four Out: Utah, Tennessee, California, St. John’s

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March 5, 2014 Basketball # , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 4

We have finally reached the most exciting time in college basketball. The next two weeks are arguably the most exciting two-week stretch in all of sports. The breakdown of a potential NCAA tournament field will change daily. As someone who is writing about these changes, I couldn’t be happier. With that said, he are the updated EPW rankings through March 4. The link to the spreadsheet is here.

Quick note, I realize that Arkansas/Missouri are matched up in the chart below for the play-in game. This is literally just a breakdown from 1-68, with no adjustments whatsoever. I know this can’t happen. I’m just not trying to predict the real bracket yet.

 

1: Arizona, Florida, Villanova, Wisconsin

2: Wichita St., Syracuse, Kansas, Virginia

3: Michigan, Duke, Creighton, San Diego St.

4: Iowa St., Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Michigan St.

5: Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut, Louisville

6: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA

7: Ohio St., SMU, VCU, Gonzaga

8: Memphis, Kentucky, George Washington, Pittsburgh

9: Iowa, Arizona St., Harvard, Oregon

10: Saint Joseph’s, Green Bay, Stephen F. Austin, Southern Miss

11: Colorado, Xavier, Providence, Stanford

12: Kansas St., Baylor, (Oklahoma St./Florida St.), Toledo

13: (Arkansas/Missouri), North Dakota St., Louisiana Tech, North Carolina Central

14: Belmont, Delaware, Georgia St., Boston University

15: Iona, New Mexico St., Mercer, UC Irvine

16: Vermont, Davidson, (Robert Morris/Weber St.), (Coastal Carolina/Texas Southern)

 

Last Four In: Oklahoma St., Florida St., Arkansas, Missouri

First Four Out: BYU, California, Clemson, Dayton

Next Four Out: Nebraska, St. John’s, Minnesota, Georgetown

 

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March 3, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 2

Here’s a quick synopsis of what’s going on in the EPW rankings.

Biggest jump from a team that could matter: Indiana (from #89 to #69) – They can get into a serious at-large discussion, but it’s going to take wins vs. Nebraska and at Michigan, plus a deep run in the Big Ten tournament, to do it.

Biggest fall from a team that matters: Kentucky (from #21 to #33) – This team is going to be fascinating on Selection Sunday. I fully expect them to be two spots higher than EPW will show, if they hold this current pace. If not, MSM can start writing articles about how Wichita St. will lose to 9-seed Kentucky in the Round of 32. (FYI, KenPom would have the Shockers as 4 point favorites on a neutral court, 6 point favorites for a semi-home game.)

Last Four In: Baylor, Florida St., Arkansas, Brigham Young

First Four Out: Missouri, California, Dayton, Nebraska.

The Arkansas/BYU/Missouri/Cal run is particularly tight, with Arkansas’s rating being .025 and Missouri/Cal sitting at .022. Those rankings are close enough to shift solely on results of teams they have played, which would impact their perceived strength.

Stephen F. Austin Watch: The Lumberjacks held steady at #39 after a 40-point win at New Orléans and a 13-point victory at Southeastern Louisiana. The are two wins away from a perfect record in the Southland conference. This shirt is already bookmarked and ready to be ordered once they punch their ticket.

As always, here is the link to the document with the full ranking breakdown.

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February 28, 2014 Basketball # , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through February 27

I don’t have time this morning to do a blog post, but I wanted to get this posted as I am getting the EPW rankings added to Bracket Matrix. I think the rankings will serve as a great baseline for this exercise. If you can’t beat this method, which is very simple and can be completely replicated by anyone, then you probably should not be covering college basketball. Link to the full document is here.

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February 27, 2014 Basketball # , , , , ,

EPW: The Case for Stephen F. Austin

There are two things that I am hoping for in the next couple weeks. The first is Villanova getting a number 1 seed. A friend and I made a bet about Nova’s seed, hence my interest. The second thing I want to see happen is for Stephen F. Austin to lose in their conference tournament but still get an at-large bid. The problem is, they likely won’t get in.

The Lumberjacks (awesome nickname, imo) are 25-2. They haven’t lost since November 23, which was an 8 point loss at East Tennessee St. Their only other loss was at Texas on November 15. They lost by 10. They have four game left in their regular season, which would put them at 29-2 heading into the conference tournament. They are going to have a bye to the semi-finals. Let’s assume they win their semi-final game and then lose to Sam Houston St. in the final. They would sit at 30-3 and likely be heading to the NIT. I believe this is a travesty.

The first thing to discuss is their schedule. It’s shitty. Of the teams ranked in the top 100 in EPW, SFA’s schedule is dead last. In fact, out of all 351 teams I have rated, their schedule is the 5th easiest. Only Alabama St., Incarnate Word, Radford and Hampton have had an easier slate. So I get it. Besides Texas, they haven’t played anyone of value. All of their wins are in Tier 4. But should that matter?

When I run my baseline teams through SFA’s schedule, the Lumberjacks have a positive result. They have won MORE games than either Clemson, Nebraska, Baylor, Providence, Colorado or Harvard would have been expected to win against that schedule. They have done everything expected of them and then some. Is the NCAA tournament really better off taking a team like St. John’s, who now sit at 18-11. I say no.

I wonder where the line gets drawn. If they had only two losses (Texas and the conference tournament final), I believe they’d get an at-large. For some reason, that one extra loss has removed them from the conversation entirely. I see so many people on Twitter talking about “X” team’s SOS. Usually “X” is Wichita St. They mentally bring them down a peg because of it. The problem with those people is that they have no baseline. They immediately think weak schedule = bad, without ever trying to determine how much that schedule affects them. You can play a weak schedule and still exceed expectations against that schedule. Would SFA (or Wichita St.) really look better because they scheduled a game at Syracuse in December and lost? Absolutely not. Winning is what matters. Stephen F. Austin has done a tremendous job of it so far. I’d hate to see them not be rewarded for it because of bad reasoning.

Here’s the embedded spreadsheet with ratings through yesterday, along with the direct link to the document. The two columns to the far right are the ranking from February 19th and the difference between that ranking and today’s ranking, for those looking to see the movement in the last week.

 

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February 20, 2014 Basketball # , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through February 19

I’ve got a new toy to play with.

At the beginning of January, Ken Pomeroy had a blog post about the fairness of wins. The basis of the post is simple. All wins are not created equal. The location of the victory plays a huge role in its worth. So last night, I stole his idea (Thanks, Ken!) and created buckets for every game played this year. I have broken the games in to four tiers. I used Providence as my baseline team, as they were my “First Team Out” when doing the research last night. For example, a Tier 1 win can be classified as a win over a top 20 team at home, a top 40 team at a neutral site or a top 65 win on the road. All three of those buckets have the same average win%. Then, I did the same exercise for Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4. The following is a snapshot of Wichita St. Not that this is showing anything we didn’t already know.

wichita st tiers

 

Even though the Shockers are the only remaining undefeated team, EPW isn’t putting them on the top line for seeding. The breakdown of their victories tells the story. Having only two high ranking victories (@ Saint Louis, home vs. Tennessee) will weigh them down like an anchor on Selection Sunday.

creighton tiers

 

Compare their resume to a Creighton team that sits one spot behind Wichita St.   The Blue Jays have four Tier 1 wins, plus three more in Tier 2. These are the type of numbers that jump off of the page when evaluating resumes. People will ignore the fact that Creighton is projected to have five losses at the end of the regular season. It’s all about the big wins. I was able to clean up my spreadsheet over the past two days, so I know have the EPW ratings for every team in D1. In case you are curious, Southern Utah brings up the rear with a negative .756 rating. I’ve embedded the output so you can take a look at the ratings for every single team. If there’s a number in the “S-Curve Rnk” column, this means they are projected to be in the NCAA tournament. Click here to open the sheet in a new tab.

(*Also, I am currently in the middle of my third annual Celebrity Death Pool draft. You can follow along at home by clicking the links on the sidebar for the 2014 version. Scoring system based on life expectancy from actuary tables, if you are curious.)

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February 17, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through February 16

After an eventful weekend in college basketball, I was pretty excited to refresh my spreadsheet to get the updated rankings. First, a disclaimer. I have changed the baseline teams. There are two reasons behind that but the main one is that the teams that I had originally been using were a bit too good. It was pushing up teams with poor SOS and good records. In a bit of a spoiler, I’ve added all conference leaders to this exercise, along with a ton of extra bubble teams. I noticed something was off when Stephen F. Austin was climbing way too high in the rankings. That’s when I remembered I needed to adjust the baseline. So now, the baseline teams are: Clemson, Nebraska, Baylor, Providence, Colorado and Harvard. The changes really aren’t dramatic. The scale of ratings is really the only difference, which will be seen in the graphics to follow.

College Basketball Automatic Qualifiers as of February 16

(Quick note: the average f(SOS) of the Top 40 teams is .604. Lower equals more difficult.)

I generally just took the team that is leading the projected standings from KenPom, unless there was a clear switch that needed to be made. It’s really not going to change anything if you think there’s a different winner in the Big South or something. They all suck. I currently have ratings for 93 teams, with Southern being the worst of the bunch. The “S-Curve” column is the ranking, in order, of the 68 teams EPW say should be in the tournament. Davidson, Weber St., Coastal Carolina and Southern would be the four automatic qualifier teams that play bullshit play-in games.

I’ve seen a lot of back and forth on Twitter lately about Wichita St. and the likelihood they’ll receive a one-seed on Selection Sunday. At first, I assumed there was no doubt they would be on the top line if they finished the regular season undefeated and won the conference tournament. Now, I’m starting to see the scenarios where this doesn’t happen. If Syracuse, Arizona and Florida win their conference tournaments, they will all be one seeds. I don’t think there is any debate. I think Villanova, Michigan St., Duke and Kansas can all get the last one-seed with strong regular season finishes and conference tournament wins. There is a gulf in schedule strength between the Shockers and the potential one seeds and I think the committee would look at the SOS and bump Wichita St. down a peg.

The more interesting thing to look at right now is the bubble. I tried to rate as many bubble teams as I could, but I’m sure I missed one or two. If there are any teams that should be rated, hit me up on Twitter and I’ll get them added.

College Basketball At-Large Candidates as of February 16

Florida St., Indiana St., Oregon and Saint Joes are the current last four in, with Providence, Southern Miss, BYU and Tennessee being the first four out. There is very little separating most of the teams on the bubble, so this section will be in constant flux. Simple changes in schedule strength from games played that don’t involve the bubble teams could jump a team like Providence over Saint Joes. I think these ratings do the best job of identifying teams that need a closer look, but really, when it comes to figuring out if Oregon or Southern Miss are the 51st best team in the nation, the answer is mostly irrelevant. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to blog about it for the next month, though.

As always, here is the Top 40:

EPW College Basketball Top 40 Rankings through February 16

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