Arizona

March 14, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 13

There were so many shake-ups yesterday that I don’t even know where to begin. Villanova lost their spot as the EPW #1 overall team with their loss to Seton Hall. Iowa tumbled 12 spots thanks to a loss against Northwestern and now are on the outside looking in. Xavier, Providence, Stanford and Florida St. have all taken the necessary steps to strengthen their resumes. All in all, yesterday was a pretty eventful day in college hoops, and it is only going to get better.

Spreadsheet

Seeds

1: Arizona, Florida, Villanova, Syracuse

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

3: Michigan, Creighton, Virginia, Iowa St.

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

5: Louisville, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina

6: Gonzaga, Ohio St., New Mexico, Pittsburgh

7: Texas, VCU, George Washington, Oklahoma

8: UCLA, Harvard, Baylor, Memphis

9: Oregon, Kentucky, Southern Miss, Colorado

10: Stephen F. Austin, Xavier, Toledo, Providence

11: Stanford, Arizona St., Florida St., SMU

12: Oklahoma St., Dayton, (Nebraska/Saint Joseph’s), North Dakota St.

13: (Green Bay/BYU), Louisiana Tech, Manhattan, North Carolina Central

14: Delaware, Georgia St., New Mexico St., Mercer

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

16: American, Wofford, (Weber St./Coastal Carolina), (Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern)

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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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February 13, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through February 12

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you. Without some dope rankings to step to.

Sorry for being slack on updating these rankings. Crappy weather in North Carolina, coupled with yesterday being the anniversary of leaving my mother’s womb, has left me less interested in doing any writing. But today is a new day. And that new day brings a new #1 team to the EPW rankings.

Fresh off last night’s victory in Pittsburgh, the Syracuse Orange are now the projected #1 team at the end of the regular season. Not that this development is terribly shocking. Being undefeated tends to correlate strongly with being highly ranked. But Syracuse had not been able to jump ahead of Arizona based on their weaker schedule. Oddly enough, the schedule strength is much closed than I expected. The to-date SOS for ‘Cuse is .787, with Arizona sitting at .777. That margin shrinks in the end of season numbers.

The most interesting thing I have noticed in the last week is that the rankings have normalized a bit. There hasn’t been a ton of movement since my last update. Saint Louis had the biggest jump of the Top 25 teams, climbing 6 spots to #11. Bracket Matrix has Saint Louis slotted at #17. The real results will look more like Bracket Matrix, if I had to guess, as the public perception doesn’t seem to be matching the actual results. Maybe that will change if they pick up a win at VCU on March 1, but I think it’s a much more likely scenario that the Billikens will be underseeded come tourney time.

top40 feb12

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February 4, 2014 Basketball # , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through February 3

I was hoping to get this post up yesterday, but life intervened in the form of a root canal and a tooth extraction, so college basketball took a backseat to Vicodin and doing nothing. The ranking landscape has changed since I last took a look at it, with the biggest story being Arizona picking up their first loss of the season at Cal. The data I’m using for comparison today are the consensus rankings from Bracket Matrix. I took the 41 rankings that were updated before yesterday’s games from Bracket Matrix and averaged those results. Feel free to mentally adjust Iowa St. and Oklahoma St. based on last night’s game. The rest is should all be valid. The teams are sorted in order of their rank at Bracket Matrix.

top4 - feb4

 

 

Arizona, Syracuse and Wichita St. all line up perfectly, with the only miss in the Bracket Matrix #1 seeds being Florida. While I’m not surprised that there’s disagreement among the top 4 teams, I am surprised that Florida is the team that’s causing it. EPW has them at #5, so it’s not outlandish, but they just aren’t the team I would expect to be there, especially with the way Lunardi has been touting Kansas. The only other thing of note from this graphic is that even though Arizona dropped behind Syracuse in the current rankings, they are still projected to finish in the top spot at season’s end.

5-8 feb4

 

 

 

I have documented my thoughts on Kansas before, so I’m not going to touch on that here. Villanova is slowly becoming the team I am most interested in reading about each morning. They’ve played a difficult schedule, only have two losses, yet don’t seem to be getting much discussion for a potential #1 seed. Of the 41 brackets that make up the consensus, only eight have the Wildcats on the top line. Maybe that will change if they can avenge the Creighton loss, but if that’s the only game they lose for the rest of the regular season, I believe they are in the driver’s seat for a #1 seed. I expect that I am in the minority with that opinion, but I stand by it.

The other big point coming from these four teams is San Diego St.’s Pyth rating. Right now, it is lower than the other projected #2 seeds. Looming as a potential 7-seed, both from Bracket Matrix and the EPW numbers, is Ohio St. The Buckeyes’ Pyth rating today: .897. Much higher than the other projected #7 seeds. While no #2 seed would be excited to play Ohio St. in the 2nd round, that match-up could be disastrous for SDST. Even if SDST has a Semi-Home game based on location of that game, KenPom sets the line at 1.5. This is a very specific scenario, but it’s the type of game that garners “SHOCKED” and “UPSET” headlines on ESPN after it happens.

The next few seeds all line up pretty well. I’ve already touched on Kentucky. They’re over-seeded with the Bracket Matrix numbers, as well. Oklahoma St. has a big disparity in the rankings, but that is mostly due to last night’s loss not being factored into their seedings. As always, here is the EPW Top 40. Louisiana Tech is only projected in 2 of the 41 consensus bracket’s, hence they’re rank of “X”.

top40 feb4

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January 27, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: The Undefeated Teams in College Basketball

With Sunday having been a dull slate of game, I decided to take a look at the three remaining undefeated teams, their schedules thus far and their outlooks for the rest of the season. Ken Pomeroy tweeted last night that the chances of at least one undefeated team at the end of the regular season was 48%. Whether or not any of these teams finish the regular season undefeated is largely meaningless. They don’t go from “unbeatable” to “suspect” just from a loss. It is, however, exciting (at least, to me) to think about a team having the potential to be undefeated heading into the NCAA tournament. Obviously, Wichita St. is in the best place to do so. They have a much larger chance than Arizona or Syracuse of finishing the regular season undefeated, along with a higher chance of winning their conference tournament. Most of the discussion really lands on Arizona and Wichita St., as Syracuse’s current chances at an undefeated regular season are a little over 1%, but I’ll be taking a look at all three teams anyway.

The first thing I want to take a look at is a visual representation of the games these three teams have played through January 27. What I have done in the chart below, is graph each team’s value added from each game played, from best to worst. For example, on the blue line (Arizona), the 1st data point is at .676, which corresponds to their victory at Michigan on December 14. The average likelihood of my original six baseline teams (UCLA, Iowa, Oklahoma St, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Wichita St) winning that game at Michigan was .324, therefore Arizona is credited with the difference between one full win, and that average result. Hence, that game is worth .676. I did this for every game each team has played, they graphed them in descending order.

Undefeated - Best to Worst

 

The two things that stand out the most, to me, are the amount of quality wins Arizona has compared to the other two teams, and the lack of quality wins that Wichita St. has at all. Now, to offer some context for that graph, the following table has all the pertinent information for this exercise.

Undefeated - Breakdown

 

Two quick things to point out in this graphic. The “Opp” column is the opponent’s current rank in the KenPom ratings, and the “Rank” column is a ranking of all 59 total games between the three teams ranked in descending order of value.

I don’t think I’m pointing out anything new when I say that Arizona’s best wins have been amazing. Between the three teams, Arizona has four of the best five wins. This isn’t a product of three teams with weak schedules, either. Of those four Wildcat wins, three of which came on the road (Michigan, San Diego St and UCLA), with the fourth (Duke) being at a neutral site. The only non-Arizona win to crack the top five actually comes from Wichita St., which will have most people who read this scratching their heads. The Shockers win at Saint Louis on December 1 ranks as the 4th best win of this entire bunch. I’m sure a lot of people would assume that Syracuse’s wins over Pitt and Villanova would rank higher, but in this instance, those people would be wrong (and it’s not really that close.) Saint Louis is a top 25 KenPom team. Beating a team like that in their own building is a difficult task.

Aside from that Saint Louis victory, however, things are a bit more bleak for the Shockers. Their next best win comes in at #12, a road win at Alabama. The entire group of victories between #6 and #11 all belong to Syracuse. They might not have the marquee victory yet, but those six wins are all very strong. If those six games were played by the mythical baseline team, the expectation of winning those all of those games is just under 10%.

Right now, this information lines up with the polls. Arizona is ranked #1 based on the strength of those top shelf wins. Syracuse slots in behind them with the bulk middle-tier victories, and Wichita St. is the third banana, a quality team hasn’t had the caliber of wins (and won’t have the opportunity to pick up those wins until the second weekend of the NCAA tournament) needed to change the perception from “Best Mid Major” to “Best in the Nation.”

undefeated-remaining

 

Looking at the above graphic of remaining games for each team, you can quickly see that Syracuse’s schedule looks very similar to Arizona’s starting schedule. The Orange own the four most difficult remaining games between the teams, with Arizona grabbing the next five in strength. Wichita St. only shows up twice in the top 20, which is why their chances to finish the regular season undefeated are around 40%. To put that 40% in perspective, Wichita St. goes undefeated in the regular season as often as Andrew McCutchen reached base last year in his MVP campaign. Arizona, however, is just under 12%, or Andrew McCutchen’s walk rate in 2013. Syracuse is bringing up the rear, finishing undefeated 1.3% of the time. To complete the baseball benchmarks, that’s how often McCutchen has ground into a double play over the course of his career. I have no idea how the rest of the season will go, but as a Duke fan, I hope the Blue Devils come in to 2nd base hard on Sunday. The last thing I want to see is Syracuse rolling a pair.

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