And here I thought I was done for the day.
Joe Lunardi posted his updated S-Curve today, ranking his top 68 teams, along with the first eight out. While a full comparison is definitely coming, if I don’t touch on a few of the ridiculous rankings now, I’m going to explode. I hate that this bothers me, but articles like this are behind the ESPN pay wall and, as such, should be held to a higher standard.
First, a qualifier. Lunardi states, “This is where teams would fall if Selection Sunday were today.” While I have looked at the projections playing out the regular season schedule, Lunardi is stating, definitively, that it is seeding as of today. This makes it easier to poke holes in his “analysis.”
Frustration #1: Kansas is the #3 in Lunardi’s S-Curve. Through January 26, I have Kansas slotted #13. Now I don’t want to quibble too much in those rankings, specifically. Two spots each way makes it much more reasonable. Don’t get me wrong, ranking Kansas #3, while ignoring the remaining schedule, it completely insane. Vegas Watch broke down the Kansas/Wichita St. rankings a few days ago here. Yes, Kansas has played a much harder schedule that Wichita St. No argument there. Yes, Kansas’ best wins are largely “better” than Wichita’s; however if I rank the top 10 wins between them, it’s a 5-5 split. But one cannot simply ignore FOUR LOSSES, simply because they played good teams. Take a team like Michigan, which also has four losses. Michigan’s schedule actually grades out as MORE difficult than Kansas so far. Michigan also has wins at Michigan St. (I know, injuries. Whatever.) and at Wisconsin. These two wins rank as more difficult than any of Kansas’ victories. Lunardi is simply being lazy. His “Bracket Math” doesn’t add up. You cannot rank a team #3 on this body of work to-date. There are way too many teams with comparable schedule strength and better results. If you want to make the argument they are #3 when the conference tournaments end, that’s fine. You can build that argument. Making it now is just silly.
Frustration #2: Kentucky is #10 in Lunardi’s S-Curve. One spot behind Kentucky in that S-Curve: San Diego St. Through January 26, I have SDST ranked #4, while Kentucky is ranked…wait for it…#31! Kentucky is 27 spots below San Diego St.
Strength of schedule (lower is better) – SDST: .821, Kentucky: .830. Call it a wash.
Top line wins – SDST: @Kansas, neutral site vs. Creighton, Kentucky: Home vs. Louisville, neutral site vs. Providence. SDST with six of the top ten between the two teams, including the top two.
So San Diego St. has better top shelf wins and essentially the same strength of schedule. Probably a spot or two ahead of Kentucky, right? What’s that? I didn’t mention the losses. Oh right, Kentucky has four of them. San Diego St., however, has one. On November 14. To the #1 team in the nation, with a bullet. The exact type of loss that Joe Lunardi drools over. I have 27 teams ranked in between these two. If you want to say that’s too extreme, fine. But this is the type of analysis that Lunardi should be doing as an “analyst” behind the ESPN pay wall. I put this together in a little under an hour and did a significant amount of prep and research for it. I’ll get paid nothing. Joe Lunardi is the face of ESPN’s Bracketology. If his job ever becomes available, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. I’m not sure I’ll get it based on a blog post from my own website, though. I’m guessing I won’t gain enough “winning points” for it.