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



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 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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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 29, 2014 Basketball # , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through January 28

There have been a ton of shake-ups through the ranks over the past two days, with the biggest move being Michigan State’s reclaiming of the fourth #1 seed with their shorthanded win at Iowa last night. The Spartans were able to pick up a pivotal road win, in overtime, without Adreian Payne or Branden Dawson. They weren’t the only team to pick up a high profile conference road win, though. The Duke Blue Devils won by 15 at Pitt and climbed three spots in the process. Pitt, on the other hand, took a tumble from #7 to #13.

I don’t have much else to add right now. I’ve been working from home for the past two days due to the inclement weather in the South, which has, oddly enough, given me less time to watch basketball and do writing. With that said, here’s a look at today’s Top 40.

2014Jan28 - Top 40

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