SDST

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.

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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.

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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”.

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January 27, 2014 Basketball # , , , ,

The Endlessly Frustrating Joe Lunardi, Part 1

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.

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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.

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