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.



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 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.



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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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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January 23, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , , , , , ,

March Madness: Inaugural EnglePomWatch Ratings

I’ve attempted to write this for over a week but now that Joe Lunardi has put out his most ridiculous column in a long time, I figured now I need to pick up the pace.

The following is an up to date ranking of college basketball’s elite, based on a method started by VegasWatch here. The method is simple, really. Using KenPom ratings, compare how other teams’ would have fared by playing Team X’s schedule. Today, I’m going to hit on a few of the big outliers compared to Lunardi’s current bracket, and, barring laziness, give updates every few days after big wins/losses.





OK, let me go over the columns, as there’s a lot of information in that graphic. c(W%) and f(W%) represent the team on the left’s current winning percentage (absent games against non-D1 opponents) and what their winning percentage is expected to be at the end of the regular season based on KenPom ratings. Pyth is the team’s current pythagorean rating, per KenPom. Now, we get into the basis of the method. c(SOS) is average difference in win percentage from the baseline teams (UCLA, Iowa, Oklahoma St, Villanova, Pittsburgh & Wichita St) and the actual win percentage from the team on the left. Note, that those 6 teams listed are completely arbitrary. They can be changed, but the general path of the data will remain the same.

So, if those 6 teams were to play Arizona’s schedule, we would expect their win% to be .814. Since Arizona’s is currently 1.000, we take the difference and end up with the Curr. Diff. column, in this case .186. This entire exercise has been done for all the teams with seeds 1-12 in the current Lunardi bracket, along with some bubble teams.

The f(SOS) and End. Diff. columns are the same method, only it’s projecting through season’s end. I think this is the best way to look at potential seeding, as this paints the picture of how we would expect this method to look in 6 weeks. I probably did a horrible job explaining this, but whatever. Head to the VegasWatch link at the top and search his archives. He probably explains it better than I did.



The first team I want to look at is Lunardi’s current darling, Kansas. Lunardi has the Jayhawks as a one seed, and proceeded to write an article today explaining that. His logic (that their schedule has been super hard) is completely ignoring the fact that they already have 4 losses. In order for Kansas to end up as a one seed, you need to use some pretty optimistic projections for the rest of Kansas’ season. Luckily, I’m using some reasonable projections instead. I have Kansas ranked #10 when projecting through the end of the season. (Note: end of season is just that. This does not factor in the conference tournament.)

Yes, Kansas has played an incredibly difficult schedule. The hardest of all the teams I am tracking, in fact. But just because you have played a difficult schedule does not mean the results of the games shouldn’t matter. With his method, if you played 20 road games against the 20 best teams in college basketball and lost them all, you would have 40 “Winning Points” and would be a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Right.

Look, Kansas is a good team, and if they won the entire tournament this year, no one would be shocked. But to project them as a 1 seed now because they happened to play Villanova, Colorado, Florida and San Diego St., with total disregard for the outcome of the game, is absolutely insane.




And I thought the Kansas seeding was bad. First of all, Kentucky hasn’t been good. Their only quality win was against Louisville. They are actually underperforming the performances expected for my 6 baseline teams. I think you can make a better case for them being unranked than being #14. They have one road win. They have done nothing of note this season and are being ranked and projected as if this were 2011. How Lunardi (or anyone) can have a team like Pittsburgh either ranked behind, or projected ahead of, Kentucky, should not be covering this sport. (Spoiler alert: Lunardi has Pitt as a 5 seed. I have them projecting as the 7th best resume in the country.) While Pitt’s schedule has been easier to-date, it projects equal at the end of season (.805 vs. .806). If you play an equal schedule, but have 2 fewer losses, that has to matter, right?

Anyway, there are a few other major differences between Lunardi and this method that I will touch on later. For now, here is the EnglePomWatch Top 40 projections for the end of the season.


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