I can’t even fathom how this is a real question, but it seems to come up all the time in this sport. If we aren’t going to judge teams based on actual accomplishments and instead just try to guess their “potential”, then I don’t know what the point of any of this is.
I don’t think Ken Pomeroy would appreciate your classifying his work as “guessing their potential”.
lol probably not, but I’ve been a paid subscriber to his site since the first day he put the pay-wall up so he can deal with my poor phrasing.
Obviously I think his work is great and useful and interesting, I’m just not sure what I think its role should be in the selection process.
Here’s another version of the same question.
Who should get the 36 at-large berths in the NCAA tournament? The NCAA awards conference champions (usually tournament) the guaranteed berths but what’s the rationale behind the other 36? The simple answer is the “best” 36 teams who haven’t gotten an automatic bid.
But that begs the question of how do you define “the best”? If by “the best”, you mean the ones who have had “the best” seasons to date, then the natural thing would be to start the whole process off by giving the first at-large bids to the regular season conference champions who didn’t win their conference tournament. But that’s not what the NCAA does. They are using some other criteria and many people would say they are giving the bids to the 36 teams who have “the best” chance at actually winning the tournament, or at least winning a game or two. So that drops you into the predictive measurement arena.
How would you determine the at-large bids?
Personally, I hate using the word “best” here, and I don’t know if that’s the official term they use for describing the at-large bids or not but I wish they would change it if it is. I think that term is where much of the ambiguity stems from regarding the goal of the selection process.
A better term would be the “most deserving”, or “most accomplished” even. Winning your regular season conference championship is an accomplishment for sure, something to be considered by the committee in my opinion, although it’s obviously not the same level of accomplishment across the board - winning the Northeast conference is generally not going to be as impressive as winning the Big East.
So how do we determine how impressive all these accomplishments are in order to sort this all out and rank these resumes? I actually don’t think the RPI was incredibly far off the mark. We should look at who all you beat and where you beat each of them (and possibly by how much you beat them). I personally wouldn’t focus so much on losses (but they probably can’t be ignored either), and I would put a lot more weight on road wins than home ones. Sounds a lot like the RPI I guess.
If you could devise a way to focus on these things without making the system so easily gamed, that would be ideal to me. Obviously it’s going to always have a lean in favor of power conferences just because they get more swings at the plate against good teams than smaller conferences do, so that’s another consideration that something like strength of schedule has to address.
The quandrants were/are a good start… I don’t know if a single metric can capture all of this in a meaningful way, but I want to know how many games you won, where you won them, how good were the opponents, and then how many similarly challenging situations did you face where you lost?
The NCAA website that defines the process that the selection committee is to follow states as its primary principle.
• The committee selects the 36 best teams not otherwise automatic qualifiers for their conference to fill the at-large berths.
So yes, they specifically say “best”.
Another article worth reading (from FiveThirtyEight)
Down near the bottom of the article, they (via Ken Pomeroy quotes) point out the inherent dilemma in this process.
In the past, the NCAA has sent conflicting messages about whether its selection and seeding process is fundamentally a forward-looking endeavor or a backward-looking one. “In terms of the how the committee should select teams, it actually says in [the NCAA guidelines] that they need to select the best 36 at-large teams — based on results,” Pomeroy said. “Best” and “based on results” don’t always line up, though. “It’s like a contradiction right in that sentence.”
Not necessarily a contradiction when the statement is viewed as a whole. “Best” is qualified “based on results.”
This suggests that among all teams that may be considered based on results (presumably more than 36), the committee must select what it considers to be the top 36.
Still leaves room for a wide variety of criteria but does not imply that anticipated performance is necessarily one of the criteria.
I’m not sure replacing “best” with “top” clears anything up.
Pomeroy and others, myself included, seem to feel that best (or top) implies a predictive measure. If you are going to decide who is best among a group it seems to go without saying that you need to establish a process that decides, when comparing two teams, which team is better. In my mind, which team is better implies which team would most likely beat the other in a head to head contest on a neutral court. That requires some sort of predictive analysis.
I’m with Craftsy in that “most deserving” or “most qualified” would be a better term if you really wanted to primarily use a results based approach.
I would agree with that.
NET settling in as maybe not so bad afterall.
Thought this was interesting, from the same Stadium article that Cappy linked to about the most disappointing hoops teams of the year so far:
NC STATE MANIPULATING THE NET?
I understand no one knew the formula for the NCAA’s new NET rankings prior to this season, but NC State has certainly taken advantage of the new metric by pounding the hell out of bad teams, and thus sending their efficiency numbers through the roof.
How else could you possibly explain the Wolfpack checking in at No. 30 with a resume that includes seven of their 14 wins coming at home against teams ranked in the bottom 50 of the entire country? UMES and UNC Asheville actually check in at 352 and 353 — the worst two teams in the entire nation — while NC State has also fattened up on Loyola, Md. (312), St. Peter’s (319), USC Upstate (325), Maine (331) and Mount St. Mary’s (342). I mean, Western Carolina (271) looks like a virtual powerhouse compared to some of the others.
The other six wins have come against Auburn (24), Pittsburgh (55) and Mercer (201) at home, Penn State (85) and Vanderbilt (78) on a neutral court and Miami (95) on the road. Hardly an overwhelming cast of victims.
Remember, the scoring margin is capped in the NET, but efficiency ratings are not. So this still gives teams an incentive to pound the you-know-what out of opponents. NC State’s average margin of victory against the eight “cupcakes” is 35.9 points per game, and the degree in which the Wolfpack blew out those teams is helping their efficiency numbers to a huge degree.
I’d be far more apt to buy into the KPI’s ranking of NC State (65) than the NET or even KenPom (29).
Penn State with a 7-12 record and a 75 NET is astounding to me. Oklahoma State at 8-10 is the only other team in the top 100 with a below .500 record.You have to get to Illinois at 104 (5-12) before you find another.
Probably a result of our strength of schedule (#2), coupled with decent efficiency numbers (#63). It’s the “luck” factor (338th out of 353) that has caused our W/L record to crumble. .
Do we get a banner for most Q1 losses?
There MAY be such a thing as bad publicity
I also like underdogs, but this romanticization of low and mid-majors is Vitaleism of the lowest order.
The P6 bubble teams that play much more challenging schedules are also populated with young men between 18 and 22 (-ish) who want to play in the tournament and shouldn’t be punished, either.
If you think Penn State non-conference scheduled itself out last year by playing too many soft teams (I don’t - I think that is hindsight bias), it did the same this year by playing too difficult a schedule with young guards.
Not going to feel sorry for the 8th or 9th or 10th best team in a giant conference with a massive tv contract and all the advantages in the world. 350+ teams competing for 68 spots and the entire game is completely rigged in favor of the top 60 or so programs.
The one saving grace of the whole broken system is that occasionally the selection committee decides to throw the little guys a bone for whatever reason, romance apparently.
Saw a game Vitale was doing last night and his suggestion is that the power conferences should only get 24 of the 36 at-large bids and the other 24 should be reserved for low and mid-major teams that had great years. I think he views a team like a Minnesota or Indiana getting in this year as “rewarding mediocrity”.
I’m sort of with him, a bit, maybe in spirit. I think if you’re not at least .500 in your conference, THAT was your chance to have a chance to get an at-large. That was the task set before you. Lines have to be drawn somewhere. Why have standings in the conference if “deserve” is going to be a factor??
Now a .500 team in the B1G is certainly going to have an edge over a .500 team in the OVC. But why should Minn (19-12, 9-11 B1G) be a likely at-large at this point, while a team like Belmont (26-5, 16-2 in the OVC) has NO chance because they lost their conference championship game to Murray St (27-4, 16-2) who was in the field in 2018?? They didn’t lose to a nobody.
They already have added a partial round to the tournament with the play-in games. Logistics aside, why NOT add a complete round, go to 128 teams with some hard and fast rules about what you need to do to qualify? (.500 in-conference, etc.) Still can get into preferential treatment with seeding, or maybe those bottom 64 are a giant play-in to get 32 opponents to feed to the top 32 teams in the next round. And of course, surprise conference champs would still knock #128 out of the field, but everyone would know pretty much what they need to do coming down the stretch. Teams pushing to be in the top 32 to have a chance to face a bottom 64 opponent. Teams clawing to make it far enough above 128 to be safe from “bumping”… teams trying to win enough games in their conference tournament to get to .500 in-conference… plenty of drama to go around.
And all of those first round games would be just as meaningful as the Dayton games are now