this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I don't think it's directly Michigan-related at this point, but it's not as OT as True Detective or Cosmos so I'll throw it out there anyway.
Curious about what people think about this:
Most of what I see in bracketology commentary, here and elsewhere, rests on a tacit assumption that a win is a win and a loss is a loss, regardless of score. Thump a team by 30 or beat them on a last-second banked-in three, it's all the same to your RPI, your RPI/SOS (and everyone else's), your record against whatever class of teams you want to consider.
But to me there's a big difference between firmly establishing your superiority over a team vs. winning a coinflip at the buzzer.
To make this concrete, two teams each with ten losses playing very comparable schedules. Team A played the #97 SOS at kenpom; team B the #95 SOS.
Team A lost games by 1, 2, 2 (OT), 2, 3, 4, 4 (OT), 4 (OT), 9 and 14. The 14-point loss was at the kenpom #29, the 9-point loss was at the kenpom #1
Team B lost games by 1, 2 (OT), 4, 5 (OT), 7, 8, 10, 14, 16 and 25. The 25-point loss was at the kenpom #90, the 16-point loss was at the kenpom #129, the 14-point loss was at the kenpom #67. And the 25-point loss was their last game of the season--it's not like they're heading into the tournament with a full head of steam.
Team B is in Lunardi's most recent bracket. Team A has never appeared even in his last eight out. (Yes, I know, Lunardi. It's similar across the matrix.)
Why? To me, team A has only been soundly beaten twice, by very good teams. Other than that they've just lost more than their share of coinflips. Team B's gotten completely dominated several times, sometimes by bad teams.
Shouldn't that matter? At this point team B has firmly established that they aren't a top-25 caliber team. With team A I'm not sure--maybe they aren't, maybe they are and they've been unlucky.
Am I swimming against the herd here? I understand that the committee might not want to make a lot of noise about point spreads because they don't want to encourage coaches/teams to run up the score. But should they ignore them altogether?
(If you're still wondering or want to fact-check, team A is Utah and team B is Arkansas.)
Mistersuits posted a bracket projection a couple of days ago and I thought it might be good to have a single thread where people could post their contributions to the genre.
Mine is more or less the current Massey rankings turned (I hope) into a rule-conforming bracket. I'm mostly posting it because I'm amazed at how many interesting matchups I got without moving anyone off their natural seed and with minimal movement within the seed lines off the desired s-curve:
- possible 2nd round Harvard/Michigan (needs no explanation)
- UCLA/St. John's (Lavin)
- Dayton/Xavier (byobracket doesn't allow movement of the play-in games from the default regions, as far as I can tell, but I would put this in the east under Villanova so the winner would be in the Cincinnati/Toledo/Pitt pod)
- Louisville/Eastern Kentucky
- Creighton/Nebraska share a pod
- And lots of former conference rivals separated in this year's restructuring meeting early: Louisville/Syracuse, Villanova/Cincinnati/Pittsburgh.
Last I heard, the NCAA hadn't decided what they would do if Dayton were one of the last four at-large teams. My guess is that they'd slide them up and out of the play-in game instead of giving them home court (and wouldn't tell us that's what they'd done), but I'm not giving up Xavier at Dayton without a fight. If you live around here, you understand.
Anybody else have one?
It's getting close to that time of the year again, the NCAA Tournament! ESPN has opened up the Tournament Challenge 2013. Obviously we can't make our picks yet, but you can get registered early. I have created a group for the MGoBlog community to join. Please use your names that are in use here on the blog so we know who the competition is. Only one entry per person. And once the first game of the tournament has started, the group will be locked.
I know that this past week has been tough for all of us, but I'm still optimistic about our chances this year for a deep tourny run. Also playing teams outside the B1G will be a breath of fresh air.
Group Name - MGoBlog Community
Password - WeOn!
Link?..........Link -----> http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/en/group?groupID=2997&selGrp=2997&entryID=38148
edit: Some people have been getting a message about the group being full or something like that. That message is referring to only allowing one entry per person. There are unlimited spots in this group.
Lunardi has put out a really early preseason bracketology today and has us in the midwest region with a 2 seed going up against Vermont.
Other notables include Indiana as a 1, MSU as a fellow 2 seed, UCLA (seriously?) as 1 seed and U of D as 14.
Stupid, pointless prediction at this point, I know, but it's still got me excited to see others are thinking very highly of us. Fingers crossed, this could be a very special year for the athletic department.
First of all, how great is it that this thread is OT? Anyway, this is the time every year that the talking heads on ESPN are all up in arms about teams that got left out of the tournament. This year's teams are primarily Virginia Tech (again) and Colorado, with a little St. Mary's, Harvard, and Alabama thrown in. Personally, I think the committee wanted the First Four to be major conference vs. mid-major conference, and they thought VCU and UAB were the two best mid-major teams. I also think that the committee took records away from home to be very important. Examples:
Michigan on the road: 5-5, with wins at tourney teams MSU, Penn St., and Clemson. This is where the #8 seed comes in.
Penn State was out of the tournament up until they got to the BTT finals simply because they lacked good road wins. They had the toughest schedule in the Big Ten (only played Iowa and Indiana once each), with an SOS ranked #6 in the NCAA, and had home wins over Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Illinois, but their best road win is Minnesota in the last game of the season. That's why they needed to beat Wisconsin and MSU at a neutral site to get in. If they lost to MSU I think they were out.
Colorado on the road: 3-9. Wins at Kansas St., Texas Tech, and CSU-Bakersfield. Worst losses were to San Francisco, Oklahoma, and Iowa State. Also lost to bubble teams Georgia and Harvard.
UAB on the road: 9-5. Only four of those wins were in the RPI top 100, but that's 3 more top 100 road wins than Colorado has. Of the five losses, only one was to a bad team (Arizona St., in November). Three of the other four were to tournament teams Duke, Georgia, and Memphis.
VCU on the road: 8-6. This is the shakiest of the bubble teams, as they lost to South Florida, Northeastern, and Georgia St. on the road. However, they also won at Old Dominion, Wichita St., and James Madison (all top 100 teams), and beat UCLA and George Mason in neutral site games.
Strength of schedule was really important as well. Colorado played 7 teams with an RPI of 294 or worse. They finished 20-13, so they are a 0.500 team against the top 293 teams. Penn State didn't play anyone ranked below #230.
So who do you think should be in or out?
Since my part of the Worst State Ever was covered in a blizzard this morning, I had a chance to go ahead with more comparisons of Michigan to other bubble teams (previous comparisons included Virginia Tech and Butler). Today I’ll look at two teams that ESPN has as a 10 seed, above the “last four in”, and another that is squarely on the bubble, a 12 seed in ESPN’s bracket. Warning: this is long, and a product of me not having to work today.
First comparison: the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga is 19-9 and tied for first in the West Coast Conference with St. Mary’s (another bubble team). I chose Gonzaga for a couple reasons: first, unlike St. Mary’s, their schedule strength is at least comparable to Michigan’s; second, they should now be above the last four in by virtue of their in last night at St. Mary’s.
A word on St. Mary’s: with three straight losses in the last 8 days (including RPI #317 San Diego), the Gaels’ resume has taken a big hit; Somehow, Joe Lunardi still has them as a 10 seed, but they are 3-6 against the top 100, with two of their three wins against the #63 and #99 teams. Their lone big win was against St. John’s, which is a huge win, but it was also the first D-I game of the season for both teams. With that record against good teams, and a loss to the #317 team last week, I don’t see how they make the tournament without winning their conference tournament, especially since the loss to Gonzaga last night dropped them ten spots in the RPI. Even if they make the WCC finals and lose to Gonzaga again, they’ll be in the mid-50’s RPI at best, with another loss on their resume. Gonzaga, however, has enough top-100 wins that they should be able to sustain a loss in the conference tournament finals to St. Mary’s.
Here are the wins and losses for each team. The only common opponent is Illinois, who beat both Michigan and Gonzaga, though Michigan’s game was on the road and was much closer. I again listed Gonzaga’s losses next to Michigan’s worst nine losses, which helps to make up for the difference in schedule difficulty.
RPI Team RPI Team
24 Xavier 36 @ Michigan St.
51 vs. Marquette 43 Harvard
56 @ St. Mary’s 61 Oakland
57 Oklahoma St. 62 @ Penn St.
83 vs. Baylor 62 Penn St.
97 @ Portland 65 @ Clemson
97 Portland 98 Northwestern
107 IUPUI 111 Utah
121 San Francisco 172 @ Iowa
162 Santa Clara 172 Iowa
228 @ Pepperdine 186 Indiana
228 Pepperdine 250 Bowling Green
246 Lafayette 252 Bryant
249 @ Wake Forest 273 Gardner-Webb
278 @ Loyola Marymount 279 N.C. Central
278 Loyola Marymount 317 S.C. Upstate
315 San Diego
318 Eastern Washington
RPI Team RPI Team
2 @ Ohio St.
2 Ohio St.
4 San Diego St. 8 Purdue
10 @ Notre Dame 13 @ Wisconsin
28 vs. Kansas St. 13 Wisconsin
32 Memphis 17 vs. Syracuse
38 vs. Illinois 38 @ Illinois
56 St. Mary’s 47 Minnesota
87 @ Washington St. 77 vs UTEP
121 @ San Francisco 98 @ Northwestern
162 @ Santa Clara 186 @ Indiana
What stands out to me after doing this comparison is how equal these two resumes are. Gonzaga has a win against a top 25 team in Xavier, but Michigan has more impressive road wins and better wins near the bottom of the top 100. Gonzaga has three additional wins, but they played four more teams with an RPI above 200. Each have three losses outside the RPI top 50 (none at home). The real difference between these schedules is that Michigan played Kansas once and Ohio State twice, while Gonzaga played Eastern Washington, Southern, and Lafayette. Also, Michigan’s losses were to better teams.
Next comparison: The Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has an RPI of 78 (Michigan’s is 66) with a schedule strength of 139 (Michigan’s is 21). They are 11-2 in the absolutely terrible SEC West, and 8-6 out of conference. Bizarrely, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has them above his last four in as a #10 seed. It’s not just Lunardi, by the way; the Bracket Matrix shows that 36 of 68 brackets have Alabama in the field at the moment. Here is the comparison between Michigan and Alabama, comparing Alabama’s 8 losses to Michigan’s 8 worst:
RPI Team RPI Team
16 Kentucky 36 @ Michigan St.
29 @ Tennessee 43 Harvard
73 Mississippi 61 Oakland
105 Arkansas 62 @ Penn St.
116 South Carolina 62 Penn St.
120 Lipscomb 65 @ Clemson
144 @ Mississippi St. 98 Northwestern
144 Mississippi St. 111 Utah
205 @ LSU 172 @ Iowa
205 LSU 172 Iowa
228 Pepperdine 186 Indiana
231 SE Louisiana 250 Bowling Green
255 Troy 252 Bryant
264 South Alabama 273 Gardner-Webb
271 @ Auburn 279 N.C. Central
271 Auburn 317 S.C. Upstate
297 Alabama A&M
309 Florida A&M
RPI Team RPI Team
2 @ Ohio St.
2 Ohio St.
8 @ Purdue 13 @ Wisconsin
22 @ Vanderbilt 13 Wisconsin
57 vs. Oklahoma St. 17 vs. Syracuse
99 vs. Seton Hall 38 @ Illinois
105 @ Arkansas 47 Minnesota
119 vs. St. Peter’s 77 vs UTEP
143 @ Providence 98 @ Northwestern
162 vs. Iowa 186 @ Indiana
This just doesn’t make any sense to me. There is simply no good reason to rank Alabama ahead of Michigan. Four losses outside the top 100, another at #99. A loss to Iowa, who Michigan beat twice. This is simply an example of someone overrating one or two “marquee” wins and ignoring the overall resume. The biggest marquee win, by the way, is over a Kentucky team that is 1-6 on the road in the SEC (Kentucky also lost road games to Georgia, Ole Miss, and Arkansas, and only managed to beat S. Carolina). Their biggest out-of-conference win is at home against mighty Lipscomb. This is not a tournament team, and the SEC is not worthy of having six teams make the tournament.
Last comparison: the UAB Blazers. UAB has an RPI of 34 and SOS of 55. They are 19-7 overall, 9-4 in Conference USA. They are 7-6 against the RPI top 100, but 0-5 against the top 50. Lunardi has them as a 12 seed and one of the last four in.
RPI Team RPI Team
58 VCU 36 @ Michigan St.
59 @ Marshall 43 Harvard
59 Marshall 61 Oakland
69 @ UCF 62 @ Penn St.
69 UCF 62 Penn St.
77 UTEP 65 @ Clemson
80 Kent St. 98 Northwestern
105 @ Arkansas 111 Utah
132 @ E. Carolina 172 @ Iowa
147 George Washington 172 Iowa
173 Rice 186 Indiana
201 SMU 250 Bowling Green
221 Middle Tenn. St. 252 Bryant
240 @ Tulane 273 Gardner-Webb
255 @ Troy 279 N.C. Central
264 South Alabama 317 S.C. Upstate
297 Alabama A&M
307 SE Missouri St.
336 Jacksonville St.
RPI Team RPI Team
2 @ Ohio St.
2 Ohio St.
13 @ Wisconsin
5 @ Duke 13 Wisconsin
32 @ Memphis 17 vs. Syracuse
32 Memphis 38 @ Illinois
39 @ Georgia 47 Minnesota
40 Southern Miss 77 vs UTEP
91 @ Tulsa 98 @ Northwestern
150 @ Arizona St. 186 @ Indiana
The way I have this listed makes it look like this comparison is pretty even, maybe with UAB having a slight advantage. However, I did compare their losses to Michigan’s 7 worst losses, so that distorts things a little. Michigan is 2-9 against the top 50, compared to 0-5 for UAB. Michigan is 5-2 against the RPI 51-100, compared to 7-1 for UAB. The difference in schedule strength makes comparisons difficult, since seven of Michigan’s games are against the top 20, compared to only one for UAB. However, they have about the same number of games against teams ranked 26-100. Against those teams, Michigan is 7-4, and UAB is 7-5, with Michigan having better wins and UAB having better losses when going by RPI. However, the RPI numbers in Conference USA are a little inflated, as #40 Southern Miss is not on the bubble at all, whereas #38 Illinois is fairly safely in the tournament unless they implode in the next two weeks. UAB only has one win over a team anywhere near the tournament (VCU, in Lunardi’s “next four out”). Among Michigan’s wins are the win at MSU (in the tournament), against Harvard (in if they beat Princeton, and currently about a 13 seed), and at Clemson, who is equivalent to VCU in bubble status. Based on better wins, the comparison should go to Michigan.
Again, the point of these comparisons is not to suggest that Michigan belongs in the NCAA field. However, it does show how close Michigan is, not just to a team that is on the bubble, but to a team that may be above the last four in. The bubble is so large and so fluid at this point that two good wins (like beating Minnesota and MSU) or a single not-so-good loss (like BC losing to Miami (YTM)) can move a team up or down 5 to 10 spots in the famed S-curve. We don't need to (and really can't) match the record of the 2008-09 team, we just need a few more good wins. If Michigan wins their last two, a win in the BTT quarterfinals should be enough to get to the NCAA tournament.