national champs baby
The Top Performing Michigan Sports Teams: 1993 - 2011
Perhaps you, like I have wondered which Michigan sports teams have been the most successful over the past couple of decades. We all remember the national championships (well most of them anyhow), but does that success translate to the sort of consistent success needed to be considered the Champions of the Champions of the West?
Starting in the 1993-94 academic year, the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) began its Directors' Cup program. Using Directors' Cup points data, I quantified the performance over the past 18 years for each of Michigan's 27 varsity sports.
The first table shows teams ordered by average NACDA points earned since academic year 1993-94.
- The numerator in average points is the total Directors' Cup points accumulated by a given sport.
- Since NACDA caps the number of mens and womens sports a school can use toward the cup at 10 per each year, there are some years where Michigan teams placed high enough to earn points but no points were awarded. In such cases, I credited those teams with the same number of points awarded to other schools with identical place finishes.
- The denominator in average points is equal to the number of years in which MIchigan competed in the given sport. For most, that's 18 years. For some, it's fewer (e.g., Men's Soccer, 11 years).
- In 1997-98, the maximum points awarded for a championship was increased from 64 to 100. I did not adjust up scores from the earlier era because NACDA's formulas are based on the number of schools participating in NCAA regional and finals championships and those numbers have changed for numerous sports over the years. As such, I decided it was better to keep the points awarded consistent with NACDA data.
- In 1997-98 NACDA awarded Michigan 2nd place points for (then) I-A Football. I adjusted that to 1st place points and awarded them 100 vice 80 points.
With all that in mind, here are the results in tabular form:
|Rank||Team||Avg NACDA Points|
Women's Gymnastics, Men's Swimming, Men's Wrestling, and Men's Ice Hockey lead the pack.
In addition to the average points metric, I looked at performance year-to-year. Here are a few examples of top performing programs and one that has had some struggles.
Note: The 1995-96 Natl Championship team earned 64 points while the 1997-98 Natl Championship team earned 100 points.
Yes, Football earned NACDA points last season.
Brutal. Just brutal.
(Much more after the jump.)
The Directors' Cup points recognize a team's performance in NCAA tournaments and FInal FBS Football rankings. Another way to measure team success is by the number of conference and national championships earned, because such wins accrue significant additional program prestige (and bragging rights). I counted one championship per team per year for a regular season and/or conference tournament championship.
Here is the data in tabular form on how Michigan teams did in those two areas.
|Rank||Team||Conf Champs||Rank||Team||Natl Champs|
|1||W. GYM||16||1||M. IHoc||2|
|2||W. SB||14||1||M. GYM||2|
|3||M. IHoc||13||3||M. SW||1|
|4||W. WP||10||3||W. SB||1|
|5||W. FH||9||3||FBS FB||1|
|6||M. SW||8||NA||W. FH||1|
|7||W. SW||7||NA||W. GYM||0|
|7||W. CC||7||NA||M. WR||0|
|7||W. IT&F||7||NA||W. SW||0|
|10||W. OT&F||6||NA||W. CC||0|
|11||FBS FB||5||NA||W. IT&F||0|
|12||M. Bsb||5||NA||M. IT&F||0|
|13||W. Row||4||NA||M. CC||0|
|14||M. GYM||3||NA||W. Ten||0|
|14||W. Ten||3||NA||W. Row||0|
|16||M. CC||2||NA||W. OT&F||0|
|16||W. SOC||2||NA||W. VB||0|
|18||M. IT&F||1||NA||M. OT&F||0|
|18||M. OT&F||1||NA||M. Ten||0|
|18||M. Ten||1||NA||W. SOC||0|
|18||M. SOC||1||NA||M. Golf||0|
|NA||M. WR||0||NA||M. SOC||0|
|NA||W. VB||0||NA||W. Golf||0|
|NA||M. Golf||0||NA||M. BB||0|
|NA||W. Golf||0||NA||W. WP||0|
|NA||M. BB||0||NA||M. Bsb||0|
|NA||W. BB||0||NA||W. BB||0|
Not surprisingly, many of the same culprits. But there are some teams that have had significant conference championship success that hasn't translated into tremendous Director's Cup success.
In the following table, I created a Conference Championship Points metric (number of conference championships won divided by number of years competed multiplied by 100) and awarded 10 bonus points for each of Michigan's 8 national championships during this period. When combined with Average NACDA Points, a total point value for Michigan sports team excellence is at hand.
Note: Men's Basketball vacated its 1998 Big Ten Tourament championship due to NCAA violations so they are not credited with a conference championship during this period.
|Rank||Team||Avg NACDA Points||Conf Champ Points||Natl Champ Points||Total|
It's hard to argue against Women's Gymnastics as the top performing Michigan sports team over the past 18 years. That said, Ice Hockey and Softball are not far behind due to their consistent success and their national championships. Those three programs are clearly Michigan's top performers.
The second grouping of teams seems to be Men's Swimming & Diving and Women's Water Polo (mostly on the strength of their dominance of their division over the past decade). The third grouping: Women's Field Hockey, Women's Swimming & Diving and Men's Gymnastics. The fouth grouping: Women's Cross Country, Football, and Women's Indoor Track & Field. Bringing up the rear are Women's Golf, Men's Basketball and the worst performing sport of all, Women's Basketball. Water Polo and Baseball were the teams that were helped the most by the inclusion of the conference championship metric. Without that addition to the formula, both of those teams would have finished significantly lower.
Here's the chart.
Your comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome. If you're a statistician, speak in layman's terms.