"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Bad Win" in Season of "Good Losses"

In a season that has included impressive single digit losses at Xavier, Arizona State and Wisconsin, Marquette survived a one-point win at home against a Seton Hall team that is not in the top 100 at www.kenpom.com. Despite the disappointment so far this season, Marquette has the biggest gap between the possible ceiling and floor.

In the 18-game, balanced, Big East season Marquette has proven nothing good or bad. The team has only won the two easiest conference games of the season (beating both non-top 100 teams at home). However, the team has also only lost two of the three almost impossible games of the season in road games against the three elite teams to date (losing to Xavier and Creighton with Villanova left).

It appears MU would have the tall task of having to go 10-4 the rest of the way to enter the Big East tournament as a top 50 team in the RPI. Right now the only win over a team projected in the RPI top 50 - George Washington - but has six more chances including home games against Nova, Georgetown, Creighton and Xavier and road games against just the first two.

That is tough, but not impossible, and if MU can go 10-4 and split those six games to have four wins over top 50 teams, the streak of bids could continue due to finishing hot and some close road losses against good teams.

You may notice a banner on this page showing MU going the season with "no double digit losses" a few years ago. That was the result of me noting that in most cases a team that wins by single digits at home would have lost on the road. It is that big a swing. Based on the result, there is a good chance MU would have had wins if Arizona State, Xavier and 16-0 Wisconsin had come to the Bradley Center this year - but on the flip side one has to assume Seton Hall could have won today if the game was played in New Jersey.

If we count all single digit home wins as "ties" and only count games the Big East has played against Top 150 teams, that gives Marquette a 2-4-4 record. Villanova looks truly elite with a 9-1-1 mark that notes nine solid wins against the top 150, only the one loss at Syracuse, and then one shaky win (single digits at home) against Delaware. Creighton is almost as strong with a 7-2 mark that included no close home games either way.

Xavier and Georgetown do not look quite as solid as the top two as both have survived single digit home wins - Georgetown against fairly weak teams in Elon and DePaul while Xavier pulled them off against tougher teams from Marquette and Tennessee (Tennessee later did beat Xavier away from Cincinnati).

Here are the adjusted records and ratings of Big East teams if we count single digit home wins as a tie for both teams:

vs. Top 150WL H u 10%Homes team single digit wins
Villanova91186%barely beat Delaware
Creighton72078%No single digit home games
Xavier63264%barely beat Tenn, Marquette
Georgetown53260%barely beat Elon, DePaul
Providence54155%barely lost at Umass
Marquette24440%barely lost to Xavier, AZ St, WI, beat Seton Hall
St. Johns36135%barely beat Youngstown
Seton Hall13233%barely lost at Mercer, Marquette
DePaul26332%barely beat Wright St, lost to Ill St, Gtown
Butler26230%barely beat Princeton, Vanderbilt

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