"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

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Breaking: NCAA Team Sheet Change

When the NCAA came out with the Quadrant system, it was designed to make game analysis more transparent. Instead of simply looking at top-50 or top-100 wins & sub-300 losses, it took into account where games were played. There were four categories created. These were the criteria for the original Quadrants based on location and the ranking (RPI in 2018, NET in 2019) of the opponent played:

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 136-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161+, Neutral 201+, Away 241+

On January 20, 2019, the NCAA divided Quadrants 1 and 2 into two further classifications. While everyone else was watching the NFL Conference Championship games, I happened to be looking at NCAA Team Sheets (because that's just what I do for fun) & noticed this change. The Team Sheets do not have any different named classification for the Quadrant divisions, but there are clear divisions on the team sheets as well as numerically defined criteria that divide the top two Quadrants. As the NCAA didn't give them names, I have labeled them A & B. Here are the new criteria, with the changes exclusive to the first two Quadrants:

Quadrant 1A: Home 1-15, Neutral 1-25, Away 1-40
Quadrant 1B: Home 16-30, Neutral 26-50, Away 41-75
Quadrant 2A: Home 31-55, Neutral 51-75, Away 76-100
Quadrant 2B: Home 56-75, Neutral 76-100, Away 101-135

The bifurcation of the first two Quadrants into A & B games could be very significant, especially when it comes to analyzing high-major to mid-major teams for NCAA Selection.

When I'm looking at a resume, I place a little extra value on top-30 wins when evaluating teams. The reason for that is because going into January 20, when you defeat a top-30 team, that game is going to be Quadrant 1 no matter where it is played. It doesn't matter if you play NET #28 Villanova at the Pavilion, in Orlando, or on your home floor, you know that will be a Quadrant 1 game.

By dividing Quadrant 1 into an A & B classification, the only teams that meet the Quadrant 1A criteria are top-15 teams. Further, getting Q1A road wins becomes more difficult because there are fewer teams that are in that category & they are concentrated into a smaller number of conferences.

Currently, 80% of the teams that meet that Quadrant 1A classification on any court come from just four leagues. The ACC, Big 10, Big 12, & SEC make up 12 of the top 15 teams. The other three teams are Gonzaga, Houston, & Buffalo. That means teams in the Big East, Pac-12, & all other conferences have zero remaining opportunities for Q1A wins at home as the NET is currently configured. But it's not just the home games where that stands out. If you include the Big East and Pac-12 as the two other generally recognized high-major conferences, 82.5% of the road game opportunities for Q1A games are in those top six leagues. Just 7 of the top-40 teams reside outside those top six leagues, as opposed to 17 of the teams in the 41-75 range.

What that means is teams outside the top six leagues in college basketball just saw more than a 70.8% reduction in the number of teams that qualify as being potential opponents in the highest recognized category on the NCAA Team Sheets. While this could have an adverse affect on teams in the Big East (who now have zero home opportunities at Q1A wins & just two road opportunities at Q1A wins, at Marquette & Villanova) it could potentially be even more damaging to teams in leagues that don't generally put more than 1-2 teams in the tournament.

There are two other changes to the sheet. The NCAA added the future schedule, breaking games down into the Quadrants in which they will appear, and also added the dates of both current and future games. The former makes it easy to see just how many (or in Nevada's case, how few) opportunities teams have at quality wins. The latter could be even more significant because it allows an easier reference as to when a team got their best wins. In the past, the NCAA has said they value a win in November just as much as a win in March, but by putting the date on the Team Sheet, it will allow Selection Committee members to more easily consider the notion of the "hot team". For instance, Marquette currently has just two Q1A victories, their home win over Buffalo & the neutral court over Louisville. Now that the team sheets includes "1221" & "1123" as the dates, is it easier to dismiss that because of how long ago the games will have happened when Selection Sunday rolls around? And because of the concentration of Q1A opportunities to the top-six leagues, will it potentially diminish the value of those top-tier wins by mid-major schools that earned their best victories with dates in November & December?

It remains to be seen how this will impact selection & seeding, but it's hard to imagine this isn't potentially a very significant development for both as March draws closer.

Nevada comes to mind above all others. Their win at Fresno State was their only Quadrant 1 win, but it is now relegated to Quadrant 1B. They only had one other shot at a Q1 win, at Utah State, which is also a Q1B game. Their seven Quadrant 2 wins have been almost equally divided with 4 in Quadrant 2A & 3 in Quadrant 2B. That simple change makes their resume look even less impressive, & only having one Q1B & one Q2B game left on the schedule means they can't improve on it by much. I still think a 4-loss (3 regular season, 1 MWC tourney) Nevada team will be on the bubble, but now even if they do get in I have to believe this could negatively affect their seeding.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The High Risk Game of Luck

Watching Marquette win another nail-biter over Georgetown coupled with Andrei Greska's article at Paint Touches about why the computer metrics aren't high on Marquette got me thinking about this team's future. After reading the article, I was thinking a lot about last year's Xavier team, which had some striking similarities to this year's Marquette. Both teams were ranked highly in the AP & Coaches' polls but weren't ranked as highly by computer metrics such as Pomeroy, Sagarin, and Torvik.

These teams shared some hallmarks. Both had a number of close wins. During the regular season, Xavier was 8-0 in games decided by 5 or fewer points while Marquette is currently 5-0 in such games. While neither team lost often, their losses were by big margins. Xavier had an average losing margin of 16.3 ppg with a minimum loss differential of -9 while Marquette has an average losing margin of 17.3 ppg with an identical minimum loss differential of -9.

The third thing that stood out was both teams were ranked high in kenpom's "Luck" category. Xavier was the #1 luckiest team in the country while Marquette currently checks in at #26. According to Pomeroy, Luck "is the deviation in winning percentage between a team’s actual record and their expected record using the correlated gaussian method. The luck factor has nothing to do with the rating calculation, but a team that is very lucky (positive numbers) will tend to be rated lower by my system than their record would suggest."

In my most recent Cracked Sidewalks S-Curve, Marquette checks in as the #12 team in the curve and the last 3-seed. Based on Marquette's current Pomeroy rating of 36, they are overslotted by 24 positions. To figure that out, I simply multiplied the seed by 4 (4 teams per line) & subtracted the seed value from the Pomeroy rank. I looked at similarly overseeded teams over the past 5 years. My criteria were teams with top-50 Luck ratings, seeding disparities of 10+ positions in the S-Curve, & using only teams of at-large quality because sometimes auto-bid winners have to be overseeded just to fill the field.


Year Team Luck Rank Kenpom Rank Seed Line Overseed Value Result
2018 Xavier 1 14 1 10 2nd Round Loss
2017 Maryland 39 43 6 19 1st Round Loss
2017 Seton Hall 43 51 9 15 1st Round Loss
2016 Utah 9 28 3 16 2nd Round Loss
2016 Temple 17 90 10 50 1st Round Loss
2015 Maryland 2 32 4 16 2nd Round Loss
2015 Oregon 5 46 8 14 2nd Round Loss
2014 Colorado 3 68 8 36 1st Round Loss
2014 Massachusetts 40 50 8 18 1st Round Loss
2014 Iowa State 43 24 3 12 Sweet 16 Loss
2014 NC State 39 66 12 18 2nd Round Loss

A few things stand out. First, you have to go back 5 years to find any of these teams that overperformed their seed (2014 NC State). Second, only one of these teams made it out of the first weekend, though the team played to seed (2014 Iowa State). For the most part, teams that get into the tournament by winning close games and losing in blowout fashion tend to have their luck catch up with them on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. I can see that being something to make Marquette fans nervous as we get closer to Selection Sunday.

However, if we go back one year further, there is a reason for hope. In 2013, there was a team that ranked 11th in luck, was ranked 25th going into Selection Sunday, and was overseeded by 13 when they were placed as a 3-seed. Their luck held, winning two games on the final possession before making it to the Elite Eight and being the last team to overperform their seed under these criteria. So who was that lucky team? None other than Marquette.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

S-Curve Update, January 15

The most notable change to the S-Curve is Duke falling from the top line & second overall seed down to the the two-line. It was difficult not to drop them further as they are one of only two teams on the top three lines with a Quadrant 2 loss, though they still have five Quadrant 1 victories, a total only exceeded by Kansas, the other top-3 seed with a Q2 loss. Texas Tech replaces the Blue Devils on the 1-line. I was wary of Chris Beard's team earlier because their gaudy record was mostly built on a soft schedule, but they've added two wins in both Quadrants 1 & 2 in league play, showing so far that they are legit.

The Big East took some big hits this week. Marquette stands firm at 12 as there just wasn't enough movement ahead of them to move them up. Villanova moved up one line to a 5-seed and Seton  Hall stayed in about the same place, but St. John's tumbled 5 lines after their loss to DePaul while Butler's loss to Xavier dropped them out of the field, leaving the league with only 4 teams in our S-Curve. Creighton also took a hit by missing a home opportunity at their first Quadrant 1 win against Villanova. I could still see the Big East getting as many as 6 teams in, but if the middle & bottom beats up on itself, 3 is also a possibility. Here's the field:

1-Seeds: 1-MICHIGAN, 2-VIRGINIA, 3-TENNESSEE, 4-TEXAS TECH
2-Seeds: 8-Michigan State, 7-Duke, 6-Kansas, 5-GONZAGA
3-Seeds: 9-Oklahoma, 10-Houston, 11-North Carolina, 12-Marquette
4-Seeds: 16-Kentucky, 15-Maryland, 14-Virginia Tech, 13-BUFFALO
5-Seeds: 17-Nebraska, 18-NEVADA, 19-VILLANOVA, 20-N.C. State
6-Seeds: 24-Florida State, 23-Iowa, 22-Mississippi, 21-Louisville
7-Seeds: 25-Purdue, 26-Auburn, 27-Indiana, 28-Iowa State
8-Seeds: 32-Ohio State, 31-Minnesota, 30-Lsu, 29-Wisconsin
9-Seeds: 33-Mississippi State, 34-ARIZONA, 35-Seton  Hall, 36-Temple
10-Seeds: 40-WOFFORD, 39-Syracuse, 38-St. John's, 37-Tcu
11-Seeds: 41-UCF, 42-Kansas State, 43-Texas, 44-LIPSCOMB
12-Seeds: 50-MURRAY STATE, 49-ST. LOUIS, 48-Vcu/47-Washington, 46-Cincinnati/45-Arizona State
13-Seeds: 51-HOFSTRA, 52-VERMONT, 53-RADFORD, 54-UC IRVINE
14-Seeds: 58-RIDER, 57-UTSA, 56-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE, 55-GEORGIA STATE
15-Seeds: 59-DETROIT, 60-VALPARAISO, 61-BUCKNELL, 62-PRINCETON
16-Seeds: 68-NORFOLK STATE/67-UMKC, 66-SAM HOUSTON STATE/65-WAGNER, 64-PRAIRIE VIEW A&M, 63-NORTHERN COLORADO

Last Four In: Arizona State, Cincinnati, Washington, VCU
Last Four Byes: St. John's, Syracuse, Kansas State, Texas

NIT 1-Seeds (First Four Out): Florida, Butler, Furman, San Francisco
NIT 2-Seeds (Next Four Out): Pittsburgh, Creighton, Utah State, Alabama

Multi-bid Conferences
Big 10: 10
ACC: 8
Big 12: 7
SEC: 6
American: 4
Big East: 4
Pac-12: 3
Atlantic 10: 2

One team that is really surprising of late is Jeff Capel's Pittsburgh Panthers. They are still currently on the outside looking in due to an ugly home loss to sub-300 Niagara. Outside that game, however, they have a very respectable resume. If they can get to 9-9 in league play they will definitely be a team to watch come Selection Sunday. That will be a tough ask, though, as Pomeroy has them as underdogs in 11 of their remaining 14 games.

Two wins and a cardiac screening, big week for #mubb

I'm assuming everyone has recovered from that crazy Creighton finish and the too close for comfort Seton Hall victory....no, oh well we're here to revisit it anyway. So we're going to talk the crazy Creighton win and how what we are most thankful in that is getting another exquisite Markus Howard performance. Also talk about how this team is demonstrating a different mental attitude than seasons past and what that means going forward. We touch on the Seton Hall game and talk about the implications of losing Morrow for the short term (we hope) due to injury.We then turn to this week in basketball and preview the Georgetown game as well as the Providence game. We also definitely spend a considerable amount of time reliving the Dwyane Wade years as we look add to his day at the Fiserv against Providence. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/zeqjwg/scrambledeggs_editted_11419.mp3

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Putting MU No.12 in a Week of Upsets that is Hard to Predict

I claim no expertise in following how AP writers and coaches select their top 25 ballots, but looking through all the upsets this week, the incredible publicity from the Creighton game, and MU's past victims Louisville going into UNC for a blowout win and K-State pulling off two of the most impressive comebacks of the year - I'm pegging Marquette for No. 12 in my top 25 (with my next 10 listed for a top 35).

I put Villanova all the way up to 19th IF they win at Creighton this morning at 11 a.m. For whatever it is worth, here is my list with notes on how they performed this week with the kenpom ratings of oppoents noted, and then where each team was ranked last week in both polls as well as in the NET Ratings.

SCHOOLmy newPudner Notes on games - kenpom ratingsAPCoachesNet (Fri)
Duke1No changes in top 9, all solid122
Virginia2No changes in top 9, all solid411
Michigan3No changes in top 9, all solid243
Tennessee4No changes in top 9, all solid335
Michigan St.5No changes in top 9, all solid657
Texas Tech6No changes in top 9, all solid884
Gonzaga7No changes in top 9, all solid566
Virginia Tech8No changes in top 9, all solid9710
Kansas9No changes in top 9, all solid7911
Florida St.10beat Miami and heartbreak loss to Duke131319
Nevada11rebounded with 2 wins101127
Marquette12win at 37 Creighton and vs 46 Seton Hall that beat Kentucky, and LOTS of publicity211921
Auburn13loss at 30 Ole Miss doesn't look that bad after Miss then won at Miss State, then killed 91 Crean's Georgia111024
North Carolina14won at 25 NC State, but destroyed at home by MU victim 26 Louisville12128
Kentucky15home wins vs 88 Texas A&M and 83 Vanderbilt, but with MU wins more impressive could pass181812
Buffalo16won home vs 69 Toledo and 181 Miami, but with no teams left between them and an MU team that beat them may pass192014
NC State17won at home vs 80 Pitt, but lost at home to 10 UNC who then was destroyed by MU victim Louisville151617
Oklahoma18lost at 8 Texas Tech, beat 22 TCU232215
Villanova19IF THEY BEAT CREIGHTON SUNDAY 11 AM - IF MOVE OTHERS UP. won at home vs St Johns262729
Houston20lost at 71 Temple, at home 9 pt win vs 129 Wichita17159
Iowa21won at 57 NW and home 29 Ohio State282535
Maryland22won at 52 MN and home vs 23 Indiana325020
Ole Miss232 big wins 11 Auburn and at 28 Miss State505028
Louisville24lost at 79 Pitt in OT, destroyed 10 UNC on road365032
Purdue25lost at 3 Michigan State, at 14 Wisconsin305018
UCF26won home 71 Temple, at 83 Uconn 353031
Kansas St.27won vs 66 West Virginia, at 17 Iowa State433753
Wisconsin28won at 58 Penn State, lost home 16 Purdue272622
Seton Hall29beat 39 Butler lost at 33 Marquette333245
Florida30won at 55 Arkansas, lost home 5 Tennessee395039
TCU312 road losses to good team252834
LSU32beat 66 Bama, then on road best 55 Arkansas505025
Mississippi St.33lost at 113 South Carolina and home vs 30 Mississippi141430
Ohio St.34lost at 112 Rutgers and 35 Iowa161736
Indiana352 road losses to good team222423

Thursday, January 10, 2019

S-Curve Update: January 10

We have a new S-Curve after Marquette's incredible comeback against Creighton. There have been some changes now that conference play has kicked off. Conference rankings are being used for auto-bids with one exception; Nevada was considered the MWC Champ because at this point, that league does not seem worthy of two bids. As usual, all bids are based on resume and not projections. This is about what you've done, not what people think you might do.

1-Seeds: 1-Michigan, 2-Duke, 3-Virginia, 4-TENNESSEE
2-Seeds: 8-Kansas, 7-MICHIGAN STATE, 6-Gonzaga, 5-TEXAS TECH
3-Seeds: 9-North Carolina, 10-Houston, 11-Oklahoma, 12-Marquette
4-Seeds: 16-Florida State, 15-VIRGINIA TECH, 14-BUFFALO, 13-Indiana
5-Seeds: 17-Kentucky, 18-Wisconsin, 19-St. John's, 20-Maryland
6-Seeds: 24-NEVADA, 23-VILLANOVA, 22-Nebraska, 21-Iowa State

7-Seeds: 25-Iowa, 26-Louisville, 27-Mississippi, 28-Ohio State
8-Seeds: 32-Mississippi State, 31-Purdue, 30-Auburn, 29-North Carolina State
9-Seeds: 33-TCU, 34-LSU, 35-Minnesota, 36-Seton Hall
10-Seeds: 40-Texas, 39-UCF, 38-VCU, 37-ARIZONA
11-Seeds: 41-Temple, 42-Arizona State, 43-Syracuse/44-Butler, 45-Furman/46-Alabama
12-Seeds: 50-LIPSCOMB, 49-WOFFORD, 48-MURRAY STATE, 47-SAN FRANCISCO
13-Seeds: 51-RADFORD, 52-VERMONT, 53-HOFSTRA, 54-NORTH TEXAS
14-Seeds: 58-UC SANTA BARBARA, 57-GRAND CANYON, 56-MONTANA, 55-GEORGIA STATE
15-Seeds: 59-TEXAS SOUTHERN, 60-LEHIGH, 61-RIDER, 62-VALPARAISO
16-Seeds: 68-NORFOLK STATE/67-SACRED HEART, 66-SAM HOUSTON STATE/65-PURDUE FORT WAYNE, 64-GREEN BAY, 63-PRINCETON

Last Four In: Syracuse, Butler, Furman, Alabama
Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Texas, Temple, Arizona State

NIT 1-Seeds: Florida, Cincinnati, Creighton, St. Louis
NIT 2-Seeds: Kansas State, Clemson, Utah State, Washington

Also Considered: Fresno State, Pittsburgh, Oregon, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Baylor, Belmont, Georgetown, Northwestern, Missouri

Multi-bid conferences
Big 10: 10
ACC: 8
SEC: 7
Big 12: 6
Big East: 5
American: 3
Pac-12: 2
Southern: 2
West Coast: 2

Despite the win, Marquette falls from the top of the 3-line to the bottom since our last S-Curve. It was close between them and Indiana, but ultimately Marquette's better wins & no Quadrant 2 losses kept them as a 3-seed.

Nevada plummeted due to their awful loss at New Mexico. Their resume just doesn't have enough heft to keep them on the 2-line. If the Wolfpack takes 2-3 more losses and doesn't win their conference tournament, they could be the St. Mary's of this year, missing out entirely with an incredibly gaudy record. They haven't played a Quadrant 1 game yet & only get two chances in league play, on the road at Utah State & Fresno State. The highest seed to fall out of the bracket entirely was Cincinnati, who went from a 7-seed to the NIT. Like Nevada, there's just not enough meat on their resume to offset their bad loss to East Carolina.

Maryland was the highest debut in the S-Curve, going from the first team out all the way to the 5-line, thanks to a 4-0 record since the last post with three wins over teams in the field. The Terps reinforce an incredibly strong Big 10 field.

The Big East drops from 6 to 5 teams as Creighton falls out, but both Villanova and St. John's moved up significantly. The league will offer plenty of road opportunities for Quadrant 1 wins and while there likely won't be any teams on the top two lines, I think it's a good bet that there could be 3-4 teams with 7-seeds or better come Selection Sunday.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Ya win some, ya lose some, and ya get a new commit

It wasn't the week of #mubb basketball we were hoping for, but it certainly could have been worse. Having returned from New Year's we work backwards as we discuss the some what disjointed victory over Xavier before spending some time picking apart the shockingly lopsided lose to St John's. We then talk about the up coming week of games, including breaking down whether there actually is something to the MU "road woes" and if it will impact the game against Creighton and if Seton Hall gives us any concern. We close out the podcast welcoming MU's newest recruit, Symir Torrence to the fold, analyzing whether he stays 2020 or reclassifies for 2019 and what all this means in terms of needs for the next couple of recruiting classes. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/9229ay/scrambledeggs_editted_10619.mp3