"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

Friday, February 21, 2020

Are 8 Big East Bids Possible?

At Christmas, we surmised about the possibility of the Big East setting a record for the highest percentage of teams to make the field, potentially surpassing the 77.8% of teams (7/9) that made the NCAA field from the Big East in 1991. At the time, we projected 9 teams in the field, but that was before league play started.

As usually happens to strong leagues, strong non-con resumes fall by the wayside as leagues cannibalize themselves. That happened to St. John's, who went from 11-2 in non league with two brilliant Quadrant 1A wins over West Virginia and Arizona to 3-10 in league. Two of those Johnnie wins came over DePaul, who were 12-1 in non-con before a miserable 1-12 start to league play and having a Big East Tournament title be their only route into the field of 68.

The one team that we had out in that Christmas projection was Providence, who has gone the opposite direction. While we don't have them in yet, it's a big yet as the Friars now have as many or more Quadrant 1 wins than 11 of the top-16 teams in the field. They did a ton of damage to their resume in November, but if the Selection Committee continues to value good wins over bad losses, Providence will have a chance. Let's take a look at the resumes of teams on the bubble:

Team NET Record Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Xavier 40 17-9 3-8 6-1 4-0 4-0
Georgetown 54 15-11 5-9 4-2 1-0 5-0
Indiana 59 17-9 5-7 2-2 4-0 6-0
Richmond 43 20-6 2-4 2-0 6-2 10-0
Utah State 41 20-7 2-4 2-2 6-1 10-0
Stanford 37 17-9 3-5 2-3 5-1 7-0
Arkansas 48 16-10 2-6 2-4 8-0 4-0
NC State 52 17-9 5-2 3-4 3-3 6-0
Providence 51 15-12 6-8 2-0 3-3 4-1
UNCG 60 20-6 2-2 1-2 5-1 12-1
Cincinnati 55 17-9 2-5 6-0 6-4 3-0
Alabama 44 14-12 2-6 4-4 5-2 3-0

First, I only included Xavier and Georgetown to show the difference between them and current bubble teams. Xavier is clearly ahead and likely needs just two more wins to move to lock status. Georgetown has a little more work to do, especially with a tougher schedule, and needs to go 3-2 the rest of the way to be assured a bid before heading to MSG.

Currently Stanford is our last team in. While Providence is back a little bit, they have more Quadrant 1 wins than anyone else on the bubble. Their losses look bad, but their 4 total losses outside Quadrant 1 are less than or equal to six of the 12 teams here. Considering how frequently bubble teams are taking losses, the Friars definitely have a shot. Let's compare them to some teams that made it into the field last year:

Team NET Record Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Florida '19 31 19-15 4-12 4-1 6-2 5-0
St. Mary's '19 32 22-11 2-6 3-3 8-2 9-0
Providence '20 51 15-12 6-8 2-0 3-3 4-1
Ohio State '19 55 19-14 4-10 5-3 5-1 5-0
Seton Hall '19 57 20-13 7-8 7-3 3-2 3-0
Arizona State '19 63 22-10 3-3 8-3 5-2 6-2
St. John's '19 73 21-12 5-7 5-3 3-2 8-0

Remember, all of the 2019 teams above were IN the field of 68. That was in a year with a stronger bubble than this year. Providence's NET is above average, their Quadrant 1 win total is higher than all but one of these teams. In fact, only one team last year (Indiana) was left out of the field with 6+ Quadrant 1 wins. Indiana's biggest flaw was their 17-15 overall record and 6 losses outside Quadrant 1. While Providence does have a number of Quadrant 3+4 losses it is no more than Arizona State and their loss total outside Quadrant 1 is equal to or lower than 5 of the 6 teams they are being compared to that made last year's field.

While it's still not likely--my gut tells me that six teams is more likely than eight at this point--it isn't impossible that the Big East could land a record 80% of their teams in the field this year, and the last team to get in would be the one team we wrote off for dead before the New Year.

Here's the full S-Curve:

2-Seeds: 8-Creighton 7-Duke 6-DAYTON 5-MARYLAND
3-Seeds: 9-Villanova 10-SETON HALL 11-Florida State 12-LOUISVILLE
4-Seeds: 16-Auburn 15-West Virginia 14-Oregon 13-KENTUCKY
5-Seeds: 17-Penn State 18-Butler 19-Michigan 20-Marquette
6-Seeds: 24-Arizona 23-Michigan State 22-Iowa 21-COLORADO
7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-Wisconsin 27-Byu 28-Illinois
8-Seeds: 32-Texas Tech 31-HOUSTON 30-Xavier 29-Lsu
9-Seeds: 33-Arizona State 34-Rhode Island 35-Rutgers 36-Wichita State
10-Seeds: 40-Florida 39-St. Mary's 38-Usc 37-Georgetown
11-Seeds: 41-Virginia 42-Oklahoma 43-EAST TENNESSEE STATE 44-Indiana/45-Richmond
12-Seeds: 50-VERMONT 49-YALE 48-NORTHERN IOWA 47-Stanford/46-Utah State

Last Four Byes: St. Mary's, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma
Last Four In: Indiana, Richmond, Utah State, Stanford

NIT 1-Seeds: Arkansas, NC State, Providence, UNC-Greensboro
NIT 2-Seeds: Cincinnati, Alabama, Mississippi State, Purdue

Multibid Leagues
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Pac 12: 6
Big 12: 5
SEC: 4
ACC: 4
WCC: 3
Atlantic 10: 3
American: 2
Mountain West: 2

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