"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

Thursday, March 11, 2021

3-Bid Big East?

Earlier this week, we investigated how history does not favor the "play your way in" narrative during Championship Week. That said, the Big East certainly didn't do itself any favors yesterday. First of all, after starting their day barely on the right side of the bubble, Xavier lost their first game. As we noted in that earlier piece, history does not often look favorably upon teams that do that. So can any of these Big East teams "play their way in"? I'm leaning no, but here are a few thoughts on the bubble teams:

Xavier: The X-Men's biggest problem is not the Q3 loss to Butler (everyone on the bubble seems to have one of those) but rather their 1-2 record in Quadrant 1. The Oklahoma win dropping to Q2 really hurts because there simply isn't a volume of high quality wins. Xavier's entire resume is effectively home wins over Creighton and Oklahoma. Had they played Villanova twice and traveled to Seton Hall and UConn, going 2-2 in those four games, I'd feel better about having them in. For now, they stay in the field simply because no one has stolen their bid, but they will be the first team I knock out if it becomes necessary.

St. John's: The Johnnies have the Villanova and UConn wins, which are nice, but too many of their wins are in Q3+4 and the two Q3 losses are bad. The metrics also don't help St. John's as they are sub-60 in 5 of the 6 metrics used by the Selection Committee. Unfortunately for St. John's, where I think they really come up short is in Q4. I don't expect anyone to talk about this, but Q4 is absolutely why St. John's is not in my field right now. Why? The main reason is two single possession games in Q4. But when you look at metrics, margin of victory plays a big part. When you play inferior teams, you are supposed to beat them badly (see Colgate) and the metrics will reward you. Consider the following:

Team Q4 Games Total Games Q4 % Avg Q4 Margin
Louisville 2 20 10.0% 28.5
Xavier 3 21 33.3% 28
Mississippi 5 25 20.0% 27
Drake 11 27 40.7% 23.5
Colorado State 10 21 47.6% 21.6
Maryland 3 26 11.5% 21.3
St. John's 5 26 19.2% 12.4

This is the last six teams in the field. Teams like Louisville, Xavier, and Maryland did a good job of avoiding Q4 games, but when they played them, they won by large margins. Mississippi played a few more, but their margin of victory helped. Even the mid-majors that had to play those games in league helped themselves more with healthy margins of victory. St. John's, playing more of these than they should have compared to other high-majors and having a narrower margin of victory than anyone else here shot themselves in the analytic foot. Memo to Mike Anderson: If you're going to play Q4 games, run up the score. It matters, and it's why your team won't be in the NCAA Tournament.

Seton Hall: The Hall explanation is simple. Win more games. They stand at 13-12 and while 11/12 losses are in Q1+2, their 6-11 record in those quadrants isn't good enough, especially when the only win over a surefire tourney team is at UConn. While overall game inventory is down and may mean the normal unwritten rule of being +4 in the win column (18-14, 19-15, etc) might not be strictly adhered to, when you played 25 games and you're only +1, that won't do it. And even if they win two games and lose, does that tangibly change their resume? St. John's is already out with wins over Villanova and UConn, so why would that get the Pirates in if they managed to win two in the most ideal NET fashion? Quite simply, it wouldn't.

Here's the latest S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-BAYLOR 3-MICHIGAN 4-Illinois

2-Seeds: 8-Houston 7-Ohio State 6-ALABAMA 5-Iowa

3-Seeds: 9-Arkansas 10-Kansas 11-West Virginia 12-Oklahoma State

4-Seeds: 16-Purdue 15-VIRGINIA 14-Texas 13-VILLANOVA

5-Seeds: 17-Florida State 18-Tennessee 19-Usc 20-Byu

6-Seeds: 24-LOYOLA CHICAGO 23-Creighton 22-Connecticut 21-Texas Tech

7-Seeds: 25-Wisconsin 26-Clemson 27-OREGON 28-Colorado

8-Seeds: 32-ST BONAVENTURE 31-Oklahoma 30-Missouri 29-SAN DIEGO STATE

9-Seeds: 33-Lsu 34-Florida 35-Rutgers 36-Virginia Tech

10-Seeds: 40-Georgia Tech 39-Michigan State 38-Vcu 37-North Carolina

11-Seeds: 41-Ucla 42-Maryland 43-Louisville 44-WICHITA STATE

12-Seeds: 50-COLGATE 49-TOLEDO 48-Xavier 47-Mississippi 46-Colorado State 45-Drake





First Four Out: St. Louis, Boise State, Syracuse, SMU

Next Four Out: Memphis, Utah State, St. John's, Seton Hall

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