"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

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Seeding Primer, with Special Guest Marquette

Marquette's NCAA Resume
 Screenshot from WarrenNolan.com

I have been getting feedback about Marquette's current seed range, particularly0 why Marquette is behind Seton Hall on the S-Curve despite the season sweep. Let's dig into Marquette's position and where they could get. I apologize in advance, this is going to get a little nerdy.

When it comes to seeding the most reliable measure is found by taking the average of two different averages. When you look at a team sheet, in the upper left corner, there are 5 metrics provided. The Result-Based metrics are the Kevin Pauga Index and Strength of Record, shortened to KPI and SOR. The Predictive metrics are the Basketball Power Index, Pomeroy rank, and Sagarin Rating, shortened to BPI, POM, and SAG.

For Marquette, their Result-Based average uses the 30 KPI score and 37 SOR score for an average of 33.5. Their Predictive average uses the 52 BPI, 41 POM, and 44 SAG for an average of 45.7. Using those numbers, you can find what I call the RAP (Results And Predictive) score of 39.6. When you line those numbers up against the entire field, the RAP score predicts teams within one seed line 85% of the time. Let's look at the RAP scores of teams around Marquette:

NET Team R Avg P Avg RAP X Seed
33 North Carolina 27.5 28.3 27.9 7
34 USC 24 34.7 29.35 7
29 San Diego St. 32.5 27.3 29.9 7
31 Michigan 35 25.7 30.35 7
32 Seton Hall 29 32.3 30.65 8
40 Michigan St. 27.5 35.3 31.4 8
35 Memphis 40.5 25.7 33.1 8
24 San Francisco 39 28.3 33.65 8
28 Colorado St. 22 49 35.5 9
23 Murray St. 31 40.7 35.85 9
30 Boise St. 34 40.3 37.15 9
25 Loyola Chicago 48.5 28 38.25 9
38 Marquette 33.5 45.7 39.6 10
39 Wake Forest 46 35.3 40.65 10
41 Iowa St. 37.5 45 41.25 10
46 TCU 39 44.7 41.85 10

This shows pretty clearly why a number of bracketologists would have Seton Hall ahead of Marquette. Head-to-head only matters if it's close, and a 9 point RAP gap isn't exactly close. Marquette on the 8 line is seeded 2 lines ahead of where they are expected to be at, which would make them a positive outlier to that 85% figure listed above.

If you want to look deeper into these, I recommend either the team sheets from Warren Nolan or the Team Sheet Ranks on Bart Torvik's site. While I'm a huge Marquette fan, the members of the Selection Committee are not and their seeding will come down to math and resume, not emotion. I'd love to see a 7-seed or even 6-seed on Selection Sunday, but in my opinion the numbers say they have work to do to get there.

So what work is that? The RAP score is what the computers think of you, but the Selection Committee also looks at Quadrant records and Road/Neutral records. Quadrant 1A games are big feathers in the cap if you win and don't hurt much if you lose. Quadrant 1+2 record is how you played against postseason caliber teams. Quadrant 3+4 losses are the bad ones that can drag you down. Finally, Road/Neutral record shows how you play away from your home gym, which all NCAA games are. We're also looking mainly at Marquette and teams ahead of them on the S-Curve, because the discussion is about moving up. The teams here are ordered by current S-Curve position. I added in Iowa and Ohio State, as they are the last 6 and first 7, for context. The reason they are ahead and didn't show up on the last list is because their RAP scores are much better, at 22.65 and 25.1, respectively. Here's the comparison:

S-Curve Team Q1A Q1/2 Q3/4 Ls R/N
23 USC 1-3 9-5 1 12-3
24 Iowa 2-5 8-9 0 7-6
25 Ohio St. 3-4 10-9 1 6-7
26 Colorado St. 1-1 12-3 1 10-3
27 Seton Hall 2-6 9-9 0 7-6
28 San Diego St. 1-3 8-7 0 7-6
29 Murray St. 1-1 5-1 1 15-2
30 Marquette 4-5 10-11 0 6-8
31 Michigan St. 4-7 11-10 1 8-8
32 North Carolina 2-5 5-7 1 8-6

The reason Marquette is as high as they are is their 4 Q1A wins. That's a big number for a team as far down the S-Curve as they are, and it is a differentiator with other teams in the 8-12 range that has them near the top of that group despite their RAP score. The areas they can still improve in the Big East Tournament are the Q1+2 record and the Road/Neutral record. It's important to note the timeline for the Selection Committee. As of this writing, the top-16 is probably mostly set. Wednesday and Thursday will be spent hammering out the field. That is largely the reason that I don't put much stock in Championship Week results, even on the bubble, because as we noted last year teams are more likely to fall out with bid thieves or a particularly poor performance than they are to play their way in with a good one.

If the Protected Seeds and the bubble are mostly set, it's the middle of the field, the 6-10 range, that has the most opportunity to move. That said, I don't think there's room for a team to move much more than one seed line, largely because the S-Curve will be mostly set by Saturday, before games like the Big East Tournament final are played. But if Marquette were to notch a Q2 win over Creighton and Q1 win in the semifinal, suddenly they have a 12-11 Q1+2 record and an 8-8 Road/Neutral record, which combined with the 4 (possibly 5) Q1A wins they would have at that point could move them up to a 7-seed. I will also be clear that I don't think 1-1 will do anything for them. It would be a case of moving ahead an inch, then back an inch. I believe Marquette has to be playing Saturday night to see their seed improve.

I will also note that a few great bracketologists, such as Kevin Pulsipher, One Man Committee, and Dave Omman are both generally better at this stuff and higher on Marquette (7-seed) than I am, so if they are right, it's possible a 6-seed could also be in play. Let's get on with the full S-Curve:


2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-VILLANOVA 6-Kansas 5-Auburn

3-Seeds: 9-Tennessee 10-PURDUE 11-Texas Tech 12-Illinois

4-Seeds: 16-Arkansas 15-Providence 14-Wisconsin 13-Ucla

5-Seeds: 17-Connecticut 18-Alabama 19-HOUSTON 20-Texas

6-Seeds: 24-Iowa 23-Usc 22-Lsu 21-St. Mary's

7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-COLORADO STATE 27-Seton Hall 28-San Diego State

8-Seeds: 32-North Carolina 31-Michigan State 30-Marquette 29-MURRAY STATE

9-Seeds: 33-Boise State 34-Iowa State 35-San Francisco 36-Memphis

10-Seeds: 40-DAVIDSON 39-Miami 38-Tcu 37-Wake Forest

11-Seeds: 41-Creighton 42-Michigan 43-Vcu 44-Xavier 45-Wyoming







Last Four Byes: VCU, Creighton, Michigan, Wake Forest

Last Four In: Xavier, Wyoming, SMU, Notre Dame

Not Dead Yet: Rutgers, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma

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