"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

Monday, February 03, 2020

Big East Win Targets

I saw an interesting statistic on social media today. The top-5 NET rated teams in the AAC have 3 combined Quadrant 1 wins. My immediate thought was "DePaul has more than that on their own." I decided to compare the top-5 AAC resumes to the bottom-5 Big East resumes and found that 4 of the bottom 5 Big East teams have as many Q1 wins as the top-5 of the AAC and the five teams combined have 5 TIMES as many Q1 wins as those AAC teams. Here's that breakdown:

Team Q1A Q1A Q1B Q1B
Houston @ 38 Wichita @ 75 S. Carolina
Wichita  (None)
Cincy  (None)
Memphis @ 70 Tennessee
Tulsa  (None)
Xavier @ 17 Seton Hall @ 67 TCU
Georgetown vs 14 Creighton @ 72 SMU @ 73 St. John's
DePaul vs 12 Butler @ 24 Iowa vs 30 Tx Tech @ 44 Minnesota
Providence @ 12 Butler @ 25 Marquette @ 59 DePaul
St. John's (N) 8 Arizona vs 9 WVU @ 59 DePaul

What does that mean? When it comes to teams on the bubble, the Big East teams have a greater margin for error than other teams. Here are the main reasons why:

1. Everyone is top-75 in NET*: This means every road game is in Quadrant 1 and every home game is at worst in Quadrant 2. There are no bad losses and all wins are good. No other league can make that claim.

2. Everyone has Q1A & multiple Quadrant 1 wins: Aside from the AAC, bubble teams like St. Mary's, VCU, Mississippi State, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Liberty, Notre Dame, Syracuse, TCU, St. Louis, NC State, and Tennessee have zero combined Q1A wins. The competition has fewer Q1 wins in the bank & fewer opportunities to add them.
3. Established criteria from last year favors these teams: Last year, no team with 7+ Q1 wins and no team with 12+ Q1/2 wins missed the tournament. The Q1/2 requisite drops to 11 for any team with 2 or fewer losses outside Q1.
4. The bubble is weaker than last year: Last year ASU and SJU got in with 11 or fewer Q1/2 wins and 5+ Q2 or worse losses. Teams like BYU, St. Mary's, Houston, Rhode Island, Tulsa, Virginia Tech, Liberty, Notre Dame, Syracuse, St. Louis, and VCU cannot reach 11 Q1+2 wins even if they win out. Mississippi State, Florida, Alabama, Memphis, TCU, Cincinnati, Minnesota, NC State, Wichita State, Houston, Purdue, Virginia, and Tennessee could lose at most 3 more games to be worthy of last year's field. But the Selection Committee has to take 68, so multiple teams listed here will get in. As of this writing, 11 of these teams are in the composite field on bracketmatrix.com.

With that in mind, I decided to set a target number for each Big East team to earn a NCAA bid. Here we go, from the fewest to the most wins needed:

Seton Hall, Butler (1 win): Both SHU and Butler have 7 Q1 and 11 Q1+2 wins with no Q3/4 losses and no Q3/4 games left on the schedule. They are probably in. If they get one more win, which would respectively get SHU to 9-9 and Butler to 6-12, there's no doubt. Believe it or not, Butler's non-con strength would absolutely get them in at 18-13 (6-12) because there is zero chance a team with 7 Q1 and 12 Q1+2 wins with zero bad losses is getting left out. Bubble teams will not match those resumes.

Villanova, Creighton, Marquette (2 wins): Two wins would put Villanova and Creighton at 6 Q1 wins and 11 Q1+2 wins, but due to current resumes even the worst case scenario would give them only 1 Q2 loss. No team was left out last year with those quality wins and lack of bad losses. Marquette only has one Q2 game left on the schedule, so the two worst wins would still insure 5 Q1 and 12 Q1+2 wins with at worst 1 Q2 loss. That means Villanova would be a lock at 9-9 and both Creighton and Marquette would be a lock at 8-10. And remember, this is a weaker bubble, so matching last year is actually exceeding this year's requirements.

Xavier, Georgetown (5 wins): If they get the worst wins available, 5 wins would still give Xavier and Georgetown 11 Q1+2 wins and no more than 1 loss outside Q1. That locks both teams in at 8-10 in league play.

DePaul, Providence (6 wins): DePaul has losses outside Quadrant 1, but if they win 6 games it would give them 8 Q1 wins and 11 Q1+2. That would be more than either St. John's or Arizona State last year with fewer losses outside Q1. Yes, I believe the Blue Demons would get in at 7-11 in league play, though I'm less confident they can get to 7-11 in league play. Providence has a very different resume but the same win target. 6 wins would guarantee 7 Q1 and 12 Q1+2 wins and 11-7 in league. They do have 4 losses outside Q2, but they would have a superior resume to last year's ASU team in every regard, while more than doubling their Q1 win total.

St. John's (7 wins): I suspect 6 might do it because the Red Storm already have two excellent Q1A wins, but 7 would give them 7 Q1 and 11 Q1+2 wins with only 2 losses outside Q1. 8-10 would probably do it, but 9-9 St. John's would be a lock.

To illustrate why this is the case, here's a table that shows the current records by quadrant with 25 teams, including Marquette, the 5 aforementioned "bottom" Big East teams, and 19 teams on both sides of the bubble according to bracketmatrix.com:

Team Q1 Q2 Q3+4 Q1/2 Left Q1/2 Max Ws
Marquette 4-5 5-1 7-0 8 17
Xavier 2-7 3-1 9-0 9 14
Georgetown 2-8 4-1 7-0 9 15
DePaul 4-5 0-2 8-2 9 13
Providence 3-6 2-0 7-4 9 14
St. John's 3-7 1-2 9-1 8 12
St. Mary's 2-2 4-1 12-2 3 9
Texas Tech 2-8 2-0 9-0 9 13
BYU 1-4 4-3 11-0 2 7
Stanford 2-3 2-0 12-2 9 13
Florida 3-4 2-4 8-0 7 12
Oklahoma 2-6 5-1 7-0 10 17
URI 1-3 5-1 10-1 4 10
Memphis 1-3 4-1 11-1 6 11
VCU 1-4 2-2 13-0 4 7
Miss. State 1-5 3-0 10-2 7 11
Virginia 2-2 4-3 8-1 8 14
Purdue 2-8 3-1 7-1 9 14
Minnesota 3-8 2-2 6-0 7 12
Alabama 1-5 2-3 9-1 8 11
Cincinnati 0-4 6-0 8-3 6 12
NC State 2-3 3-3 9-2 7 12
ASU 2-6 3-2 8-0 6 11
Utah State 2-4 1-2 12-1 2 5
Virgina Tech 2-5 3-2 9-1 6 11

This simply tells us that Big East teams have more margin for error. The Big East teams simply have more quality wins already on the resume and more Q1/2 chances than almost anyone else (bear in mind those other teams all have additional Q3/4 games).

My expectation for the league at this point is a minimum of 5 teams getting in and a maximum of 8 getting in. But at this point, everyone is still alive and the only team in the league that needs a winning conference record to get in is Providence. That's the benefit of playing in an incredibly strong top-to-bottom league. Here's this week's S-Curve:

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

Last Four Byes: Oklahoma, Xavier, St. Mary's, Rhode Island
Last Four In: Florida, Memphis, Georgetown, Arizona State

NIT 1-Seeds: Virginia Tech, Richmond, Minnesota, Purdue
NIT 2-Seeds: St. John's, East Tennessee State, DePaul, VCU

Multi-bid Conferences
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Pac-12: 6
Big 12: 5
SEC: 5
American: 4
ACC: 3
WCC: 3
A-10: 2

*Editing Note: During the writing of this article, the NET updated and St. John's fell to 76, one spot out of the cutoff to be a Q1 home opponent and Q2 away opponent. The second table reflects this. The author apologizes for this change, but life happens.

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