"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 28, 2022

NMD was a success, now on to #DLTD week

Welcome back #mubb, we hope you enjoyed National Marquette Day! We are back to talk about the game against Butler and any conclusions that we can draw from such a game. We then turn to the week ahead which features a frisky DePaul team and a St Johns match up that will be frenetic at worst. We close out the pod looking ahead to BET and Selection Sunday. Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/5rsf4e/ScrambledEggs_Editted_022722.mp3

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Squishy Bubbles

Kyle Lofton looks to help St. Bonaventure shoot their way back to the bubble
 Photo from St. Bonaventure Athletics

The back and forth of the bubble this season has been wild. Marquette is fortunately not in the bubble mix currently and, despite fan worries, I'm not worried about them falling into that scrum. Marquette's 7 Quadrant 1 wins are more than double that of anyone on the bubble except Rutgers (5) and Kansas State (4). Marquette's resume average of 30 is also better than anyone in that area and is a better determinant of selection than the other metrics. While recent form hasn't been great, this is still a team comfortably in the field as a single-digit seed and closer to a protected seed than a trip to Dayton.

So what are some of the factors we are looking at when it comes to the bubble and Selection? Let's take a look at a few of the big factors the Selection Committee has looked at in the past to help determine who will be in and out come Selection Sunday.

Non-Conference Strength of Schedule: When it comes to the field as a whole, teams can make it in with a weak NCSOS. USC has a sub-300 NCSOS this year but appears to be comfortably in, but it's different when it comes to teams on the bubble. 2019 NC State is the best example of this and the reason why teams like Indiana (NCSOS 318) and Wake Forest (NCSOS 334) are on the outside of today's S-Curve. When you don't have many wins over the field and your resume is built heavily on Q4 non-conference wins, the Selection Committee doesn't like putting those teams in.

Resume Average: While everyone is focused on the NET and the predictive metrics like kenpom and Sagarin, no team has ever made the field with a Resume average (KPI and Strength of Record) worse than 52.5. In our current field, the lowest Resume average we have in is Memphis at 53, but this is a danger sign, particularly for teams like Florida and Oregon who have a Resume average at 60 or worse. Rutgers, Indiana, Dayton, and Oklahoma are other teams popping up in the Bracket Matrix that are below the 52.5 barrier and might be in more trouble than bracketologists think.

Win/Loss Gap: While Michigan State got in with a 15-12 record last year, that +3 difference between wins and losses was the lowest in quite awhile and that was likely only because of the COVID shortened season. It's rare for teams to get in without at least 18 wins and a gap of +5 between wins and losses. There are a number of teams this would impact, but particularly the Big 12 bubble teams like Kansas State (14-13), Oklahoma (14-14), and West Virginia (14-14). They have great top end wins, but the record disparity really hurts them. It's a big reason why I have long thought 6 bids for the Big 12 was more likely than the 8 some were predicting. The teams that have been most rewarded in that league are teams like Iowa State and TCU that are still trending towards bids even though they are likely to go 7-11 or worse in league play, just like the three mentioned above.

Big Wins Offset Bad Losses: Teams like Rutgers and Dayton have 3+ losses out of Quadrants 1+2, but teams like 2021 Colorado and 2019 Arizona State and Baylor proved you can get in with some bad blemishes on the resume. I'm hesitant with Dayton considering their losses are all in Quadrant 4, but the Kansas win for the Flyers and the Purdue, Illinois, and Wisconsin wins for Rutgers are enough that those teams shouldn't be ruled out strictly because of the losses.

Net Bottom Line: 2019 St. John's at 73 and 2021 Wichita State at 72 are the two lowest teams in the NET to get into the field. That doesn't bode well for Rutgers (83) and St. Bonaventure (84) who we have just outside the field. That said, if either team can get some big margin wins that move those numbers, they could find themselves on the right side of the bubble.

Let's look at the full S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-ARIZONA 3-KANSAS 4-Auburn

2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-PURDUE 6-KENTUCKY 5-Baylor

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

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

5-Seeds: 17-Texas 18-HOUSTON 19-Alabama 20-Ohio State

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

7-Seeds: 25-Marquette 26-Boise State 27-Michigan State 28-Iowa State

8-Seeds: 32-San Francisco 31-Iowa 30-Seton Hall 29-COLORADO STATE

9-Seeds: 33-Xavier 34-MURRAY STATE 35-Miami 36-Creighton

10-Seeds: 40-Michigan 39-San Diego State 38-Tcu 37-Wyoming

11-Seeds: 41-Notre Dame 42-Smu 43-North Carolina 44-Vcu 45-Byu 46-Memphis







Last Four Byes: San Diego State, Michigan, Notre Dame, SMU

Last Four In: North Carolina, VCU, BYU, Memphis

First Four Out: Florida, Rutgers, St. Bonaventure, Wake Forest

Next Four Out: Indiana, Belmont, Oregon, Dayton

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The legs are wobbly and we answer Scrambled Questions

Marquette went 1-1 this past week but it doesn't feel quite that good. So we're here to talk about the #mubb week that was and the mixed bag of results against Georgetown and Creighton. We then pivot to your questions and answer most of them seriously. We close out the pod with National Marquette Day game predictions. Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/48vcag/ScrambledEggs_Editted_022322.mp3

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Lessons Revealed

Drew Timme reminding everyone Gonzaga is #1
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu | Getty Images

The NCAA released their Top-16 seeds on Saturday to give us an "As It Stands" snapshot of where they are so far. Cracked Sidewalks had 15 of the 16 teams correct, with our #17 Texas edging our #16 LSU (more on the Tigers later). We also had Duke and Villanova flipped between the 2/3 lines and Illinois and Wisconsin flipped between our 3/4 lines. There are a number of lessons to be learned from the Reveal. Let's break it down.

The 1-Seeds: We correctly predicted Gonzaga, Auburn, Arizona, and Kansas on the 1-line. There are three things of note here. First, Gonzaga did not have the top-end wins of other teams, but their metric dominance pushed them to the top of the field. However Auburn over Arizona and Kansas over Baylor and Kentucky indicates resume is the tiebreaker when it's close. Further down the bracket, that likely bodes well for teams like Iowa and San Diego State with dominant (compared to the bubble) metrics and teams like Creighton and Rutgers (great top-line wins) when it comes to those final spots.

Numbers Alone Aren't Enough: Houston had the highest ever NCAA metric to be left out of the Top-16. While we expected that, it could send a message to teams like North Carolina and Wake Forest that quality metrics without wins over the field won't get you the benefit of the doubt.

Head-to-Head: In the past, head to head has not been considered a major factor. However this time we did hear mention of Illinois' win over Wisconsin and UCLA's common opponent record compared to Providence. These seem to be only used as tiebreakers when teams are evaluated closely, but on the bubble teams like Oklahoma and BYU that have a number of wins over other bubble competitors could be the difference maker.

Injuries (don't) Matter: Injuries to Illinois stars were mentioned, but I don't buy that as the reason Illinois made the 3-line as much as the head-to-head mentioned above. Why? LSU, which was the only team we had in the Reveal that wasn't in (our #17, Texas, trumped LSU) also wasn't even mentioned as one of the teams close to the protected seeds. Entering the Reveal with Xavier Pinson playing 20+ minutes, LSU was 17-1 with wins over Kentucky and Tennessee and their only loss to Auburn. When he wasn't fully healthy, they were 2-6. Their record was still close enough to warrant a 5/6 seed without him, but that they weren't even mentioned seems to bode ill for teams like VCU or Florida that might be hoping for a bad stretch without a star player to be viewed more favorably by the Selection Committee.

Using the Top-16 as a reset, here's our updated S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-ARIZONA 3-Auburn 4-Kansas


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

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

5-Seeds: 17-HOUSTON 18-Alabama 19-Connecticut 20-Ohio State

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

7-Seeds: 25-Michigan State 26-Marquette 27-BOISE STATE 28-Iowa State

8-Seeds: 32-Xavier 31-Iowa 30-Seton Hall 29-San Francisco

9-Seeds: 33-Colorado State 34-MURRAY STATE 35-Wyoming 36-Wake Forest

10-Seeds: 40-Notre Dame 39-Creighton 38-Miami 37-Tcu

11-Seeds: 41-San Diego State 42-North Carolina 43-Smu 44-Michigan 45-Byu 46-Vcu






Last Four Byes: Creighton, Notre Dame, San Diego State, North Carolina

Last Four In: SMU, Michigan, BYU, VCU

First Four Out: Memphis, Florida, Indiana, Rutgers

Next Four Out: Kansas State, Belmont, Oregon, Oklahoma

Multibid Leagues

Big East: 7

Big 10: 7

Big 12: 6

SEC: 6

ACC: 5

MWC: 4

WCC: 4

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

A-10: 2

Friday, February 18, 2022

Predicting the Top-16 Reveal

Marquette was last included in the 2019 Top-16 Reveal
Screenshot from CBS Sports

This Saturday will bring the NCAA's official Top-16 Reveal. When even the Selection Committee is doing bracketology, it means we're getting to the serious part of the season. We decided to dig into the history of the Reveal, using all of the data from the first five Reveals, including both NET and RPI data as both were the relevant metrics of their time. First, here are the teams year by year, in descending order from the Top Overall Seed at the Reveal to the 16th and final Revealed team. The teams below the gap are teams that were ranked in the Top-16 of the current metric at the time but were left out:

2021 Reveal NET 2020 Reveal NET 2019 Reveal NET 2018 Reveal RPI 2017 Reveal RPI
1 Gonzaga 2 Baylor 2 Duke 3 Virginia 1 Villanova 2
2 Baylor 1 Kansas 4 Tennessee 4 Villanova 2 Kansas 3
3 Michigan 3 Gonzaga 3 Virginia 1 Xavier 3 Baylor 1
4 Ohio State 7 San Diego State 1 Gonzaga 2 Purdue 9 Gonzaga 11
5 Illinois 4 Duke 6 Kentucky 5 Auburn 5 UNC 4
6 Villanova 9 Dayton 5 Michigan 6 Kansas 6 Florida State 6
7 Alabama 10 Louisville 7 UNC 8 Duke 8 Louisville 5
8 Houston 5 West Virginia 8 Michigan St 9 Cincinnati 11 Oregon 10
9 Virginia 6 Maryland 10 Purdue 11 Clemson 4 Arizona 9
10 West Virginia 17 Florida State 14 Kansas 18 Texas Tech 14 Virginia 14
11 Tennessee 11 Seton Hall 13 Houston 7 Michigan St 21 Florida 7
12 Oklahoma 20 Villanova 15 Marquette 21 UNC 13 Kentucky 12
13 Iowa 8 Auburn 16 Iowa State 13 Tennessee 10 Butler 8
14 Texas Tech 15 Oregon 19 Nevada 14 Ohio State 22 West Virginia 36
15 Texas 21 Butler 11 Louisville 15 Arizona 15 UCLA 21
16 Missouri 34 Michigan St 12 Wisconsin 12 Oklahoma 19 Duke 17
  Colorado 12 Arizona 9 Virginia Tech 10 Rhode Island 7 Xavier 13
  Loyola Chi 13     Texas Tech 16 Nevada 12 Cincinnati 15
  Colgate 14         Seton Hall 16 Creighton 16
  USC 16                

Here are our key takeaways:

The Reveal Reinforces the Current Metric: The first thing that stands out is the number of teams ranked in the top-16 of the RPI/NET that are also in the Top-16 Reveal. 67/80 (83.8%) teams in past reveals were in the top-16 of the current metric. When you go outside the top-16, 78/80 (97.5%) were still in the top-22, so it's rare for teams to show up below that ranking. In the instances teams outside did show up, they were massive outliers in the closest alternate metric. For RPI #36 West Virginia, given a 4-seed in 2017, they were ranked #3 in kenpom at the time. For NET #34 Missouri, given a 4-seed in 2021, they were ranked #2 in RPI at the time. If you aren't in the top-22 of the current metric, you had better be elite in the companion metric.

The Top Two Seeds Lines Are Top-11 Teams: This has happened without fail. There have been a handful of double-digit teams to crack that top-8, but none lower than 11th. Worth watching that NET as there are some outliers perceived to be fighting for the 2-line. The Top-11 teams are also pretty safe when it comes to inclusion. 52/55 (94.5%) teams ranked in the top-11 were included in the Reveal, whereas just 15/25 (60%) of the teams from 12-16 were included. This calculus played in when evaluating Villanova, Texas Tech, and Duke for the final 2-seed.

Only Elite Mid-Majors Need Apply: Only 10/80 (12.5%) teams from outside the traditional Top-6 conferences have been included in the Reveal. 6/10 (66.7%) were ranked in the top-5 of the current metric. The exceptions had immaculate records, including 2017 Gonzaga (#11 in RPI, 25-0), 2018 Cincinnati (#11 in RPI, 22-2), 2019 Houston (#7 in NET, 22-1) and 2019 Nevada (#14 in NET, 22-1). If you had 3+ losses outside the Top-6 leagues, you were left out. And obviously Colgate in 2021, who was a COVID scheduling NET outlier.

Replacement Teams Are From Top-6 Leagues: There have been 13 teams from outside the Top-16 of the current metric to be included and all of them came from one of the traditional Top-6 leagues. Don't expect the Selection Committee to look to a mid-major if they throw a curveball.

We have a little discussion on our selections for the Top-16 Reveal. In accordance with past history, Gonzaga is the only team from outside the traditional Top-6 leagues. 14/16 teams selected were also in the Top-16 of NET, with the exceptions being #20 Wisconsin and #31 Providence. Here is commentary on a line-by-line basis:

1-Seeds -- Gonzaga, Arizona, Auburn, Kansas: The first three seem clear. Gonzaga is the top overall seed because despite the resume, their quality metrics are by far the best in the field. Both Arizona and Auburn seem like obvious picks, which left four teams for one spot. Kansas has the best average of Resume and Metric rankings and leads the nation in Q1+2 wins, which allowed them to edge out Baylor, Kentucky, and Purdue for the final 1-seed.

2-Seeds -- Baylor, Kentucky, Purdue, Villanova: The first three feel obvious and would more likely show up on the top line than the line below. Villanova gets the last 2-seed due to their #5 NET ranking and a better Resume+Metric Average than any team below them.

3-Seeds -- Texas Tech, Duke, Tennessee, Wisconsin: Tech and Duke were considered for the 2-line, but the metrics just didn't justify moving them up despite excellent quality wins. Tennessee's win over Kentucky helped solidify their selection here and while their Q1 isn't as good as some others, they have no losses outside Q1A. Wisconsin was on our 4-line previously, but with their NET moving up to 19 after the Indiana win, there is now precedent for them being placed this high (2021 Oklahoma, 2019 Marquette, and 2018 Michigan State were all ranked lower) and their 8 Q1 wins are second only to Baylor.

4-Seeds -- UCLA, Illinois, LSU, Providence: Both UCLA and Illinois seemed like they had to be included. Both have the numbers and enough Q1 volume to warrant inclusion without any truly bad losses. LSU does have a Q3 loss but we moved them up because no one around them has a resume that is significantly better enough without some serious blemishes. Providence sticks as the last team in. While their NET ranking doesn't seem to warrant inclusion, their single digit resume average is good enough that it seems likely they'll be included. PC fans have long said their is no comparison to their resume, but I would point to 2017 West Virginia. While they had diametrically opposite resumes (WVU had monster wins and narrow losses, PC has narrow wins and big losses), both excelled in the metric that was not the NCAA's chosen of the day. On the team sheets, WVU had the aforementioned kenpom rank of #3 while Providence has an average resume metric of 8.5.

Also considered -- Alabama, Texas, Houston: The Selection Committee always discusses a few teams that are just on the outside looking in. These three all have pros and cons. Alabama has a brilliant top-end resume and SOS, but their two Q3 losses and borderline metrics weren't good enough to put them in. Texas has similar quality and is ranked #15 in the NET, but too much of their record is puffed up by Q4 games. Houston has excellent numbers, but despite the #4 NET (which would be the highest ever left out of the Reveal) they have zero Q1 wins, zero wins over the field, and too many total losses to be included from outside a power conference.

And last...Marquette: The Golden Eagles had a legitimate chance to get in this discussion, but the loss to Butler and narrow win over Georgetown dropped their NET from 24 to 32. Had they beat Butler and held their 26-point lead against the Hoyas, they may have been able to get to the 4-line or at least been one of the alternates considered, but instead they are heading in the other direction. For now they hold on to our last 6-seed thanks to their Q1 wins, but it was a close evaluation between them and St. Mary's (the Gaels' 2-6 Q1 record just wasn't good enough). A win at Creighton so their Q1+2 record doesn't fall below .500 would be strongly advised.

Here's the entire S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-ARIZONA 3-Auburn 4-Kansas


3-Seeds: 9-Texas Tech 10-DUKE 11-Tennessee 12-Wisconsin

4-Seeds: 16-Providence 15-Lsu 14-Illinois 13-Ucla

5-Seeds: 17-Alabama 18-Texas 19-HOUSTON 20-Ohio State

6-Seeds: 24-Marquette 23-Michigan State 22-Usc 21-Connecticut

7-Seeds: 25-St. Mary's 26-Arkansas 27-COLORADO STATE 28-Boise State

8-Seeds: 32-Seton Hall 31-San Francisco 30-Iowa State 29-Xavier

9-Seeds: 33-Miami 34-MURRAY STATE 35-Wyoming 36-Tcu

10-Seeds: 40-Memphis 39-Notre Dame 38-Wake Forest 37-Iowa

11-Seeds: 41-Davidson 42-Creighton 43-Byu 44-Michigan 45-Kansas State 46-San Diego State







Last Four Byes: Notre Dame, Memphis, Davidson, Creighton

Last Four In: Byu, Michigan, Kansas State, San Diego State

First Four Out: Indiana, North Carolina, SMU, Rutgers

Next Four Out:  VCU, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Belmont

Multibid Leagues

Big East: 7

Big 10: 7

Big 12: 7

SEC: 6

ACC: 5

MWC: 4

WCC: 4

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

Atlantic-10: 2

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Marquette's Quadrant Breakdown

Marquette will try to avoid stepping on more rakes like the loss at Butler
 Image from The Simpsons | 20th Television

The bracket side of Cracked Sidewalks is preparing for a guest appearance on the Delphi Bracketology podcast later tonight as well as the Top-16 Reveal, so instead of digging deep into a topic, we'll talk a bit about Marquette's resume by Quadrant, including what's left on the schedule before getting to the new S-Curve. At this point, it's all about trying to not step on any more rakes.

Quadrant 1 (7-6), Remaining (1): at Creighton

Marquette is tied for third nationally in Quadrant 1 wins, behind only Baylor (9) and Kansas (8). While the game at Creighton is the only Q1 opportunity left on the schedule, the home game at Seton Hall could potentially move up to this Quadrant as the Pirates are 34 in the NET and the home cut-off is 30. At the other end, Providence could fall from Q1 to Q2 as the Friars sit exactly on the Q1 cutline at 30. Regardless, this is a very strong number, particularly as 4 of these wins are in the elite Q1A category.

Quadrant 2 (2-3), Remaining (1): at DePaul

The good news is that Marquette's two worst losses have moved up to this Quadrant as Creighton and St. Bonaventure are currently in Q2B. The roadie at DePaul is the only remaining Q2 game, though the Ole Miss win could move to this category as the Rebels are at 108 with the neutral cut-off being 100. Creighton is the game that seems most likely to fall out of this category, the Jays are 70 and the cutoff is 75.

Quadrant 3 (3-0), Remaining (2): vs Butler, vs St. John's

Marquette is solid here, with the only worry being a game from Q2 dropping to this range. Win at home and hope nothing falls so the resume doesn't have any bad losses.

Quadrant 4 (4-0), Remaining (1): vs Georgetown 

It's rare to play a Q4 game in Big East play, but here come the Hoyas. None of Marquette's current Q4 games look likely to move up, and Georgetown certainly doesn't seem to show any indications of improving by the 55 spots they would need to reach Q3 territory. The positive in this quadrant is there are no sub-300 games, which has helped give Marquette the #2 ranked Strength of Schedule nationally, which factored into us placing them on the 6 line this week.

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-ARIZONA 3-Auburn 4-KENTUCKY

2-Seeds: 8-DUKE 7-PURDUE 6-BAYLOR 5-Kansas

3-Seeds: 9-VILLANOVA 10-Texas Tech 11-Tennessee 12-Ucla

4-Seeds: 16-HOUSTON 15-Providence 14-Wisconsin 13-Illinois

5-Seeds: 17-Lsu 18-Alabama 19-Michigan St 20-Ohio St

6-Seeds: 24-Xavier 23-Marquette 22-Connecticut 21-Texas

7-Seeds: 25-Arkansas 26-St. Mary's 27-Usc 28-Colorado St

8-Seeds: 32-Iowa 31-Boise St 30-WYOMING 29-Seton Hall

9-Seeds: 33-Tcu 34-MURRAY ST 35-San Francisco 36-Wake Forest

10-Seeds: 40-North Carolina 39-Notre Dame 38-Miami 37-Iowa St

11-Seeds: 41-Indiana 42-Oklahoma 43-Creighton 44-Memphis 45-Byu 46-Oregon







Last Four Byes: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma

Last Four In: Creighton, Memphis, BYU, Oregon

First Four Out: San Diego State, Kansas State, Davidson, Belmont

Next Four Out: Michigan, West Virginia, SMU, Rutgers

Also Considered: Florida, Mississippi St, Virginia Tech, VCU, St. Louis, UAB, Virginia, Washington St, Texas A&M, Utah St, Santa Clara, Cincinnati

Monday, February 14, 2022

A bad week to be sure, but let's take it in stride

Well, the joys of college basketball generally and #mubb specifically is they zig when we zag. The team had a rough week losing one game that was somewhat expected and another that was definitely unexpected. So we talk about the week in total and especially everyone taking their foot off the gas against Butler. We also spend time talking about the defense and what is driving the lagging performance of late. We then look ahead to the week to come and predict whether it will bring success or more pain. As always, enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/t5btmp/ScrambledEggs_Editted_021322.mp3

Friday, February 11, 2022

Big East Win Targets

Justin, how many wins would it take to lock Marquette into the NCAA field?
 Photo by Justin Gash | AP Sports

The Big East has 7 teams fighting for bids right now. So what do they need to do in order for all 7 to get in, and is there any chance one of the outsiders could crack the field? Bear in mind any of these teams could probably get to Dayton with one fewer win than I'm presenting, but we are talking lock status, Let's break them down in order of the standings:

Providence Friars (20-2/10-1) -- 1 win:  The Friars might be safe already, but the strength of their resume is the lack of losses, and if they suddenly had losses to DePaul and Butler (among others) on the resume, the resume metrics that are propping them up would drop quickly. I expect they could probably lose out and still get into Dayton, but they need at least one more to be certain.

Villanova Wildcats (18-6/11-3) -- 1 win: Similar to Providence, Villanova is probably safe, but if they lose out their 18-13 record would be the kind that gets a lot more scrutiny. Get one more win and they are completely secure.

Connecticut Huskies (16-6/7-4) -- 4 wins: UConn needed that win against Marquette as it's only their third win over a team in the projected field (two against Marquette and a beauty over Auburn). They still need to add a couple notches on the belt. This feels like a high number for a team with UConn's metrics, but their win over Marquette was only their third against a team in the field (MU twice & Auburn) and they have three games against teams unlikely to get in. While 3 wins would probably be enough considering the soft bubble, it would take 20 wins for UConn to feel completely safe on Selection Sunday.

Marquette Golden Eagles (16-8/8-5) -- 3 wins: Marquette is similar to Villanova in that 18 is just a very risky number of wins to bring to the Selection Committee. They have enough quality wins and the metrics are fine, so it's just a matter of not stepping on too many rakes before Selection Sunday. The remaining schedule should mean a comfortable finish, but Marquette fans jaded by major swoons each of the past 3 years could be forgiven for not feeling that comfort just yet.

Creighton Blue Jays (14-8/6-5) -- 6 wins: While 5 might do it, anything less than 6-2 down the stretch will have them sweating in Omaha. The plus side is they have some fantastic wins and despite the shaky metrics; their three Q1A wins are the types of wins that get poor-metric teams into Dayton (see 2019 Arizona State, 2019 St. Johns, and 2021 Wichita State). Getting 6 more wins would mean adding at least 2 more over teams in the field. It's an uphill climb, but the opportunity is there.

Xavier Musketeers (16-7/6-6) -- 4 wins: Xavier's once sterling resume is starting to look iffy. They haven't beat a top-75 NET team since December 18. They only have wins over two teams we can confidently put in the field (Ohio State and Marquette, Creighton is very bubbly). As long as they can win the games they are supposed to down the stretch, they should be okay, but as we saw at Cintas against DePaul, that hasn't been an easy task of late.

Seton Hall Pirates (15-7/6-6) -- 3 wins: While this would put Seton Hall in that "not hitting 19" category we discussed above, their cancelled games mean 18 wins would keep them out of Dayton. Picking up one more quality win (Xavier, Villanova, or UConn all qualify) would really help their case, but the Pirates are still in pretty good shape as long as they don't collapse.

St. John's Red Storm (13-10/5-7) -- 7 wins: The good news for St. John's is that they can get in the field without needing to cut down nets at MSG. The bad news is they probably can't take another loss and feel secure in that. Their miserable non-conference made it really difficult to get an at-large, but if they win out, they would add 4-5 wins over teams in the field, including two away from home. There's no margin for error, but with their NCSOS they really can't afford to be close to the bubble because when your best non-con win is Colgate, the Selection Committee won't view your resume favorably.

DePaul Blue, Blue, Blue Demons (12-10/3-9) -- 8 wins: It's St. John's all over. If DePaul wins out, they could get an at-large. There isn't much in the non-con to write home about, but they didn't take any terrible losses there either. The wins over Seton Hall and Xavier are both solid and a winning record in this league with what would be required to win out would have them dancing in Chicago. It's a virtual impossibility, but for now they can cling to virtual reality.

Butler Bulldogs, Georgetown Hoyas -- 4 wins (at MSG): Both teams have amassed too many losses already to have any real case for the Selection Committee. It would take a repeat of Patrick Ewing's 2021 run for either to hear their name called.

Here's the updated S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-GONZAGA 2-Auburn 3-Kansas 4-ARIZONA


3-Seeds: 9-VILLANOVA 10-DUKE 11-Wisconsin 12-Texas Tech

4-Seeds: 16-Providence 15-Ucla 14-Illinois 13-Tennessee

5-Seeds: 17-Texas 18-Marquette 19-Lsu 20-Alabama

6-Seeds: 24-Michigan St 23-St. Mary's 22-Arkansas 21-Ohio St

7-Seeds: 25-Connecticut 26-Xavier 27-Seton Hall 28-Indiana

8-Seeds: 32-Usc 31-Tcu 30-Boise St 29-Iowa St

9-Seeds: 33-Wake Forest 34-Iowa 35-WYOMING 36-Colorado St

10-Seeds: 40-Byu 39-LOYOLA CHICAGO 38-Davidson 37-MURRAY ST

11-Seeds: 41-West Virginia 42-Oklahoma 43-San Francisco 44-Oregon 45-Notre Dame

12-Seeds: 50-IONA 49-UAB 48-ST. LOUIS 47-Belmont 46-Creighton






First Four Out: Michigan, Miami, SMU, San Diego St

Next Four Out: North Carolina, VCU, Florida, North Texas

Multi-bid Leagues

Big 12: 8

Big East: 7

Big 10: 7

SEC: 6

Pac-12: 4

WCC: 4

ACC:  3

MWC: 3

A-10: 2

OVC: 2

Thursday, February 10, 2022

BPI Should be Removed from Team Sheets

Might BPI cost Creighton a NCAA bid?
 Photo by Mitchell Layton | Getty Images

While playing around on with Team Sheets today, I decided to dig into ESPN's Basketball Power Index (BPI). Of the metrics included on the official NCAA Team Sheets, only BPI is owned by a media company. The Selection Committee uses averages of the metrics on the Team Sheets when it comes to seeding and selection, so what numbers are on there matters.

There are two types of metrics on the NCAA Team Sheets. Resume metrics look at wins and losses, similar to the old RPI. Quality metrics look at team efficiency, so the more you score and fewer you allow, the better you do. The easiest way to understand the difference is to look at a team like Providence, who has a great record, and thus excellent resume metrics (5.0 average) but with blowout losses and narrow win margins, comparably low quality metrics (36.7 average). BPI is one of those quality metrics, along with kenpom and Sagarin.

What is galling to some fans is that Mountain West teams in particular (and Marquette, for fans of this blog) fares far worse in BPI than they do the other quality metrics. While systems using different calculations will always have disparities, when one of those systems belongs to a media company that has contracts to broadcast some teams and not others, those disparities will be the ones that stand out the most.

I went through the top-100 teams in the NET and picked out every team where the BPI rank was 10 spots greater or worse than the other two quality metrics. I then looked at both the change made by the BPI in terms of how far it moved the team's quality average and also looked at who the team's conference has their media rights with. Here are the results, with teams in red being teams ranked worse by BPI and teams in green being ranked better by BPI:

Marquette 43 24 31 32.7 -5.2 Fox
Wyoming 91 36 69 65.3 -12.8 Fox
Boise State 56 29 38 41.0 -7.5 Fox
Colorado State 86 50 40 58.7 -13.7 Fox
Virginia Tech 21 35 35 30.3 5.3 ESPN
Utah State 74 31 53 52.7 -10.7 Fox
Belmont 42 55 60 52.3 5.2 ESPN
BYU 80 46 42 56.0 -12.0 ESPN
Mississippi St 27 49 45 40.3 6.7 ESPN
Chattanooga 57 68 88 71.0 7.0 ESPN
Toledo 62 72 75 69.7 3.8 ESPN
Cincinnati 88 78 78 81.3 -3.3 ESPN
Texas A&M 60 76 80 72.0 6.0 ESPN
Creighton 94 77 64 78.3 -7.8 Fox
New Mexico St 127 88 89 101.3 -12.8 ESPN
Clemson 53 67 70 63.3 5.2 ESPN
Richmond 66 86 81 77.7 5.8 ESPN
Stanford 100 90 87 92.3 -3.8 Pac-12
Colorado 120 99 79 99.3 -10.3 Pac-12
Wagner 90 113 126 109.7 9.8 ESPN+
Liberty 82 98 110 96.7 7.3 ESPN+

It seems noteworthy that every single team who benefits more from BPI is in a league that has a contract with ESPN. It also seems noteworthy that 8 of the 11 teams that are harmed most by BPI have their primary contracts with networks other than ESPN. The only potential at-large team that is harmed by the BPI is BYU. Every other viable at-large candidate that is harmed is with Fox and every viable at-large candidate that is helped is with ESPN.

How much impact might this have? In the case of a team like Marquette or Belmont, it could move them up or down one seed line. For teams like Colorado State or Wyoming, it could be 2-3 seed lines and possibly even keep them out of the tournament altogether. For a team currently on the bubble, like the Big East's Creighton, BPI could be the reason they miss the NCAA Tournament. Considering the value of NCAA Tournament Credits, this is hugely impactful, particularly for leagues that rely on College Basketball and the NCAA Tournament for significant portions of their revenue.

Maybe it's coincidence. Maybe this is an outlier year. However this at the bare minimum has the appearance of potential impropriety. It is certainly plausible that the creators of BPI have found a way to weight their metric to help programs that have contracts with their company.

I don't know what goes into all the metrics present on the Team Sheets. Maybe BPI is on the up-and-up and this is just a coincidence. But if the NCAA values transparency, honesty, and good faith, they should remove BPI from the Team Sheets immediately. Media companies should not be able to put their fingers on the scales of the NCAA Selection, and it certainly seems plausible that's exactly what's going on with the BPI.