Back on the Bubble

Well, State has finally dropped their RPI enough that we are definitely back on the Bubble. What I mean by that is that State’s RPI is low enough (#48, one spot BEHIND Maryland) that the Selection Committee will have to balance the strengths and weaknesses of State versus the other Bubble teams when selecting the at-large bids. Here is a table summarizing “A Look Back at the Bubble”:

The Dance Card has been updated for Friday’s games and still predicts that State will still receive an at-large bid. Let’s hope that the Selection Committee really does think like the Dance Card.

How much does 10 ACC wins mean? Here is State’s record compared with two Big East teams from 2003:

Both Big East teams were sent to the NIT. Luckily for State, the Dance Card predicted that both Big East teams would fall off the back-side of the bubble that year. So I think there are ample grounds for positive feelings…but enough uncertainty to be a little uneasy.

Commentary from Jeff:
There has been a lot of talk about “The Bubble” on the internet the last couple of days. I wanted to chime in here with some thoughts.

Although I think that NC State will get an at-large bid. I do not think that NC State deserves the certainty of consideration that the media applies to the Wolfpack in their analysis.

I think that the NCAA Tournament Committee pays far more lip service to their “deep analysis” than what actually occurs; once selection weekend arrives, the Committee doesn’t seem to truly dive deep into the numbers of the “locks”. I have watched this phenomenon evolve over the last few years — the media gets the opportunity to proclaim the at-large “locks” weeks prior to selections and then the media and committee just accepts those “locks” without ever re-addressing their original analysis. It is like the locks get put on the board and then the generally accepted bubble teams are compared to each other (and not necessarily to the locks).

The difference between State this season and the examples used in VaWolf’s examples is that State is starting from a position of a “lock” and these other examples were trying to fight their way up the bubble. History indicates that human beings (and the committee) don’t like to go back and make changes to opinions that they have already formed no matter how much the set of facts and data may have changed. (Have you ever tried reasonsing with an HSSSer or Lee Fowler?)

A PURE analysis of numbers based on some of the primary criteria that the NCAA Tournament Committee publicly proclaims as important would leave NC State VERY WORRIED this year. But, I don’t believe that the reality of the situation merits much worry since the committee seems to ignore their own criteria once they have generally considered a team “a lock”.

Tough out of conference scheduling? State is in with an embarassing #210 in the country.

Tough overall schedule? The weak, imbalanced ACC schedule on which State feasted boosted the Pack to #62 in the country.

Finishing strong? Is this a joke? Have you watched us? State has lost four in a row and has been drilled by double figures in almost every game down the stretch. Georgia Tech won 2 of their last 14 games, one of them was against NC State and the other against last place Wake Forest. You know, last place Wake Forest who won only two ACC games this season against teams not named NC State

Other than winning the bulk of games played against horrible teams…what part of our regular season performance is it that has gotten us in? State’s breakdown against the RPI is:

0-4 vs RPI Top 25
3-1 vs RPI 26-50
8-3 vs RPI 51-100
2-1 vs RPI 101-200
8-0 vs RPI 201+

* In the Top 50, only 7 other teams failed to win a single game vs the Top 25. (Air Force, Maryland, St Joes, George Washington, UNC-W, Nevada, & Arizona). Everyone one of these programs are rated AHEAD of NC State except for Air Force.

* Of the Top 50, only 7 other teams played more games against teams worse than #200. Many of these teams are in very poor conferences and had no choice. Additionally, many of them are garnering the automatic bid from their conference. [asterick* indicates auto bid) – Bucknell*, UAB, George Washington, George Mason, Hofstra, UNC-W*, Memphis)

I’m truly not arguing that we are not getting a bid. I think that we are. But, I definitely wonder WHY we are when I look at the numbers.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

General NCS Basketball

9 Responses to Back on the Bubble

  1. class of '74 03/11/2006 at 10:07 AM #

    After yesterdays debacle I’m not so sure a fall to the NIT wouldn’t be the best thing for our longterm health. At least it would drop this 5 straight NCAAT’s mantra the apologists constantly harp on.

  2. Cardiff Giant 03/11/2006 at 4:04 PM #

    If I was on the committee NC State would be sitting home from the Dance. It’s that simple. The notion that we are among the best 64 programs in the country is patently absurd.

  3. TVP 03/11/2006 at 6:01 PM #

    We’re safe primarily because there is no way the committee will only pick 3 teams from the ACC this year. Additionally, there don’t seem to be many worthy at-large candidates – if you look at the profiles of other teams, they all have plenty of warts. In past seasons I think we would have been in much more trouble.

    Having said that, I plan to bet heavily against State advancing out of round one.

  4. Cardiff Giant 03/11/2006 at 8:49 PM #

    Especially now that we look to be a 9 seed with the freaking Salukis, followed by #1 UConn.

  5. choppack 03/11/2006 at 10:20 PM #

    We’ll see. I said a few weeks ago we could end up getting left out. I think the loss to Wake leaves us 50/50 at best. We’ve had some help w/ other teams collapsing. Of course, the way we’ve played the last few games does it really matter?

  6. Mr. Duff 03/12/2006 at 10:50 AM #

    Getting to the NCAA’s will be meaningless. A first weekend exist does nothing for us, as fans, but just enough to keep Lee Fowler from doing some work (which he’s paid to do) and make an executive decision about the quality of our men’s basketball program.

  7. Ken Stalling 03/12/2006 at 3:05 PM #

    One point missed in your analysis is that the RPI formula has been changed many times. Last year was the latest change, and that change was very controversial. The change was to greatly reduce conference strength in the analysis of wins and losses. This year’s RPI for the first time takes 50% of the aggregate value from the raw win-loss record of your opposition.

    This change was deliberately adopted by an NCAA Committee stacked with representatives of mid-major conferences, who came to that meeting with an agenda to dilute the influence of major conferences in the NCAA tournament, and to increase the number of mid-major conferences at-large bids.

    Here is how it benefits top flight mid-major teams. The transformation in college basketball is that many mid-major conferences now feature a few quality teams, but overall, their conferences don’t measure well against the top-to-bottom quality of conferences like the Big East, ACC, SEC, and Big-12.

    So, these teams such as Missouri State will schedule teams like Oral Roberts, who play in very weak conferences. Oral Roberts would not win a single game in the ACC. But, it’s win/loss record indicates they are a good team. Therefore, Missouri State will earn more RPI points for defeating Oral Roberts than NC State will earn defeating a team like Florida State, Maryland, Clemson, or even Boston College!

    Now, you tell me, how much of a chance would Oral Roberts have to defeat any of these ACC teams which NC State defeated at least once this season? Clearly, the answer is none!

    Our team collapsed this year at the finish line. That is tragic, and most unacceptable, and I blame Herb Sendek for this. But, we will make the NCAA field as an eight or nine seed regardless of the RPI. Unfortunately, teams like Maryland and Florida State may not even though they are certainly better teams than some of the mid-major squads that took advantage of a skewed RPI forumula deliberately designed to hurt ACC teams with .500 conference records.

  8. VaWolf82 03/12/2006 at 3:20 PM #

    One point missed in your analysis is that the RPI formula has been changed many times…

    You’ve obviously missed many of the entries we’ve done here this year. The only rigorous analysis of the NCAA Selection Process (that I know of) was done by two college professors and they call their “formula”, The Dance Card.

    Their analysis showed that the actions taken by the Selection Committee last year were very consistent with bubble selections made from previous years. While the changes in the RPI formula elevate the teams at the top of any conference….there is no data to suggest that the change in the RPI formula negatively affected any ACC team last year.

    For example, last year State had the lowest RPI of any team to receive an at-large bid….but they did not receive the lowest seed given out to an at-large team. Thus RPI is important and any changes made to the formula are important….but RPI is not the only thing that is important.

  9. VaWolf82 03/12/2006 at 3:25 PM #

    I find it hard to feel sorry for either FSU or Maryland.

    Maryland won only two games the entire month of Feb and was ~5-8 after losing their leading scorer.

    By most projections, FSU would have been a lock with a win over the 12th seeded Deacs….and they couldn’t deliver.

    If either or both teams are left out, it won’t be because of changes in the RPI formula…it wil be because they lost too many winnable games.

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