I normally like to get my last bubble review up as soon as possible after the NCAAT Selection Show. Normally that means getting things pulled together on Sunday night. But unfortunately business travel means that â€œas soon as possibleâ€ is today. (But of course, Lake Erie is quite beautiful this time of year, so itâ€™s not all bad. And if you believed that oneâ€¦..)
Somebody help me. Iâ€™m a dummy. I have no intelligence whatsoeverâ€¦
From Dick Vitaleâ€™s post-selection show video at ESPN
Who would have thought that Vitale would have said something that I can agree 100% with. Of course he then drones on about poor, poor VT. I didnâ€™t get to see the show live, but Dickie V usually finds an undeserving mid-major to champion. I donâ€™t remember him taking up for a BCS school before.
Setting the Vitale jokes asideâ€¦he makes the same mistake every year (as do many others). They take one criterion (often one that they make up) and then base all of their decisions and proclamations from that one position. Often (like head-to-head results) these criteria have never been used by the Selection Committee.
Some people choose to remain ignorant of how the selection process works. But I enjoy studying the selection process and have done a number of entries here discussing the various nuances seen each year. Our commentators here have helped me with their own work or by linking appropriate articles and comments. (The SFN comments section was the first place that I read about the Selection Committee dropping the emphasis on how a team finishes the year.)
So this entry is intended to chronicle what we learned and saw this year. I donâ€™t know if anyone else goes back into our archives, but this is the type of article I will look up next year to refresh my memory and to see if there are any new things that I need to look at. For example, maybe leaving VT out will kill some of the criteria that Iâ€™ve seen posted here from time to time:
– 9 wins is normally enough and 10 ACC wins will always be good enough.
– 20 wins and 0.500 in the ACC is always enough.
In addition to VT, I saw Miss St, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Seton Hall listed as teams that fell on the wrong side of the bubble. Letâ€™s look at each oneâ€™s resume and see if we can determine their fatal flaw(s) (Each title is a link to their resume at CBS Sports.)
Well let me start on a rather arrogant note and quote some of the remarks that Iâ€™ve made just this season about VT and/or weak OOC schedules:
Itâ€™s shouldnâ€™t be hard to see that there is a very real possibility of having a 9-7 conference record and still needing multiple wins in the ACCT to get an at-large bid. (This happened to VT just two years ago when the ACC was the #1 ranked conference.)
The 2006 FSU team is one of the examples that I use to justify my formula for how to fall into the NIT (which is one of the reasons that we have tracked OOC SOS):
Weak OOC Schedule +
Marginal Conference Performance +
Poor Conference Tournament Performance=
Along with FSU (2006), you can add UVA (2000) and VT (2005) as ACC teams used to justify my conclusion. Outside of the ACC, ASU (2008) and Penn State (2009) also support this conclusion.
VT (14-3) and UM (14-4) look to be doing pretty wellâ€¦as long as you donâ€™t look too closely. Both teams have OOC SOS ranked 300+, so their chances of getting into the NCAAT start to look a whole lot like the view that mid-majors have.
VT is squarely on the bubble because of a ridiculously easy OOC schedule, currently ranked #340. If you doubt the impact that a weak OOC schedule can play, scroll down and review Penn Stateâ€™s resume from last year (6 Top 50 wins including 2 Top 25 wins) for just one example of how the Selection Committee has punished poor scheduling decisions in the past.
You can argue that the Selection Committee should ignore SOS and just look at top-25 and top-50 wins if you want to. But you absolutely have no basis to claim that the VT snub somehow demonstrates an inconsistency by the Selection Committee.
With a decent OOC schedule (not incredibly difficult, just decent); VT would have probably been a no-brainer with wins against GT (#33), Clemson (#34), and WF (#39). The more interesting question for me is exactly where the line in the sand concerning OOC SOS lies. (As weâ€™ll see with our next team.)
Here are some interesting comments from Jerry Palm (at collegerpi.com)
Again this year, a team learned the hard way that you can’t take the first two months off and get a free pass into the tournament. This year, that team was Virginia Tech.
However, with a 96-team field, you’ll see a lot more majors play schedules like that, because in that tournament, nearly every .500 or better team from a major conference would figure to get in. That means not taking any chances on non-conference losses in case you struggle in the league. So a 96-team field doesn’t just water down the regular season by making it less important, but it waters down the actual schedule.
– Their RPI ranking alone puts their chances of getting a bid down in the 30% range. (See last yearâ€™s Bubble Review.)
– They only have two top-50 winsâ€¦and five losses to 100+ teams.
– An OOC SOS ranking of 208 might be an issue.
So you really have to line up the last 4-6 that got in next to Miss State and then try to pick amongst the best of a bad bunch.
RPI ranking of 74 pretty much ends the discussion. From previous work, an RPI ranking of 65 is the worst ever selected for a BCS school (NC State in 2005) and would tie the worst ever (New Mexico 1999). Itâ€™s not hard to believe that there would be better teams availableâ€¦next case.
It would be interesting to listen in on the Selection Committeeâ€™s discussion about Illinois to see what they viewed as the worst parts of Illinoisâ€™ resume. Five top-50 wins (including two top-25 wins) is certainly better than several State teams from the Herb era. What I really would like to know is how much discussion these wins got versus the four losses to teams ranked 100+
Only one top-50 win. That was enough to send VT to the NIT two years ago, so I donâ€™t see any need to look any deeper.
How in the world do you evaluate a team that tied for 9th place in the monstrosity known as the Big East? No embarrassing losses combined with frightfully few impressive wins means that we are left evaluating a wonderful example of â€œmediocreâ€. A second round BET loss to ND probably pushed them off of the back side of the bubble.
I don’t understand the Selection Committee’s decision to no longer place special emphasis on how a team finishes the year. To me, that makes the Committee’s decisions harder, not easier. It’s fairly easy to use the conference tournaments as a way to identify those teams that are ready to play in a bigger tournament. Or maybe I just want to hold onto the one criterion that got several of Herb’s bubble teams at State into the NCAAT.
As has been the case the last few years, there are examples of teams with resumes that are pretty close to those of the last few inâ€¦but none with a burning example of being shafted by the Selection Committee. I shudder to think of the discussions we will have if the NCAA is stupid enough to continue expanding the NCAAT.