Hard to Kill

Some things are really hard to kill…like Count Dracula or the silly notion that 20 wins means something special to the NCAAT Selection Committee.   No matter how many times I have shot down the 20-win nonsense, it comes back every year.   I’m beginning to fill like a vampire hunter with a rubber stake.

In any event, I’m going to try one more time and follow some advice from a recent movie:

…Never shoot a large caliber man with a small caliber bullet.

Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing…

Sole Survivor


Stake #1

Over the last several years, the NCAA has gone out of their way to hold workshops for various media types to explain the selection and seeding process.   These meetings have even included mock selection exercises to illustrate the types of decisions that have to be made.   Google around and read these articles like I have.   If you find an article that talks about the importance of 20 wins, be sure and post it in the comments.   (Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.)


Stake #2

Using the information from statsheet.com, I counted 73 teams that won 23 or more games last year.     You don’t have to be a math genius to see that all of those teams won’t fit in a 68 team field that also includes over 30 automatic qualifiers.


Stake #3

Maybe I missed the intent of the 20-win criteria.   Maybe it is only supposed to work for the larger schools in the major conferences.    Maybe it was also supposed to include teams that finished 0.500 or better in conference play.

Well if those extra qualifiers were supposed to be included along with 20 wins, then explain why the following teams found themselves playing in the NIT last year:

20 Wins

Note that this list is only from last year and isn’t necessarily all-inclusive.


Stake #4

A couple of self-professed basketball junkies and statistics PHDs have studied the selection process and attempted to reduce the selection process to a mathematical formula.    They no longer list their selection criteria, but previous versions of the website did.   Here are the criteria that were listed when I first wrote about The Dance Card.

– RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) Rank
– Conference RPI Rank
– Number of wins against teams ranked from 1-25 in RPI
– Difference in number of wins and losses in the conference
– Difference in number of wins and losses against teams ranked 26-50 in RPI
– Difference in number of wins and losses against teams ranked 51-100 in RPI


I wonder how a couple of statistics experts missed an obvious correlation between total wins and an at-large bid?



I like simple.    I like accuracy.   I hate being wrong.    I like to support my conclusions with facts.

Every year when we have these bubble discussions, I find that most people share my first preference but not necessarily the others.




Based on past experience, I expect that we haven’t seen the last of Wile E. Coyote or the 20-win nonsense.

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

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    Some things are really hard to kill…like Count Dracula or the silly notion that 20 wins means something special to the NCAAT Selection Committee.  
    [See the full post at: Hard to Kill]


    Alpha Wolf

    Wait and see…come the end of the month, you’ll see various members of the media stoking the 20-win myth.



    Years ago when the field was expanded to 64 teams most schools only played 25 games. 20 wins was a valid number. Since most teams now play 30 to 35 games that number is now 25. Really not hard to figure out.



    I can’t tell if you’re serious or not, but in last year’s NCAAT, I count 19 teams (including UNC and NCSU) who got at-large bids without 25 wins. (That’s a little over half of the at-large bids.) In other words, not a very useful criteria.



    So let’s all agree, there is no probable scenario that gets us in the NCAAT this year.

    I doubt that surprises anyone.



    Its such a headache to argue with people who say “If we win 10 games in the ACC we’ve got to be in” or, just as was presented, the 20 win myth. Our schedule, over the next 9 games, are full of more landmines than anything.

    I’ve resigned to the fact that, barring a couple of unexpected wins we won’t see any paaaarts of the NCAAs this year…



    You’re telling me that 20 wins at 0-6 vs RPI Top 25 and 2-2 vs RPI 26-50 won’t get us in???



    Nice summary Va.

    There’s also merit in discussing why 20 wins no longer matters. Namely, expansion means the league schedules are now so imbalanced that you can’t simply combine the 20 wins with 9-7 to pad your resume. Several ACC teams over the years — including a couple of Herb’s teams — got at-large bids at 7-9; but until a few years ago only one or two had ever been snubbed at 9-7. Now, there’s a big difference between a 20-win, 9-7 team that only plays (and loses to) Syracuse, Duke and Virginia once this year and a .500 team that plays each of them (and perhaps splits with some of them) twice.

    My favorite over the past few years has been ESPN’s insistence on touting a bubble team’s BPI, which is a stat it made up because it thinks the RPI is too simplistic. Never mind that the selection committee doesn’t factor in BPI and still uses RPI because it is, in fact, simplistic.



    If you peruse the dance card you will see that we are very much alive for a bid at this point. As a matter of fact, they had us “in” last Friday.

    The big question is where does our RPI land if we win 6 of our next 10. If we win 7 of next 10, I am fairly confident we’d get a bid….translation: I think our RPI would be somewhere between 44-50.

    Another thing to keep in mind, dance card uses old RPI formula (vs. New one that gives more points for road wins). I don’t know which formula the selection committee uses, but if dance card was 37-37, it doesn’t seem like they use the new one.



    Another thing to keep in mind, dance card uses old RPI formula

    This is an interesting point that I’ve been wanting to discuss. Let start with a few more facts before drawing conclusions:

    – The net effect of the new RPI formula is to elevate teams at the top of the mid-major conferences versus teams in the middle of the power conferences.
    – The Dance Card is only concerned with clearing the bubble…not seeding. They say that the old RPI formula shows better correlation than the new one and I’m not going to argue statistics with a couple of PHDs.
    – The NCAAT Selection Committee is concerned with both the bubble and seeding the entire field.
    – You can get copies of the “nitty-gritty” sheets that the Selection Committee uses and there is only one RPI listed.
    – Jerry Palm (formerly collegerpi.com and now on cbs.com) has said for years that about 3/4 of the field is seeded within one spot of what you would calculate from RPI.

    So, the conclusion that I’ve drawn is that if the change in RPI hasn’t really affected the selection process, then it must be mostly used for seeding.



    This is based on the “eye test” and not anything scientific, but I don’t see any way we get in without a win over Syracuse and Pitt and/or UNC. Keep in mind, you can win two games Wed and Thu in the ACCT this year and neither of them be considered quality.

    We won’t play Duke or Virginia again unless we meet in the ACCT. Splitting with WF and beating Miami twice won’t do it.



    Keep in mind, you can win two games Wed and Thu in the ACCT this year and neither of them be considered quality.

    Damnit. I should have dissected this nonsense at the same time as the 20 wins.

    There are alot of people that love to make predictions based on “one” or “two” wins in the ACCT without understanding that expansion has severely diluted the ACCT. In my experience, these people are at least as rabid as the group touting total wins.



    Lrm and va wolf – I think everything hasn’t been taken in context. When I talk of 1 or 2 acc tourney wins I am considering what these will do for our RPI. (I can’t speak for others.)

    I actually reduced my “magic number” for us when I saw where we were on the dance card and RPI.

    Our RPI is pretty good right now and if we win 7 of our next 10, the data will have us getting an at large bid. If we win 6 of 10, we still have a decent shot.

    Check out dance card, right now we are #52- the last 2 years top 51 has been cutoff line… that’s how close we are at this moment.

    Va wolf – interesting thoughts on seeding. I remember arguing with folks on this board last year who thought we’d get a 6 seed that our RPI didn’t indicate that would happen.



    Just as a side note….really enjoy the bubble discussions – I have learned a ton in the last few years.

    And if there is one area where gott knows what he’s doing it is scheduling.



    Our RPI is pretty good right now and if we win 7 of our next 10, the data will have us getting an at large bid. If we win 6 of 10, we still have a decent shot.

    That may be, I don’t know as I don’t pay close enough attention to this kind of stuff in early February. But I do know the debate with us will be “who have they beaten?” And right now, we’ve beaten really nobody as FSU continues to fall.



    MG knows scheduling because he learned his lesson from his time at Alabama. He had somethink like a 21-8 (9-7) team stay home, while 16-14 (8-8) Georgia got in. Alabama’s OOC schedule was ranked in the 300s, Georgia’s was #1.



    When I talk of 1 or 2 acc tourney wins I am considering what these will do for our RPI.

    I wasn’t talking about you or anyone in particular since I haven’t seen that particular discussion yet. But experience says that it’s coming.

    With the new ACCT format, the bottom six teams play on Wed…and the ACC certainly doesn’t have any bubble teams down that far. If a bubble team wins on Thurs, they are nearly guaranteed a note-worthy opponent on Friday (against #1-#4 seeds)….meaning that two ACCT wins should be a big boost for any bubble teams.

    If you haven’t seen it, here’s the new ACCT Format:



    Wulfpack – don’t forget Tennessee. We beat them AT Tenn. They are holding steady right now.

    And remember, you need to play that same game (who have they beaten) with other bubble teams too. If our competition has similar issues, we will be fine.

    Like I said, just look at dance card to see where they think we are.

    Another item of note: real time RPI has our projected record @ 8-10 in conference. Doing better than that should give us a nice little bump…and right now that is all we need.



    At 14-8 and with 9 games remaining, we will likely finish above .500 overall. But .500 in the ACC won’t likely happen since we’re now 4-5 and will probably lose more than we’ll win between now and March. And even if we do well from now on, few if any of the remaining games are against anyone who could raise our stature in the eyes of the NCAA Selection Committee. I think we’re at best an NIT bubble team.

    3 of our remaining games could doom us- the road game at VT or the home games vs Wake and BC. Lose two of those three, and the only way this team could end up in the NCAAT is a run to ACCT Sunday.

    I still think we’ll be playing on ACCT Wednesday, and although that might buy us at least 1 more ACCT game, it won’t be against anyone who matters, like UVA, Syracuse and Duke. I don’t think Syracuse will beat us by 30 points, but they have the ability to make us look even worse than we did against the Cavs and Devils.

    For those of you who love the new, expanded ACC, drink it up. Along with Wake Forest and Boston College, we are among the 3 biggest losers in this league. We will, thanks to ESPN, never get the opportunities to play in any important ACC games, including the ACC-B1G Challenge, and the national perception will grow that NC State has become an even smaller fish in a growing pond.

    It just sucks being an NC State fan, period.



    I listen to a lot of podcasts commuting and just heard Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg talk on the bubble. We weren’t even mentioned. I think we all know we have a lot of work to do.



    We certainly can’t go 4-5 in the second half of the acc season.

    We’ll see though – more interested in lunardi’s comments than a coach who couldn’t schedule his way to at-large bids year after year and Andy Katz.



    You are not following the logic of my 25 wins statement…
    How many 25 win teams did not make the tournament last year?
    That is the point…
    25 wins is the new norm over the old 20 win norm…
    You win 25 and you are in…
    Unless there was somebody last year that did not get in with 25 wins that I am not aware of?



    Katz typically has a very good read on what is going on. We are now 9th in the ACC and have done nothing of note in the non conference. That is not going to get it done, not even close. Most think ACC is going to be lucky to get 6 bids this year.



    Wulfpack – we did OK out of conference, our schedule, while not worldbeating wasn’t embarrassing. The reason Katz didn’t mention us was because we are 4-5. Please just look at the rpi’s and dance card – and remember – we’re not talking about being in the top 25- we are talking about getting in as a 10-11 seed…one of last teams in.

    I will trust the guys over at dance card over andy Katz. How many of the 37 at large bids did Katz get right last year?

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