Selection Sunday Post-Mortem

Well you either enjoy the seeding and bubble discussions that happen every year from Selection Sunday through the next Wednesday or not. There seems to be very few folks that fall in between those extremes. I always enjoy making fun of the talking heads that remove all doubt concerning which side of the 100 IQ line they fall on.

But it’s much easier to sit on the sidelines and ridicule than to get down in the dirt and struggle with actually making decisions where moving one team into the field means you have to move someone out. Too often the media concentrates moving teams in without bothering to count to 68 total teams. As I’m writing this intro, I don’t know who will provide me the most entertainment/frustration…the media or the NCAAT Selection Committee. But I’ll have room and time to discuss that below our pre-show analysis.

Using “Last Four In” and “First Four Out” lists from Lunardi (ESPN), Palm (CBS), and the professors behind the Dance Card, here is a list of teams that likely summarize some of the Selection Committee’s toughest decisions:


  1. Info from ESPN that frequently has small differences with the NCAA’s official numbers. But make my life easier by preparing most of the columns we need for a blind analysis.
  2. Yes, we had RPI ranking ties at #39 and #55.
  3. Pomeroy rankings are included for information and possibly future analysis discussions.
  4. I manually added a column for bad losses, even though it’s not clear how important they are.
  5. I also manually added a column for Top50 road or neutral wins OR the best road/neutral win for each of our candidate teams.

Now one of the big advantages the Selection Committee has when it reaches the tough part of the selection process is that they know how many spots they have left…and right now I do not. So for today’s exercise, pick five teams that are definitely in and five that are definitely out based on whatever criteria you value. My guess on Sunday morning is that we’ll end up with more than five in both categories, so picking five should be easy, right?

I decided on this approach weeks ago. But it turns out to be harder than I expected. With the team names hidden, here were my easy decisions:



#39(1) probably really isn’t a bubble team. Five Top 25 wins (two on the road) with #1 SOS shouldn’t take long to move this team in. Their seven losses to 51+ probably pushed them down everyone’s rankings…and rightly so. But an easy decision when you start measuring midgets.

#39(2) shares many similarities with the team they share an RPI ranking with. But #39(2) loses out on comparison with the positives but offsets that with fewer negatives. They easily surpass the Sendek Standard that we’ve explored/discussed many times in the past.

#55(1) has an OOC SOS that is approaching concern, but is offset by their positives. Four Top50 wins (two on road) is more than good-enough for me.

#38 has few outstanding accomplishments, but they also have relatively few things to be embarrassed about. I’m not enthusiastic about the resume, but it should be good enough.


I highlighted the negatives that put them on my NIT list.

#35 and #44 both hit my gag reflex, even though teams like these get into the NCAAT from time to time (ie Wichita St last year). They played no one to speak of and their accomplishments fall below the Sendek Standard (similar to Boomer’s Mendoza Line). #44 digs the hole even deeper with their horrible losses.

#84 makes for interesting discussion. How do you balance six Top 50 wins to go with five embarrassing losses? You could argue this one for days without changing anyone’s mind on either side of the argument. Add in a less-than-inspiring OOC schedule and producing nothing on the road moves them to the NIT on my list….not to mention the fact that their RPI ranking is far below any team that has ever received an at-large bid.

Side Note: As I said last week, I have no idea what to do with Pomeroy’s rankings. So I found it interesting that you could use his rankings as justification for my easy IN/OUT picks. Starting this year, we’ll add this info and see if it’s useful or not.

That left me with the following teams and I tried coloring in the boxes to help with my decisions:

#81 is another conundrum. Six losses to teams that most likely won’t get an at-large bid to the NCAAT combined with five Top 50 wins with two coming on the road. In the past, I’ve used teams with similar bad losses as proof that the Selection Committee doesn’t look at this category. But last year, the Selection Committee Chairman used bad losses as one of several reasons that a mid-major was passed over. So do whatever you think is best with this team, but consider that their RPI is worse than any team invited in the past and is about 10 spots worse than the Syracuse team that many thought should have been left out last year. I put them in the NIT.

#55(2) was my last of five on the OUT list. Nothing really outstanding and four bad losses.

Here were the four teams that I seriously considered for my last of five to put IN:

In the end, I decided that Top 50 wins, road wins, and bad losses would be my deciding points and put #48 in my last spot. There are reasons to argue for any of the other three teams and I seriously hope that more than one from this list makes it into the NCAAT.

So here are my selections with their name turned on along with what the NCAAT Selection Committee decided:

And the original 15 team list (note that RI got the A10 automatic bid)


Providence is in the First Four and I didn’t see them on any list near the bubble burst. Providence was #37 on the Dance Card, with #49 the last team in.

For the first time that I remember, the talking heads on CBS didn’t have a mid-major to champion as a wronged team. They only talked about Wichita St’s seeding and the power rankings….while ignoring the fact that Scary Wheat played no one and got their Pomeroy (et al) high rankings by beating up on a bunch of nobodies.

So we didn’t set a new record-high for an RPI ranking to get an at-large bid, but we did break a record. Vanderbilt is the first team with 15 total losses to get an at-large bid.

Looking quickly, the Pomeroy rankings mostly agree with the logic I’ve been using for a while.   So I don’t think we gained any info on whether or not the Selection Committee using Pomeroy’s rankings…or if they actually used it at all.

So if the talking heads won’t cooperate by giving me someone to make fun of, I guess I’ll publish this and see what you saw. As always, link articles in the comments that discuss anything about the selection process.


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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    Men home, but the ladies still dancing on Friday in Austin, Texas. Congrats!


    Totally agree. Congratulations to the Lady Pack. I was a bit taken aback at the #6 Seed. Only Cuse was lower. We did have a LOT of top Team wins. Just saw Coach Moore on TV and he was a bit miffed at the lower seed also….but at LEAST we were invited. Last year we put on our finery, had our hair done, new nails, push up bra and “other enhancements”. Date NEVER did show up. He would have had a HELLUVA time if only he had called…

    SO, you go to TX and FIGHT IT OUT….The ladies, based on the “Watch” video that WRAL ran were truly excited… well they should be. Great for our super 4 Seniors.


    I never pay much attention to the NIT, but we should probably pay attention to the #1 seeds since we can draw a line between those four and the four playing in Dayton in the First Four.

    This year’s NIT #1 seeds were Cal, Illinois St, Iowa, and Syracuse…all of which were in the opening/closing table of 15 teams to consider.

    I finally went back and checked on the four teams that I was choosing for my last pick and 3 of those 4 made the NCAAT. Illinois was the one that I was considering that didn’t make the NCAAT and got a #2 seed in the NIT. I would have picked Illinois before Syracuse…but obviously the NIT Selection Committee thought differently.



    just my thanks for such a quality blog post. Taking away the names and playing the stats game was compelling. I thought I’d glance over lunch and ended up spending 15 min or more pouring over the details and analysis. A little more challenging on an iPhone.


    Thanks. I’ve done one of these for several years and am not sure the best format. If work schedule allows next year, I may do this in two parts. Blind picks before the show and the answers after the selection committee gives them to us.


    DFMO. – VaWolf will have you prepped for selection Sunday. Thanks to him, I know what to expect on that day…and realize that lunardi is talking out of his bohonkus half the time


    Bill and Roo, take care getting those things dialed in. Dad got a pacemaker, never got better and didn’t make it. Prayers for you continued good health.

    Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy. Mao Zedong


    I just sorted the table of 15 teams by Pomeroy (don’t know why I didn’t think about this earlier) and the six highest teams in the list got at-large bids. USC got the last bid in our group of teams and is way down the list of Pomeroy rankings. (USC was one of my final four choices for my last slot of 5 selections.)

    Pomeroy didn’t like Providence either which wasn’t in the list of 15 discussed above.

    USC – with an RPI ranking of 42, their overall resume is very similar to WF(#38)…a few good wins and little to be embarrassed about. Not surprising that both ended up in the First Four.

    With six top 50 wins, Providence ranked higher on the Dance Card than on the Selection Committee’s list or Pomeroy Rankings.


    Makes you wonder if the Pomeroy rankings are gaining purchase with the committee, fo sho.

    And of course, Comrade Roo-vich has great benefit of Strong Soviet pacemaker technology, so he should be able to have all the potato vodka he wants!


    But is the Soviet pacemaker powered by a Samsung battery?



    Due to Flu and Sinus infection that delayed Pacemaker implant, my alcohol input was terminated….DW Rules….you know the rest.

    Since January 26, have had two mixed (restaurant) cocktails and one glass of Merlot. Remember the old joke about the Crocagator….How do he Defecate? He DON’T….That what make him so MEAN…. Same applies for low alcohol blood levels.

    However, thanks to those that expressed concerns. Ticker Chip has been turned down a bit. Still needs some tweaking. But Energy Level and such are back to 2007 levels….

    Gonna go to Vegas in April and do the 2 day Ron Fellows Corvette Performance Driving School. Aerobic capacity well above normal. Walking 1.5 miles per day has cut down on bulge…..DW says it is the LACK of Alcohol. Having said that, I was maybe 4 “measured” drinks per week….so don’t put me in the AA 12 Steps program…

    I will NOT release my tax returns…..and I know where my “client” copy is as my DW does them….no matter how much pressure the MSM and Social Media exerts….


    Makes you wonder if the Pomeroy rankings are gaining purchase with the committee

    Maybe, but USC and Providence make me wonder about cause and effect. Based on actions and quotes in past years, I’m convinced that the Committee pays attention to SOS ranking (good and bad) when dealing with the bubble. Pomeroy – not so much.

    I would really like to know what the Committee said about Iowa and Syracuse behind closed doors. A lot of Top-50 wins countered by a bunch of bad losses and really bad RPI. You have to wonder if there’s an RPI line that they just don’t want to go beyond.

    For all of the whining about Wichita St, Pomeroy rankings, and poor seeding, I haven’t heard a single media type bring up Pomeroy’s ranking for them last year. It seems like the #12 team in the country would do better than just a win in the Round of 64.

    I have no doubt that Ken can defend his algorithm when looking at all of college basketball. But like a lot of population statistics, norms mean a lot less when you are talking about an individual. Margin of Victory skews power rankings of Wichita St just like Strength of Schedule skews the RPI ranking of Wake Forest. Who you beat matters to the Selection Committee and it makes sense to me.


    Yeah, and as such I’m not surprised Wake was given a “prove it” seed nor that they did not.

    K State is pretty tough.


    Roo – best of luck to you.

    Regarding Wake – word on the street is that gott was the deacs Defensive consultant last night.

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