What the Heck is a Quadrant?


I completely missed the news that came out last July about the changes that were being made in the Selection Process for the NCAAT. When I saw articles and forum comments about the changes, I had to google around and see what I could find. Assuming you were ignoring college sports articles thru the summer like I was, here’s a brief summary on what we missed.



A committee from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) asked that the difficulty in winning on the road be reflected on the team sheets used during the selection and seeding process. This comes on top of analysts arguing for years that more emphasis needed to be put on road wins.



The big thing seems to be that team sheets will sort the games played into four quadrants:

Note that the NCAA link above lists all of the criteria that the Selection Committee uses.



The old method was divided simply by RPI ranges:



We consulted with experts within the coaching and analytics fields who looked at historical data, based on winning percentages by game location, to come up with these dividing lines within each of the columns,” Mark Hollis, Michigan State’s athletic director, and the outgoing committee chair, said. “The emphasis of performing well on the road is important, as was the need for teams not to be penalized as much for road losses. Beating elite competition, regardless of the game location, will still be rewarded, but the committee wanted the team sheets to reflect that a road game against a team ranked 60th is mathematically more difficult and of higher quality than a home game versus a team ranked 35th. We feel this change accomplishes that.”



Mid-majors of course. Every change made that I’m aware of since a 6-10 FSU got an NCAAT bid has been made to help the mid-majors. Let’s be clear with what “mid-major” means. I don’t think that anyone wants a second team from the bottom dozen or so conferences into the NCAAT. The changes were made to help the Temples or maybe Monmouths of college basketball:

It’s a huge step for mid-majors, schools forced to play more road games than the majority of teams from conferences that annually land four or more tournament bids.

“It also puts an emphasis on losses,” an NCAA source who was in the room in Chicago told CBS Sports. “If you look at Monmouth from a couple of years ago, they were dinged for losing games against teams in the 200s on the road. Now, in the current system, those teams would be in the third column now instead of the fourth. It’s not just the wins, but where those losses — which show in up red on the team sheets — land in the columns.”

Monmouth missed the NCAA Tournament in 2015 despite owning many neutral and road wins over power-conference teams (including victories over Notre Dame and USC). Under these guidelines, it’s the Hawks may have landed an at-large bid.

More on Monmouth:

“I think that’s good,” Monmouth coach King Rice told NCAA.com. “We should have gotten into the tournament that year. People still come up to me to this day and tell me that. We had one home game in our first 11 pre-conference games that year. We beat teams that we thought were going to be pretty good.”

Monmouth had a win over USC (51) on a neutral court and wins over UCLA (102), Siena (104) and Georgetown (106) in true road games. In the old system, the USC win would have been in the second category on the team sheet the selection committee studies and the other three would have been in the third category of 100 and above. But now they all slide down on the team sheet, to make the resume look more attractive.

VaWolf82 translation:

We didn’t really beat anyone that was any good. But we tried and that should have meant something!!!



Let’s backup and discuss the last time that the RPI formula was changed by adjusting the winning percentages to give more credit for road wins and a bigger hit for home losses. The net effect was to elevate teams at the top of mid-major schools and lower the RPI for teams in the middle of the power conferences. At first glance, you would think that this change would help more mid-majors get at-large bids. But the professors behind The Dance Card found that getting an at-large bid better correlated with the old RPI formula. Why was that?

My theory is that a slightly higher RPI alone won’t increase your chances of getting an at-large bid. You need quality wins to earn spot in the NCAAT. The new RPI formula devalues the win by a home underdog in a power conference…but the Selection Committee usually rewarded these upsets. They have always valued road/neutral wins, but not against the dregs of college basketball. So most of the mid-major road wins that elevated their RPI bought them nothing from the Selection Committee.

So will this change be any different?

Well if the people that were so busy touting Monmouth had actually done their job, we would know. You can’t just look at the changes that would have happened to one team’s resume and draw any conclusions. The Selection Committee ranks every team from 1-68. If they are going to describe the changes to Monmouth, then they should also have done the same thing to the resumes of the last four teams to get at-large bids. Then look at all five resumes and see if Monmouth actually looked better than the lowest at-large bids. (PS…Monmouth’s resume was so bland, I didn’t mention them other to make a snide remark in my post-Selection blog post that year.)

My guess is that the changes could help in certain situations. I don’t have any exact numbers but I suspect that even with the new changes, teams from the middle of power conferences will still have more opportunities to get Quadrant 1 wins than most mid-majors. If a team is any good…more opportunities will translate into more big wins and ultimately more bids.

Now that we know the Dance Card is being updated this year, we can get some clues about how much the new quadrants change the selection process when we compare the actual bids to the Dance Card’s predictions. We probably won’t know anything definitive until there is enough data with the new system for the Dance Card professors to analyze the at-large bids being given out with the new system.

In any event, I would be willing to bet that at least one mid-major will be touted as an example of where the new system helped earn them an at-large bid. We’ll have to take a look at any such examples to see whether or not the new system actually helped or not.



Yes, but with the following caveat:

Each of the 10 committee members uses these various resources to form his or her own opinion, resulting in the committee’s consensus position on selection and seeding.

So other metrics are available to the Selection Committee, but it doesn’t appear that there are any set rules on how to use them. But we definitely know that the RPI is used by the committee because:

  • They specifically say so in the above link.
  • The professors behind the Dance Card have proven it by statistical analysis.



For the first time, committee members will see rankings from ESPN’s BPI and Strength of Record, KPI, Jeff Sagarin Ratings and KenPom.com next to the RPI on the official team sheets used to assess each program…

The tools all vary in how they assess a team. The RPI, KPI and ESPN’s Strength of Record aim to capture the quality of a team based on its current résumé. And ESPN’s BPI, Sagarin and KenPom.com ratings attempt to predict how a team will perform in the future…

Note that I strongly disagree with using metrics that attempt to predict the future to fill or seed the NCAAT. Both at-large bids and seeds should be earned, not a product of predictive algorithms. Predictive algorithms need to stay in the domain of geeks and gamblers.

Here’s a snip from State’s team sheet from the NCAA on Sunday after the UNC loss (upper left corner of team sheet):

Warning: The above link goes to a PDF that has one page for all of the 351 teams in Division 1. Even worse, it doesn’t appear that the pdf is searchable. The NCAA also publishes a “nitty-gritty” report with one summary line for each team…not searchable either. Surprisingly, the NCAA has been publishing these each morning for the last several weeks. Just make sure that you don’t click the women’s basketball links by mistake.

I don’t have any clue about the KPI other than it was created by Kevin Pauga. There’s always Google if you want to learn more.




After seeing the definitions of the new quadrants, these are obviously two of the most important questions. Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything that comes close to answering either question. But before we start speculating on the future, let’s back up and look at what we know about the past.

I generally make an effort to link interviews with the Selection Committee to hopefully get more information about the inner workings. The problem with this approach is that sometimes you get information that is lacking proper context. For instance, when the selection committee says that someone got in because of their road wins…was that a general criterion or just the area where that particular team stood out from the others competing for the last few bids? Conversely, when the Selection Committee said that SYR was left out last year because they didn’t have good road wins, was that the only reason or was it just more palatable than saying that their RPI sucked?

So if we mostly ignore what people say and look at what they do, we should be able to use the inputs from the Dance Card to illuminate the selection process used before this season. From my entry last year on the Dance Card, we know that the following things can be used to project at-large bids:

Overall RPI rank (using RPI formula in use prior to 2005)

– No. of conference losses below 0.500 record

Wins vs. teams ranked 1–25 in RPI

Wins vs. teams ranked 26–50 in RPI

No. of road wins

No. of wins above 0.500 record against teams ranked 26–50 in RPI

No. of wins above 0.500 record against teams ranked 51–100 in RPI

I put them in this order because that’s the way they were listed in a paper published by the professors. One would think that they are listed in order of their weight with the most important being at the top. In any event, we can look at those factors associated with the quadrants and make some semi-educated guesses.

In the old system, all wins against the RPI Top 50 were classified as good wins. But when the professors dug a little deeper, not all Column 1 wins were treated the same. Specifically, the good wins actually contributed three different ways:

– Wins vs. teams ranked 1–25 in RPI

– Wins vs. teams ranked 26–50 in RPI

– No. of wins above 0.500 record against teams ranked 26–50 in RPI

So it seems reasonable to conclude that the old Column 1 games were mentally split into “good” wins and “really good” wins by the Selection Committee. You could make snide comments about this, but I choose to believe that this shows how much time the Selection Committee spent studying the candidate teams. So one of many questions that come up is will the new Quadrant 1 games be mentally split as well? How much “mental” weight will a road win against a Top 75 team carry when compared with other Quadrant 1 wins?

Obviously we don’t have any answers, but here is an example from State’s team sheet on how the Quadrant 1 games are presented to the committee.


The color coding is defined at the bottom of the team sheet…but from my viewpoint, the whole layout is ugly enough that it would make my eyes bleed to stare at it for very long. Whoever decided to lump the wins and losses together by sorting based only on opponents’ RPI is an idiot. The games in each quadrant should be separated into wins and losses and both then sorted by RPI. My arrangement would make it much easier to compare one team with another when the committee starts working towards the end of the Bubble.

But if you can past the horrible presentation, it is not that hard to pick out the RPI ranking of the Q1 wins. So it would not be that difficult to mentally attach extra weight to a team with a Top25 win versus a team with a Top75 win on the road. On the other hand, it is not hard to imagine a scenario where the committee bends over backwards to treat all Q1 wins the same because of the new process. Only time will tell which scenario plays out in this year’s selection process.

For the old Column 2 games, both wins and losses count in that the professors found that wins above .500 against 51-100 showed some statistical significance in the selection process. So it seems likely that the Q2 wins will carry as much weight as they did in the past…even though it’s not obvious exactly how much weight was ever given to these second-level wins. But based on past quotes from the Selection Committee, the Q2 wins can make a difference when deciding on those last few at-large bids.


ND needs to keep winning unless they meet State in the ACCT. As long as ND remains in the Top75, the loss will be in Q1 and the win in Q2. The FSU and L’ville games also look to be Q2 games. Right now, it seems likely that State will only end up with those three games in Q2 before the ACCT. The uncertainty on how Q2 games will be used adds a little extra importance for State to do no worse than a split with FSU/L’ville.



There is one anticipated change that didn’t happen in Chicago: removal of the RPI as the primary ranking source. It’s the data point that builds team sheets, and has been criticized for as outdated and manipulated by savvy schedulers. The NCAA notes in its press release that there is a “likelihood of a new metric being in place for the 2018-19 season.” The NCAA will attempt to run a composite ranking system, plus a separate, unique, independent formula next season as test run behind the scenes. Think of it like a dress rehearsal: the NCAA wants to see how a composite metric and how its individual ranking system performs vs. other established metrics before signing off on an overhaul.

“The bottom line is we recognize the need to continue using more modern metrics and the need to make those more front and center in the sorting of data for the selection and seeding process,” senior vice president of NCAA basketball Dan Gavitt said. “However, it’s also critical to have a long-term solution that is tested in real time, so we can roll something out that we have complete confidence in, is mathematically sound and is acceptable in every stakeholder’s eyes.”

The movement to introduce more modern metrics into the evaluation process was formally sparked with a meeting of analytical minds in January. The NCAA is motivated to evolve its selection process, but wants to be certain it has an accurate metric (or composite) before it downgrades the RPI.

Note that it is beyond silly to claim that you need to evaluate the various metrics this year, before making a decision on what metric(s) to use. First of all, you should almost never make a technical decision based on only one data point. Secondly, why couldn’t they look at the last five or ten years and see how the different systems perform relative to the decisions that were made then?




In one of the best PR moves of all time, the NCAA starting hosting mock selection sessions to explain and illustrate the process for the media. While it’s obvious no one from CBS or ESPN ever attended, every article that I’ve read was highly complementary of the event. The reason I mention this is that the dates from past years mock events always seem to be in mid-February. So keep your eyes peeled for articles from this year and link them here for our collective education.

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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Home Forums What the Heck is a Quadrant?

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      I completely missed the news that came out last July about the changes that were being made in the Selection Process for the NCAAT.
    [See the full post at: What the Heck is a Quadrant?]


    I forgot to provide a link to State’s team sheet in the article. I’ll just put the link here rather than edit the entry (again).


    Note that the losses to UNCG and N. Iowa will most likely stay in Q3…along with the Penn St win.


    I heard Jay Bilas ripping the Quadrant system, rightfully so. His analogy was according to the quadrant system beating Rider at their home is the equivalent of beating Nova at your place. Are those two things even close to equal?


    His analogy was according to the quadrant system beating Rider at their home is the equivalent of beating Nova at your place. Are those two things even close to equal?

    About 95 times out of 100, I automatically disagree with anything Bilas says. For instance, people often call the RPI calcs “simplistic”, outdated, and worse. While the RPI is obviously simplistic, the actual selection process is anything but. So back to Bilas, just because both wins are in the same column on a piece of paper, doesn’t necessarily mean that the selection committee will view both games the same (though it is a possibility).

    Based on the statistical analysis behind the Dance Card, Top 25 wins were meaningful even though they were lumped in with the Top 50 wins. Things could change this year, but I still expect Top 25 wins to carry special weight with the Selection Committee. For now, all we can do is speculate…unless we find some articles on this year’s mock selection event. Baring getting some illuminating information, we’ll see what we see after Selection Sunday.


    Q – 1 commons
    Q – 2 Berry
    Q – 3 Bagwell
    Q – 4 Becton


    UNCG is almost a Q2 loss. Pull for them to improve to 75 RPI or better. Helps to get rid of a bad loss.

    And according to freshment 83, I am a Q4.


    BTW, the Quadrant system is helping us because we have some good Q1 wins. Use Syracuse as a comparison. Your RPI tracking chart has Syracuse in but the pack at the bottom of the bubble. But a couple of the bracketologists have State in the last 4 in, but Syracuse as just out because we look better.
    But in your RPI article you think 9-9 in conference won’t do it for us and I agree. If we get to 10-8, I think we should be in. 9-9 we would need something special in the tournament. Beating Syracuse on the road gives us another Quad 1 win and gives us a head to head against a fellow NCAA bubble team. It also get’s our needed win count down to 3. A Syracuse win does not help them as much since they are home, but it certainly helps them. Let’s hope we win tonight or we will have to win 4 of the last 5.

    john of sparta

    most sports are turning into MoneyBall.
    enough games make the numbers work.
    (that’s why football rules…not enough)
    lately, “numbers” MLB has hit the next level.


    But a couple of the bracketologists have State in the last 4 in, but Syracuse as just out because we look better.

    I don’t read minds, but when I look at a lot of brackets I doubt that they are really based on the assumption “if the selections were made today.” It looks to me like the bracketologists are mixing current facts with projections/predictions to fill their bracket.

    SYR is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Before last night’s game, they had a good RPI, were .500 in the ACC, good OOC schedule, and several good wins. To the best of my memory, that combination has never been left out of the NCAAT. But if you look at their remaining schedule, it’s not obvious that they can finish with a .500 conference record. With <.500 conference record, you need an impressive win in the ACCT to get a bid. So it's not hard to see why people would leave them out of their brackets.


    Well I don’t get the whole SOS thing anyway. We played AZ, Tennessee (power 5 19-6), Penn St (18-9) in the pre-season then our conference slate, seems like that would qualify as a decent SOS to me. Listen once you get below like 100 or so in the power ranking you’re pretty much splitting hairs aren’t you? I expect NCSU to beat the 120 RPI team by as much as we should beat the 250 team. What this means is some patsies that front loaded with power 5 school to get their cut of the gate and got killed have a higher sos than we do so their 17-9 record means more than our 17-9 record?


    What the NCAA is trying to do is set up an analytical system that basically takes all responsibility off of them to make any decisions.


    (that’s why football rules…not enough)

    Football has it as well. Check out the debates about who makes the “Final Four” playing for the championship. It will eventually get expanded to 16 games and the conference championship games will be eliminated. There will be more $$$ (which is what it is really about), and the argument will be that the only teams that really have a chance at a title will be there. There still will be debates though because where ever there is an arbitrary cutoff point, there will be complaining around the teams near that line, even if they have no real statistical chance of winning it all.

    The RPI debates are really about the last 4-6 teams in every year, and 4-6 teams that got left out. Of teams of that profile, VCU with Smart is about the last one that I can really remember that went on any sort of run. Much ado about nothing, but what it means is that there’s buzz and interest about college basketball (and by extension these sorts of sites) during the regular season. If not, the only interest would be during the tournament (much like the NBA).

    VAWolf’s write up is great. I knew the quadrant breakdown and how different wins could be viewed home vs. away, etc., but hadn’t really thought of the “winners and losers.” It will be interesting to see how this changes the predictive brackets, if at all. I would tend to agree that the committee’s “mix of inputs” leaves it open to them doing whatever they want. 😀


    Q5 – Alexander, Tucker, Owen, Metcalf & Bowen…
    The center of the universe…
    Hello ?

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!

    What this means is some patsies that front loaded with power 5 school to get their cut of the gate and got killed have a higher sos than we do so their 17-9 record means more than our 17-9 record?

    Let’s go back to what makes up the SOS:
    Winning percentage of your opponents (with the games against you removed)
    Winning percentage of your opponents’ opponents

    So the opponents’ RPI ranking doesn’t directly feed into SOS. But you’re right in that an opponent with an RPI of 120 is generally going to have a better winning percentage than one with a ranking of 250.

    Since SOS is basically an “average” of your opponents winning percentage, it takes a lot of games against good teams to make up for 7 really, really bad teams. The Selection Committee doesn’t want teams to run up impressive records against unimpressive opponents. So when teams dig their own grave with a weak OOC schedule, those teams have to do something extra to earn a bid. This sequence of events is known to just about anyone that bothers to spend any amount of time studying the Selection Process. If Gott could figure this out, then I tend to think that anyone could.


    What the NCAA is trying to do is set up an analytical system that basically takes all responsibility off of them to make any decisions.

    I don’t think so. The Selection Committee appears to take every opportunity to distance themselves from the calcs that used to rule college football. No one algorithm is ever going to be able to take in every pertinent aspect and the Selection Committee is not going to turn all of that over to any one algorithm. Just one example is losing your leading scorer for several weeks, racking up a bunch of losses, then start winning again when he comes back (sound familiar?). The committee wants the ability to take things like that into consideration.

    I briefly mentioned the mock Selection event. The articles from people who have attended over the past years have been unanimously impressed with how much work goes into the selection process. Most of the bitching comes from talking heads who like to hear themselves talk or are just interested in stirring up controversy.

    I read a bunch of articles on this whole subject and linked most of them in the write-up. The “coaches” have complained about the RPI and want something different. I suspect that the bitching comes mainly from the mid-major coaches AND that they are bitching about the wrong thing.

    The basic inequity between the power conferences and the mid-majors isn’t RPI calcs. It’s the simple fact that teams in the middle of the power conferences are going to have more chances at top-quality wins. For teams that are any good, more chances equals more quality wins and thus more bids.

    If you go back and read the comments from the Monmouth coach, it sounds to me like he was trying to schedule teams good enough to get noticed, but bad enough that Monmouth could beat them. That’s a difficult line to straddle. But even if a mid-major is able to read the tea leaves and pick the right opponents, they have to play on the road.

    Power conference teams aren’t usually interested in traveling to play mid-majors….because every OOC road game, represents lost revenue. Sometime during the Great Herb Debates, someone from the comments at SFN counted up and pointed out that State usually schedules about 10 OOC games in Raleigh every year. Assuming that the consistency of past schedules shows intent, it’s going to be rare for mid-majors to play many good teams at home.

    Maybe the quadrant system will help mid-majors. Maybe they can schedule enough Q2 wins on the road to get an invite. But you need to know how many Q2 wins it takes to balance a Q1 win before you can draw any conclusions about whether this latest change will help the mid-majors or not.


    “I think that’s good,” Monmouth coach King Rice told NCAA.com. “We should have gotten into the tournament that year. People still come up to me to this day and tell me that.”

    Those “people” wouldn’t happen to be fellow holes, would they, coach? The EweNC sense of entitlement apparently followed all the way to Monmouth.


    Va using your criteria then State should be an automatic in. After all if its about television ratings and possible upsets then wouldn’t people rather watch a team that’s beaten several ranked teams go up against a top seeded team knowing that there could be a good chance of an upset brewing or a Cinderella in the making? Our OOC SOS drags us down but the reality is we are much more likely to beat a seeded team and make a run and that’s what viewers want to see after all (it’s what I want to see). However a team that had a higher OOC SOS that really hasn’t beaten anyone of note can get in ahead of us.
    Looks to me like that’s just the NCAA trying to insulate themselves from the criticism so we’ll just have to agree to disagree.


    However a team that had a higher OOC SOS that really hasn’t beaten anyone of note can get in ahead of us.

    Not likely. If you have an example from the past, then we can discuss. The RPI is simplistic, but the selection process is not. So someone who has “pumped up” their numbers without key victories will not get in.

    The best example I can think of right now was the year VT got a first-round bye in the ACCT, beat Miami, lost to UNC(?) and didn’t get in…but Miami did. Miami had several good victories, but Miami was VT’s best win by far.

    After all if its about television ratings

    I don’t think so. The Selection Committee is made up of athletic directors and conference commissioners. I believe that they work to get the best teams because they would want their teams treated just fairly in the future. In the end, most of the bitching comes from (a) idiotic talking heads (See Digger Phelps and Dickie V), (b) talking heads trying to stir up controversy (everyone at CBS), or (c) mid-majors that want an invite even though they didn’t beat anyone.


    Plus. I’m biased. Every time State has been close, they’ve gotten in. I was worried about Sendek’s last year and had given up the year TJ Warren won ACC POY. But State got in both times.


    Dance card – Pack 38


    38 North Carolina St. 4.9613 100.00% 48(RPI) – Projected?


    No freshman 83 – they use the old RPI formula. They evidently saw more correlation between for tourney bid teams than the newer RPI.

    What’s interesting about this year is that usually we don’t have a lot of wins vs quality opponents at this point. This year is obviously different.


    I think the quadrant system is designed to encourage power conference teams to go on the road against mid majors. The old argument was that these games were no win situations for the power conference teams. Not many mid majors finish in the RPI top 25 but there are plenty in the top 75. This is a well thought out approach. I’d personally like to see UH get some big name non conference games at home just so I can go watch.


    Normally we have a “tough” schedule but have lost to most of the good teams and have 2-3 wins at most against anyone with a pulse. That was the description of most of the HWSNBN teams and 2 of Gott’s. We often backed into the tournament, or got hot in the ACC tournament. The RPI might have been good, but we were a paper tiger. There’s reason that a Sweet 16 was the high water mark.

    This year we have a pathetically weak non-conference schedule that is probably even worse than we imagined when we put it together. Check out the win totals on some of those teams like Bryant, UKMC, Jacksonville, etc.. We played 2 good teams, 2 borderline bubble teams and went 2-2 and took a bad loss to N. Iowa. Our season changed when we beat Duke, and from there we’ve collected several quality wins. Keep rolling off the wins and we’d go to the ACC tournament actually trying to play for our seed, which hasn’t really happened since Hodge. I also think NC State is a dangerous team that most higher seeds would not want to draw.

    My fear is we’re just getting things going with the whole sport (and us) about to be blown apart…


    No freshman 83 – they use the old RPI formula. They evidently saw more correlation between for tourney bid teams than the newer RPI.

    What’s interesting about this year is that usually we don’t have a lot of wins vs quality opponents at this point. This year is obviously different.

    Wow the old RPI has more of a difference from the new one than I would have thought. Thanks for the info.


    My fear is we’re just getting things going with the whole sport (and us) about to be blown apart…

    No kidding. I’m surprised more people aren’t following this. I understand it is all innuendo now but just reading the tea leaves – it’s about to hit the fan.

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