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

College Basketball

Home Forums What the Heck is a Quadrant?

Viewing 21 posts - 26 through 46 (of 46 total)
  • Author
  • #130845

    Rye and wulfpack – that is my concern as well. I hope You thoroughly vetted Keatts. I know that it’s just our luck for us to dragged into this while the school down the road walks away from the biggest cheating scandal in college sports virtually unscathed (though t did hurt their women’s program.)


    Show me where it hurt the UNX women’s BB program.


    You will never know what the FBI has or what they want or who will be charged with whatever until it happens. Nothing like having that badge flipped out in your face to get your full attention.


    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.

    Funny I thought it was about something else? Agents, exposure, profiling talent so they can get more lucrative contracts, money to the coaches that showcase the agents players.
    But hey I’m just an old cynical dude, I’m sure you’re right Va, its about the purity and integrity of the game.
    I would also think the NCAA would be highly sensitive to ratings so they can sell advertising but again, I’m sure metrics wins out in this process. Just the businessman in me, the analytical engineer in me left 3 years out of college when I went into sales and marketing.


    Show me where it hurt the UNX women’s BB program.

    I’m not familiar with what happened there. Can you please summarize?

    Thhis may be all smoke and mirrors at this point – but my instincts say this is going to be cataclysmic.


    Rye and wulfpack – that is my concern as well. I hope You thoroughly vetted Keatts. I know that it’s just our luck for us to dragged into this while the school down the road walks away from the biggest cheating scandal in college sports virtually unscathed (though t did hurt their women’s program.)

    I don’t have any info that Keatts is involved in any way. But yea, I surely hope the proper due diligence was done. Other programs wanted him, too. So there’s that.


    The name of a 14 year old black kid in Charlotte.

    That was easy.



    UNX women’s BB took the fall for the fake class thing. So far has not urt them as far as I can see.


    That has very little, if anything, to do with what we’re talking about.


    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.

    Why would I follow it? I already know how the story will play out and UNC-CH will be as guilty as anyone but one of the few major HOF/top BB schools to walk away untouched while others, including plenty of sacrificial lamb programs, will be slaughtered. No major reform will come out of it either.

    If you doubt this then look at the NCAA stance on the Notre Dame program allegation that they had easy classes for athletes. Enough said.


    Easy classes has been going on for ages. This is much different and will alter the sport.


    Maybe but I am certain that UNC-CH (along with a few other untouchables) is involved (as I witnessed and knew first hand of drugs, money and no classes in the 1980’s at that fine upstanding institution) and I am very certain that they will come out unscathed. So I stand by my comment that I could give two sh*6$ about it because justice will not be served fairly if at all.

    I also strongly suspect that Coach K^2 will be railroaded regardless of whether he was involved or out (of which I think he definitely was not). So forgive me if I don’t follow another investigation that will lead to a laughable outcome of justice.


    Listen once you get below like 100 or so in the power ranking you’re pretty much splitting hairs aren’t you?

    To expand this line of reasoning…you are splitting hairs between 5 and 10…and 20 and 35…and 40 to 60. What is the Vegas line if these teams played each other….a point?! (Many times in the contradictory direction!)

    Said another way, popular rankings (RPI, coaches, AP poll, BPI) imply a linear relationship but as Goldenchain points out, this is not reality. In some ways the quadrant system reduces this issue because it cohorts wins/losses though that argument does not hold up because there is a circular reference and therefore a non-sequitur.

    The only folks that have any business ranking teams are the Vegas odds-makers. Those quant ex-Wall Street guys that set the books are breathtakingly accurate. Hire them and call it a day…(although of course Vega loves these silly rankings which are used by dumb money bettors to inform opinions.)


    The only folks that have any business ranking teams are the Vegas odds-makers.

    IIUC, the science behind sports betting is not purely predictive. It’s designed to set the point spread so that an equal number of people bet on each team. That’s why the betting line sometimes changes as the date for the game approaches. I know very little about sports betting, so if I’m wrong maybe someone can correct my misunderstanding.

    Right now, the Selection Committee is test driving five new algorithms as discussed above. Two of the new algorithms attempt to do the same thing as RPI…measure a team based on past accomplishments. The other three algorithms are designed to be predictive. If you look at the snip for State’s team sheets, there are three average rankings reported…one for the ones based on accomplishments, one for the three predictive algorithms and one for all six algorithms. AFAICT, no one knows exactly how these averages are going to be used.

    The issue with the predictive algorithms is that they all include the final point spread of the games. So if predictive algorithm(s) were the only one(s) used by the committee, teams would no longer pull starters at the end of the game because suddenly winning by 30 would be better than winning by 10. We’ve already watched this exact scenario play out in college football in the BCS days and the NCAA has already said that they do not want that to happen in basketball.


    Who is Al Gore Rithm?


    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.

    GC, I withdraw my previous response and want to take another crack at this.

    I don’t believe that they are trying to pass off responsibility onto an algorithm. But it’s obvious that they are trying to reduce complaints. I hope that they are trying to address the concerns of their member schools (ie coaches, AD’s, and conference commissioners)…and not idiots in the media. But there’s always the possibility that the changes are trying to address both.

    Specifically, the mid-majors don’t like the RPI and didn’t think that their road games against power conference teams were given enough weight. So the Selection Committee used the advice from the geek squad to come up with the different ranges in each quadrant (home/neutral/away) and are including five new algorithms in the mix. If the Selection Committee uses the exact same yard stick to measure everyone, then the mid-majors shouldn’t have any complaints if they come up short.

    But in the real world, losers are always going to complain. So it will be interesting to see exactly how the whining shifts this year.


    I may have been too quick to dismiss the positive effect that the quadrant system will have for mid-majors. I happened to think about Sendek’s tenure and remembered how few Top25 wins he got while at State. Which means that a lot of the wins that got Sendek and State into the NCAAT would be reduced in “value” if the quadrant system was used.

    Just another way of saying that Selection Sunday will be more interesting than normal this year.


    Who is Al Gore Rithm?

    Is he the guy who created the internets thingy while spittin a beat?

    john of sparta

    thanks ryebread;

    “agree that the committee’s “mix of inputs” leaves it open to them doing whatever they want.”

    and diverting responsibility: analytics says so.


    VA I’ll accept that 8:49 response. I do accept that the mid-majors want and actually need a bigger piece of the pie (because I honestly believe at some point the Powers 5s will likely split off somehow and the NCAA needs to groom a new base).
    There is still a part of me that thinks the ads fund the payouts (which is another reason the mid-majors complain when they get shunned) so there is a balancing act going on behind the scenes and then throw in the shoe-gate and people getting palms greased to showcase the wares of certain players, and some of those palms are likely on the committee.
    It will be interesting.


    people getting palms greased to showcase the wares of certain players, and some of those palms are likely on the committee.

    We’re talking about vast amounts of money…which could always affect the brackets. But I don’t think the any such conspiracy is involved for the following reasons:

    1) The committee members rotate on for a few years and then may never be involved again. Thus the shear numbers of people that would have to be bought off and then remain quiet for all time grows quickly.

    2) AD’s don’t on their own team. Conference commissioners don’t vote on anyone in their conference. So you would have to buy off members from other conferences to conspire and possibly hurt their own conference members.

    3) Statistical analysis (Dance Card) shows that the teams selected can be predicted based on that season’s results.

    4) Those that have gone through a mock selection event have concluded that such conspiracies are not possible:

    Some people come in with preconceived notions of how it works,” Worlock said. “Then they find out about some matchup conspiracies … even if the committee wanted to put on a mad scientist hat and create these juicy matchups, there’s just no time for it because of the bracketing principles.”

    In other words, if the real bracket contains a matchup between West Virginia and Cincinnati, it’s not because committee members are trying to tweak Bob Huggins.

    Dave Revsine, lead studio host for the Big Ten Network, did the mock selection a few years back. As he says of the exercise: “It debunks all the myths.”


Viewing 21 posts - 26 through 46 (of 46 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.