Selection Sunday Post-Mortem

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    I wish that I caught the name of the Selection Committee chairmen that went on CBS to discuss the decision-making process and answer the standard group of critics.
    [See the full post at: Selection Sunday Post-Mortem]


    Yup. Bonnies got a raw deal. As did the Aztecs I thought.


    For what it’s worth, the NIT bracket put the Aztecs as a 2-seed. I would guess that the 1-seeds were seen as the first four out of the real tournament.


    2. Michigan’s top-50 wins prevailed over its lack of top-100 wins.

    The burning question with regards to Michigan’s candidacy as an at-large team was whether the selection committee would value the Wolverines’ four signature wins and no bad losses over the absence of any other quality wins. The answer: yes. When Joe Castiglione made his media rounds after the Selection Show to explain the committee’s decisions, he repeatedly mentioned the number of RPI top-50 wins that bubble teams did and did not have. He didn’t mention the records that bubble teams had against RPI top-50 competition. Just the number of wins. And, when you look at the bubble teams that did and didn’t make the cut, it becomes apparent how much of an impact the metric had.
    Bubble Teams’ RPI Top-50 Wins Bubble Teams in the Field

    Number of RPI Top-50 Wins
    Syracuse 5
    Temple 5
    Michigan 4
    Tulsa 4
    Vanderbilt 2
    Wichita State 1

    Bubble Teams Out of the Field Number of RPI Top-50 Wins
    St. Bonaventure 3
    St. Mary’s 2
    Monmouth 1
    South Carolina 1
    San Diego State 1
    Valparaiso 1

    It’s not a perfect cut — Vanderbilt’s inclusion remains to be puzzling for a variety of reasons — but the committee generally preferred the teams with more RPI top-50 wins.

    This sent a message to the mid-major programs to screw off. High-major schools always will have more chances to play RPI top-50 competition and will host a fair share of those games. On the other hand, the mid-majors are stuck trying to schedule those games for the non-conference slate and usually are forced to play them on neutral sites or in hostile venues. This gives a team like Michigan, which was 4-11 against RPI top-50 teams, a decisive advantage. Each of St. Bonaventure, St. Mary’s, Monmouth, and Valparaiso had at least a .500 record against RPI top-50 teams, but, together, they played a total of 13 such games. If those mid-majors had the opportunity to play 15 games against top-50 competition like Michigan, maybe they would have had more than four signature wins.

    But they didn’t get that chance, and Michigan ultimately benefited from it.


    In the case of Syracuse, you look at what they did,” Castiglione said. “They had five top 50 wins. Three of those came away from home. Eight top 100 wins overall. We noticed the neutral site win over UConn, which won their conference tournament today, the netural site win over A&M, which was co-champs of its league, and the road win at Duke.”

    Syracuse had a relatively low RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) of 72. The RPI is commonly referred to, in part because it’s on the NCAA’s website, but Castiglione noted that the NCAA selection committee uses other criteria when considering teams. The RPI is only used as a comparision of wins.

    “Our conversations aren’t just about the RPI,” Castiglione said.

    Castiglione also said Syracuse was an example of having to consider unbalanced conference schedules. Because of the ACC’s unbalanced schedule, the Orange played one of the toughest schedules in the ACC.

    “They played North Carolina twice and Pitt home and away,” Castiglione said, “and they didn’t get the chance to play Virginia, Louisville, Duke or Miami at home.”

    Note that both my simplistic method and the actual conference SOS calculation shows that Syracuse had one of the WEAKEST conference schedules. The committee actually focused on the away games…which surprises me.

    Strength of Schedule Analysis


    7 min ESPN radio interview with Castiglione.


    SI interview with Castiglione.

    On including Tulsa: “They were actually the last team placed into the field. It was a very, very difficult decision. We looked for distinguishing factors. In the case of Tulsa it was their four top-50 wins, including a road win over SMU. They had eight top-100 wins, and to add some context to that—six of the eight top 100 wins were over teams in the tournament. Those kinds of things begin to distinguish them.”

    On the exclusion of St. Bonaventure: “In the case of St. Bonaventure, their non-conference strength of schedule was outside the top 150. They also had five losses to teams that aren’t in the tournament. In that last group of teams, in which St. Bonaventure was considered, they were being compared to teams like Syracuse and VCU, and in those particular cases they had head-to-head losses to each of those teams. I guess you could say it hurt their chances.”


    • Speaking of which, the committee once again reinforced a truism I always keep in mind when doing my own mock brackets – good wins (RPI top 25 or top 50) are by far their most valued criteria. It’s why Syracuse (5-6 vs. top 50), Temple (5-6) and Tulsa (4-5) got in but Saint Mary’s (2-2), South Carolina (1-1) and Monmouth (1-1) did not. Monmouth’s three sub-200 RPI losses did not help, either.

    • I’ve noticed for a couple years now that the committee is paying closer attention to advanced metrics like, particularly in evaluating bubble teams. Committee chairman Joe Castiglione cited them as to why Wichita State, 12th on KenPom, got an at-large berth despite an underwhelming resume. Vanderbilt (27th) also had that as its main calling card, while NIT-bound St. Bonaventure likely got dinged for its No. 79 rating.

    • That said, they selectively ignored the same criteria for No. 34 Saint Mary’s (out) and No. 86 (!!) Temple (in).


    The final RPI Rankings from the NCAA has Syracuse at 71. This is the lowest ranking for a power conference team that I remember.

    As of this morning, ESPN (who I used all year) had them at 68:

    CBS has Syracuse at 72:


    Plus, anybody who has actually WATCHED Syracuse play…woof. They don’t even begin to pass the eye test.

    I put San Diego State in for Syracuse, St. Mary’s for Tulsa. Maybe the Bonnies for Meechigan, but I don’t really care too much about that one.


    As I scanned the “bitch” columns today, there was more whining for Monmouth than for the Bonnies…which I really don’t understand. The media types are giving Monmouth “credit” for scheduling UCLA and Georgetown even though both teams hit various levels of suck this year.

    I found several articles that talked about using “advanced metrics” this year; but they didn’t get specific about exactly which ones the Selection Committee uses. Some sites (like Sagarin) give credit for close losses…the value of which has been debated around here in past years.

    PTI had Bilas on to talk about the selection process last week. He hit various levels of stupid in some of his remarks, but pointed out something that I had never completely considered. Teams like Michigan (and State in past years) get another shot at key wins in the conference tournament and many mid/low majors don’t get this extra shot. Bilas used this distinction to talk about the unfairness of the selection process.

    It’s funny that there is a simple way to make sure that the mid/low majors don’t get their regular season champs passed over. Simply do away with their conference tournament. If you want to gamble, don’t complain when you get burned.


    Plus, I’ve hated King Rice since I was in junior high. Monmouth can get bent.


    re: ‘Cuse – thanks for validating my disgust 🙂


    If you look at things with the idea that a) there should be some type of rules B) these rules should be applied regardless of how you feel…you will just get frustrated. You wont find thoughtful analysis on that network on a regular basis.

    It’s nice to get the players perspective and coach’s perspective, but from an analytical standpoint they fall a wee bit short.

    Alpha Wolf

    You wont find thoughtful analysis on that network television on a regular basis.


    Television has turned into a vast wasteland where critical analysis is all but banned. “Sell the sizzle, forget the steak!” And these days, there doesn’t even need to be any steak at all.

    That two hour selection show yesterday was definitive proof of that phenomenon.


    The only reason Syracuse made it is because Jim Boeheim is their coach. Period.

    The Bonnies and Aztecs did get shafted.

    The tv ratings determined many of the pairings. As usual.

    The big shots can talk Cinderella all they want, but the truth is, they don’t WANT Cinderella to hang around at the Dance. Not good for tv ratings.

    That’s the Holy Grail. And if they want to make sure Cinderella is an even more infrequent guest in the years to come, just move the shot clock down to 24 seconds. The 30-second clock put a major hurt on many teams this season, including our own Wolfpack.


    13ot – as far as I can tell that clock did nothing to make the game better, of course, only an idiot would have thought it a solution.


    Random thoughts:

    If the Aztecs were so good, then why did they only get a 2-seed in the NIT?

    The fact that the Dance Card professors can get so many teams right means that there is some consistency from year to year. But there are still decisions to make and anyone that has worked in a committee knows that the consensus is not always correct….ie What is a horse designed by a committee? A Camel.

    I’m not sure how to take this talk about “advanced metrics”. What are they? When are they used?

    They problem I have with the “eye test” is its limited nature. If someone had only watched the State/Duke game in the ACCT, their judgement of the Pack would probably be skewed. If you only watch someone dominate lesser opponents, then are you sure that you can judge how they will perform against the nation’s best?

    gso packbacker

    Monmouth’s bench deserved an NCAA Tourney bid more than their starters. As for King Rice, ugh, ugh, and double ugh. Even many Carolina fans I knew didn’t like him and they tolerate about anything for Wins.

    Personally, St. Bonaventure got shafted in my opinion, but my grandfather is a HOFer there so color me biased.

    Also, why the Mid-Major bitching. No data here, but seems like every other year they’ve gotten the benefit of the doubt. Turnabout is fair play I say.


    7 min ESPN radio interview with Castiglione.

    Interesting and short interview

    Tulsa had road win against SMU along with the top-50 and top-100 wins that those left out didn’t, including 8 wins against tournament teams. (Last team in)

    St Bonny (First team out) weak OOC SOS (150+). 5 losses to teams not in tournament. Compared to VCU, Syracuse, and Tulsa not as good a resume.

    Recognize that Monmouth has few opportunities against Top 100 teams, 3-4 record. Biggest factor was 3 losses to teams outside Top 200.

    Syracuse had 5 Top 50 wins, with 3 of those away from home (road or neutral). Boeheim’s suspension not really a factor. Thinks Syracuse had tough conference schedule because they played most of the top teams in ACC only once and most of those were on the road.


    Say what you will, but as a lifetime Brown Indians/Bonnies honk, they was robbed!

    @ gso packbacker: If your grandfather played in the era of ’61-71, I would have watched him play (live) often.


    I’m not sure how to take this talk about “advanced metrics”. What are they? When are they used?

    Best sources I’m aware of are KenPom and associated the “Four Factors” concept regularly used by BTP. Also the player efficiency and ‘win shares’ concepts on (I think) Basketball Reference. I like more data in general, so I think highly of “advanced metrics”, but other people may say they would disregard data in order to make their own assessments.

    Directly quoted from Steven Muma at BTP today re: NCSU Women’s team, and relevant to your question:

    “The RPI is a terrible metric, regardless of what anyone hopes to capture with it. It is inherently broken. It should not carry the weight it does, not in 2016 when we have found countless superior ways to evaluate teams. We still live in a world of RPI-as-tiebreaker and it’s hurting college basketball. I’ve come to terms with it, but I don’t have to like it.

    NC State’s women’s basketball team did not earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. I thought they should have been in the tournament, but I’m biased. I think the death blow was a 1-8 record against RPI top 50 teams, but RPI ignores the actual legitimate quality of teams, given that RPI is calculated by your idiot cousin breaking a calculator over his knee and squinting the results.”

    Ha… Take that as you wish.


    Best sources I’m aware of are KenPom and associated the “Four Factors” concept regularly used by BTP.

    Are you saying that you like KenPom’s rankings or are you saying that the selection committee used his rankings?

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