10 March 2014

NCAA ranks championship week edition

1) Arizona18-3
2) Louisville6-5
3) Florida15-2
4) Kansas17-8
5) Villanova16-3
6) Duke12-6-1
7) Wichita St7-0
8) Virginia13-6
9) Creighton15-6
10) Michigan15-6-1
11) Wisconsin18-5-1
12) Ohio St14-8
13) Iowa9-11
14) Michigan St13-8
15) Oklahoma St10-11
16) Syracuse17-2-2
17) Tennessee(!)8-7-4
18) Kentucky12-8-1
19) Gonzaga6-4-2
20) Cincinnati8-5
21) Pittsburgh10-8
22) UCLA11-7-1
23) VCU8-7
24) Iowa St14-7
25) North Carolina13-6-2

Notes: Arizona has struggled more than Louisville has played well to put those two in the top rung. I think we can say the injury to Ashley is going to be a problem in the tournament coming up as a result.

Right now I'd go with Florida or Kansas pretty safely to win the thing. Louisville doesn't strike me as a repeater with their soft schedule (only 11 meaningful games, some of the bubble teams have more "actual" wins than they do).

Yes. Syracuse has 2 losses out of the top 100. One of which was at home and both in the last month. Note that despite this, they haven't changed much in my ranking. This is because they just weren't that great of a team to begin with, and also because many of the teams below them were either too far behind or haven't played as well at various stretches.

Wichita is bold because they've already clinched a bid.

There are around 9 bubble spots for around 17 teams, maybe a couple more if you regard the RPI as a reliable judge of some strange team the committee thinks of as good. I still haven't looked at it at all, so I have no idea what teams that would be this year.

Tennessee has really jumped up over the last couple of weeks. They're still regarded as a bubble team by most because of the 4 non-top 100 losses, although the convincing win over Missouri this weekend should have helped a good deal. I think they make it but they can't lose to a terrible team in the SEC tournament. And there are a lot of those. Has to be Florida, Arkansas, or Kentucky that knocks them out basically.

Pitt has only 1 win over the top 50 so they're also considered a bubble watch team for some good reason. Other than Duke, all of their losses were close and other than NC St, they're all to top 30 teams. They should still get in simply because the bubble is weak. They've also been solid on the road (10-3).

Utah (6-8-2) is coming in rated at 32 and won't make the field unless they win the Pac-12 tournament most likely. They were 2-8 on the road. The Pac-12 is very good this year which helps, but they have few good wins.

Virtually every other bubble team is ranked between 38 and 60. This is what we should expect from year to year and it means most won't have a strong case for inclusion if they're omitted.

38) St Johns 7-10-1 : 1 win against the top 50, not as many wins/good record against top 100 as Pitt. Probably won't make it without a win over Providence at minimum in the conference tournament. May have to beat Creighton or Villanova.
39) BYU (5-6-4): Maybe safely in. Needs to win tonight to seal it, a loss to Gonzaga tomorrow wouldn't be a huge hit. Number of bad losses though. Wins over Texas, at Stanford, and Gonzaga basically the selling point here.
40) Florida St (7-10-2): Probably out. Probably shouldn't be. Close loss to Florida looks better now, wins over Pitt, VCU and UMass should help. Most of their losses were not close though.
42) Arkansas (9-9-1): Probably safe. 9 wins over top 100 is a lot for most bubble teams. Sweep of Kentucky and a win over SMU are the big ones. Blowout win over Minnesota also. Their biggest problem is a poor road record (5-8 in road/neutral games) otherwise they'd be very safe.
45) Xavier (9-10-1): Safer than Arkansas. Splits with Creighton and Tennessee, sweep of St John's, and a big win over Cincinnati. Also splits with the other Big East weaker bubble teams (Georgetown, Marquette, Providence). Only real minus is a loss to USC.
49) Minnesota (9-11-1). Possibly out, probably shouldn't be. Wins over Wisconsin and Ohio St and Iowa as well as Florida St. Home loss to Northwestern hurts the most.
51) Georgetown (7-12-1). More likely out. Wins over Michigan St, Creighton, and VCU are more than some of these teams can point to, plus a big win over Kansas St, but that may not add up to enough to overcome all these losses. Biggest problems are being swept by Seton Hall (a middling team), and a loss to Northeastern.
52) West Virginia (7-13-1). Almost certainly out. Bubble chances are fueled by a win over Kansas (without their the KU center and probable #1 pick), a blowout win over Iowa St, and a bunch of close losses (Oklahoma St twice, Wisconsin, Gonzaga). Loss to Virginia Tech is the only really bad one here. I'm not sure I'd put this team in, but it's a measure of how deep the Big 12 is that their 8th best team out of 10 still gets some consideration.
53) Dayton (9-6-3). Wins over Gonzaga and St Louis are the icing here, but they also beat George Washington and UMass and Iona, crushed Cal, and barely lost to Baylor. Getting swept by St Joe's doesn't help if they're the last two being looked at. They had a run of 4 losses in January that may have been from injury problems that they've since recovered from as well and also somehow lost to USC. But they're probably safe.
54) Colorado (9-9-1). This is probably the most interesting team in the group. Their best player (Dinwiddie) is out for the year and they've been a sub .500 team since he went down (7-8). They've struggled on the road. The only bad loss was to Washington, right after Dinwiddie got hurt (and UW is right on the cut line for "top-100") but they were crushed by both UCLA and Arizona both times they played. Those are the conference powerhouses. They do have a win over Kansas as the big one, plus over Stanford, Harvard, and Oregon and a split with Arizona St. I would hesitate a lot to put this team in the field between the injury problem and the road record. But right now they look very safe.
56) Providence (7-11). The big thing here is no "bad" losses (they were blown out by Villanova and Kentucky, but that's to be expected) and they have a home win over Creighton. But that's it. They've also got a ton of games they won against mediocre teams in OT or by under 5 points. I don't see this as a tournament team. Right now it's likely they are not.
57) Nebraska (11-10-1). Another interesting team. The 11 top 100 wins is very high even for non-bubble teams though. Three are over top 25 teams (Wisconsin, Ohio St, Michigan St). Right now they look safe. The reason they're ranked so low though... they're bad on the road (4-10), they lost to UAB, they were clobbered by Ohio St, Michigan, and Cincinnati, and barely beat Northwestern both times. I think they're in though.
60) St Josephs (7-7-2). Wins over VCU, UMass and the sweep of UD are the only real fodder. Losses to Temple and LaSalle aren't helpful. I'm not sure this team belongs in, but they also don't really DQ themselves the way some of the above teams did. Right now they look like the safest bubble team. Which is not as it should be, but they may belong in over some of the Georgetown-WVa groups of teams anyway.
62) California (7-11-1). Right now this looks like the first team out. Wins over Arizona, Arkansas, and Oregon. USC comes in as the bad loss for a 3rd team. This is another bad road team. I would not put this team in or pay much attention to them except that the a) the bubble is soft and b) the bracket matrix has them listed as getting some attention.

So far Green Bay's loss in the Horizon League has cost a conference the most seeding/competition wise. They were probably a 12 seed, rating at 63 right after Cal. Assuming Wright St wins the conference final, they'd be a 15. If it's Milwaukee, it's a 16. New Mexico St in the WAC is in a similar case, but isn't on the bubble the way Green Bay was.

Update: It sounds like Embid might miss some or all of the NCAA tournament. With him playing, I'd take Kansas to win. Without, I suspect they'd lose in the Sweet 16, possibly the Elite Eight if they got a favorable draw with some upsets. This is fairly similar to the year UConn won with Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor with Okafor's back causing problems prior to the tournament. Except a stress fracture in your back is kind of a bigger problem.

The other possibility might be Villanova, as Florida doesn't seem to score enough (they don't play fast) and Louisville looks to have loaded up on cupcake games.

The main notice I see by looking at the efficiency scores is that the top teams are much weaker than in past years, and may easily be weaker still once they are seeded (something the committee almost always does very poorly because of the RPI's use as a horrible metric). There's some balance in the middle 5-8 seeds (assuming they get 5-8 seeds), so expect some upsets and madness would be the rule of thumb here. Don't expect many favorites to survive.

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