One of my favorite topics of discussion in college hoops is what matters when evaluating a team. Is it the RPI? As you’ll see at the bottom of this post, I believe it’s not, while others believe it is. Is it advanced metrics like KenPom.com? Is it the strength of certain wins, or the weakness of certain losses? I’ll give you all the information and let you be the judge, but without the “brand names,” the results may surprise you.
To find out which teams are which, click here to open the answers in another window (but be sure you come back and read the rest).
- KenPom: Rating at KenPom.com as of February 7
- KenPom SOS: Strength of Schedule Rating based on KenPom.com ratings as of February 7
- vs KP Top-50: Record vs teams who were ranked 50th or better by KenPom at the time the game was played
- RPI SOS: Strength of Schedule based on RPI formula
- vs RPI Top-50: Record vs teams currently ranked 50th or better in the RPI
Which is the Best Team?
Right out of the gate, we get into a question of personal taste. If you value win-loss record – particularly in conference – then you hate Team C.
But let’s go ahead and add in the good wins and bad losses for each team. This may give away who the teams are, but it tells a big story so we’ll do it.
As I was compiling this data, Team C knocked off Indiana due to a busted defense on an inbounds play (easy hint there). That means, despite their poor conference record, all of these big-name teams are in my bracket. But where should they be seeded? I currently have Team A as an 8-seed, Team B as a 10-seed, and Team C either an 11 or 12 after their latest triumph. Am I right?
You Can Only Pick One
It is being widely speculated that one of these teams has a slight chance of getting an at-large bid but that the other does not. The only good thing about both teams is the conference record, but it’s clear they don’t play in a good league because both SOS ratings are so low. Would you give at-large consideration to either of these teams?
A hint before you see the answer: these teams are in the same conference, making their Conference Tournament Championship Game (assuming both make it there) extremely important. As of right now, I only have one of them in. Do you agree?
The Right Side of the Bubble (for now)
Much like the last example, we have two teams with great records overall and in conference. Team A is considered “ahead” of Team B, but should they be? If you are an RPI believer like Mr. Seth Davis claims to be in the link within the intro above, you’re selecting Team B here. If you’re a KenPom believer, you probably say both teams are “at-large worthy.”
If you like Team B above because of their SOS, what would it do to your opinion if I told you that these teams were also in the same league and that Team A’s “Good Win” is against Team B?
Little Guy, Big Guy
Next, let’s examine a “small-market” team vs. one from a Power Conference. Team A plays in a league ranked 9th by the RPI and 9th by KenPom. Team B plays in a league ranked 3rd by the RPI and 2nd by KenPom. Is 8-4 in a middling conference better, worse, or just as good as 5-5 in a power league?
Now that you think you’ve answered those questions, let’s add in the good wins and bad losses.
Can any team in the nation claim wins away from home over three top-50 RPI teams (including the #2 team, Miami)? I have found one other team likely to end up below the top three seed lines (though there may be more) that can claim three top-50 RPI away-from-home wins. Can you name them?
On the other hand, has any other team beaten both Louisville and Syracuse? If you value good wins over bad losses, Team A should not only be in the Tournament but shouldn’t even be sweating on Selection Sunday.
These teams will likely be fighting each other for a spot on the 4-line. Which team has a better shot at it?
Two for the Three
As the heading above would indicate, these teams are battling for position on the 3-line – an important place to be as the 3-seed avoids the 1-seed until the Elite 8 as opposed to facing them in the Sweet 16. I contend that only two of these three will make the 3-line. Which two should it be?
The RPI would dictate that Team C is a shoo-in. The good wins favor Team B. KenPom rating favors Team A, but KenPom SOS likes Team B again. I currently have Teams A and B on the 3-line with Team C right behind them as a 4-seed. Is that the way they should be?
Thanks for going through this exercise with me. If you want a hint as to what motivates me to select certain teams over others, keep checking out my footballandBRACKET-ology Updates, which will be more frequent as we get closer to Selection Sunday.