NCAA Tournament Resumes: The Unseed-ables

On our weekly Bracketology post at College Hoops Journal, my colleague Brennan Keller asks me questions about my bracket.  Oklahoma was a subject of one of those questions, and Brennan actually compared them to Illinois.  It got me thinking that both of these were interesting cases for the Committee.  

Oklahoma and Illinois, along with Virginia, seem to be the most vexing teams for Bracketologists.  I decided to look back in history to see where teams with similar resumes have ended up being seeded in the NCAA Tournament.  Let’s see how it shakes out.

Golf fans, doesn't Groce look like Jim Furyk?

Golf fans, doesn’t Groce look like Jim Furyk?

Team: Illinois / NCAA Seed: TBD / Conference Record: 7-8 / RPI: 33
The Illini are an interesting case because they have five top-50 wins but are just 7-8 in the Big Ten. Therefore, I wanted to see what major conference teams finished at .500 or worse in their league but still made the field.  Here are those teams:

2007-08

  • Miami FL / 7 / 8-8 / 36
  • Texas A&M / 9 / 8-8 / 37
  • Villanova / 12 / 9-9 / 42
  • Oregon / 9 / 9-9 / 56
  • Arizona / 10 / 8-10 / 45
  • Georgia / 14 / 4-12 / 99 (won SEC Tournament auto-bid)

2008-09

  • Maryland / 10 / 7-9 / 50
  • Michigan / 10 / 9-9 / 40
  • Minnesota / 10 / 9-9 / 46
  • USC / 10 / 9-9 / 38
  • Arizona / 12 / 9-9 / 49
  • BONUS Historical Note: The SEC was comically bad during this season.  It got three teams in the Dance, and Tennessee was its highest-seeded as an 8.

2009-10

  • Georgia Tech / 10 / 7-9 / 29
  • Minnesota / 11 / 9-9 / 62

2010-11

  • Missouri / 11 / 8-8 / 47
  • Connecticut / 3 / 9-9 / 6 (won Big East Conference Tournament)
  • Villanova / 9 / 9-9 / 45
  • Marquette / 11 / 9-9 / 49
  • Michigan / 8 / 9-9 / 52
  • Illinois / 9 / 9-9 / 44
  • Penn State / 10 / 9-9 / 48
  • Michigan State / 10 / 9-9 / 57
  • Tennessee / 9 / 8-8 / 41

2011-12

  • Texas / 11 / 9-9 / 57
  • West Virginia / 10 / 9-9 / 67
  • Connecticut / 9 / 8-10 / 33

You’ll note the 2010-11 UCONN team highlighted in RED.  That team was a once-in-a-long-while anamoly as they ran the table in the Big East Tournament, got a 3-seed, and won the National Title.  I changed the other teams whose final RPI’s were 40 or lower to BLUE font to call them out.  As you’ll see, none of these teams earned better than a 7-seed, and three of them were 10-seeds.

I currently have Illinois as a 7.  Where do you think the Illini end up?

Remind me again how they lost to Old Dominion?

Remind me again how they lost to Old Dominion?

Virginia / TBD / 9-5 / 73
Virginia is a crazy case.  They’re ranked 17th at KenPom.com but just 73rd by the RPI. They’re 9-5 in the ACC, but they’ve lost six games to sub-100 teams – including a neutral court loss to RPI #325 Old Dominion.  The Cavs have four games remaining and nine wins. Let’s look at teams that won at least nine conference games but ended up as double-digit seeds.

2007-08

  • Kansas State / 11 / 10-6 / 44
  • Baylor / 11 / 9-7 / 51
  • Villanova / 12 / 9-9 / 42
  • Kentucky / 11 / 12-4 / 57

2008-09

  • Wisconsin / 12 / 10-8 / 43
  • Michigan / 10 / 9-9 / 40
  • Minnesota / 10 / 9-9 / 46
  • USC / 10 / 9-9 / 38
  • Arizona / 12 / 9-9 / 49
  • Mississippi State / 13 / 9-7 / 63

2009-10

  • Minnesota / 11 / 9-9 / 62
  • Washington / 11 / 11-7 / 32
  • Florida / 10 / 9-7 / 59

2010-11

  • Florida State / 10 / 11-5 / 42
  • Clemson / 12 / 9-7 / 55
  • Marquette / 11 / 9-9 / 49
  • Penn State / 10 / 9-9 / 48
  • Michigan State / 10 / 9-9 / 57
  • USC / 11 / 10-8 / 73
  • Georgia / 10 / 9-7 / 53

2011-12

  • Virginia / 10 / 9-7 / 58
  • NC State / 11 / 9-7 / 38
  • Texas / 11 / 9-9 / 57
  • South Florida / 12 / 12-6 / 36
  • West Virginia / 10 / 9-9 / 67
  • Purdue / 10 / 10-8 / 41
  • Cal / 12 / 13-5 / 46
  • Colorado / 11 / 11-7 / 49

I’ve highlighted the teams with RPI’s of 60 or higher in BLUE here to give a more specific comparison to poor RPI teams who righted the ship within their conference schedule. Something of note is that only one team (2010-11 USC) had an RPI worse than 70.  I would think that’s because most of the time when a team in a major conference wins nine or more conference games, their non-conference schedule and results weren’t bad enough to leave their RPI that low.

I currently have Virginia in, and I think they’ll win at least two more of their four remaining games (vs Duke, at Boston College, at Florida State, Maryland).  I believe they get in, but what say you?

Underrated Coach of the Year darkhorse

Underrated Coach of the Year darkhorse

Oklahoma / TBD / 10-5 / 20
The Sooners have won nine games in the Big 12.  Many brackets have them in the 8-9 range, but I have them as a 6-seed. Lon Kruger’s team has 10 Big 12 wins, and with a remaining schedule of at Texas, Iowa State, West Virginia, at TCU, let’s assume they win at least two more.  Then we’ll look at teams who won at least 12 conference games and ended up in the 5-8 seed range.

2007-08

  • Indiana / 8 / 14-4 / 26
  • Michigan State / 5 / 12-6 / 14
  • Mississippi State / 8 / 12-4 / 41

2008-09

  • Marquette / 6 / 12-6 / 27
  • UCLA / 6 / 13-5 / 29
  • LSU / 8 / 13-3 / 33

2009-10

  • Michigan State / 5 / 14-4 / 18

2010-11

  • St. John’s / 6 / 12-6 / 25
  • UCLA / 7 / 13-5 / 38

2011-12

  • Iowa State / 8 / 12-6 / 31
  • Notre Dame / 7 / 13-5 / 47
  • Cincinnati / 6 / 12-6 / 35

The interesting thing here is that my criteria appeared to be more strict (only 12 teams listed here compared to 28 with Virginia’s criteria), but I have more “comparable” teams (six here to Virginia’s four).  Teams in BLUE here are teams with RPI’s of 30th or better.  These six teams have an average seed of 6th, which is exactly where I currently have Oklahoma.

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Posted in Bracketology Breakdowns, Brackets
4 comments on “NCAA Tournament Resumes: The Unseed-ables
  1. [...] Really good comparison work by Ryan Hester here, looking at how the quirky cases of a few bubble teams from this year have precedent in years past. [...]

  2. [...] like a lot of teams, Butler has a resume whose “beauty” depends on the eye of the beholder.  Wins over Indiana, [...]

  3. Joseph P Hoops says:

    I think Virginia will get in. Arrgh after that win over Duke – BC beats them on a 3 with 8 seconds left. They squandered a late lead – further signs of a young team on the road in the ACC. Early bad OOC losses were with key personnel injured – and the Delaware loss on Nov. 15 in particular hurt – with all 3 point guards out – because it meant no trip to madison square garden and games v. Kansas State and Michigan – and instead very lowly raned Lamaar and N. TExas (killed our OOC SOS).

    We have good Wins at Wisconsin, Tennessee, UNC, NC State, Duke, at Maryland, and FSU.. Look at our top 100 record and top 50/25 record. Since December we’ve only lost on the road to ACC teams.

    Look what Wake did to Miami, BC smacked maryland and came within 1 point of Duke and Miami (and just won at Clemson last night).

    Road ACC losses are just not ‘bad losses’. We have too many good wins to be left out – and clearly showed we are a tournament team with the eye test in final seconds loss at Miami and win over Duke in the last 2 weeks.

    Having said all that – we need to win at FSU tomorrow and home v. Maryland on Sunday to lock up our bid.

    Thanks for your work – good stuff.

    • Joseph,

      Thanks for stopping by and giving me a read. You’re obviously a huge Cavs fan and well aware that their profile keeps getting more and more confusing. I wrote the article you commented on the day BEFORE the Duke game and said I thought they were in already.

      After Duke, I moved them up. Then they go and lose to BC and I took them back out. I bet they end up making my final version and ultimately make the field, but it certainly wouldn’t be the biggest snub in history if they didn’t.

      Your points about their non-con schedule are good, and I hope the Committee room is aware of that info.

      The comment about road losses not being bad in the ACC certainly applies, and I think it stretches to all conferences. Winning on the road is so hard. That’s the exact reason why I had Ohio St as a 5 until last night and the reason they’ll be a 3 on my next update.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you like football (and fantasy) as much as you like basketball because I do a lot of writing on the topics in the fall.

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