Monday, February 13, 2017

NCAA notes by conference

Once the league season has taken shape, sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at the standings as a whole to see where the major battle lines have been drawn.  Usually, it is pretty easy to see who is a real contender based on the combination of non-conference and conference results.  Some teams seem to hit the wall every year (Clemson) while others drag ass early and then find their way (Georgetown, Michigan State).  With only 10 conferences really pushing for multiple bids, this is the softest bubble in years for these sub-.500 layabouts to take advantage of.  Here is a very rough sketch of the conference breakdown:

22 1 bids (with a couple with the potential to be two, but unlikely)
Big 10: top 5, 2 fringe
ACC: top 9, 2 fringe
Big 12: top 7, 1 fringe
AAC: top 2, 1 fringe
A-10: top 2, 1 fringe
Big East: top 4, 4 fringe
PAC 12: top 5, 1 fringe
SEC: top 3, 2 fringe
WCC: top 2
MVC: top 2
CAA: 1 fringe
OVC: 1 fringe
MWC: 2 fringe
MAC: 1 fringe
MAAC: 1 fringe
HC: 1 fringe
C-USA: 1 fringe
AE: 1 fringe

That means as of today, 63 of the 68 spots are more or less comfortably owned by a team that performed above its leagues median line.  There are a couple riskier interlopers (Syracuse, USC, TCU, MSU, the MVC) that are really a bad loss from turning their RPI upside down, but right now are high enough in their leagues respectfully.  And it's possible for Saint John's to finish in the top half of the league and still have no shot at an at large.

The fringe teams are the one who have compiled a fair at-large profile, but are buried with league losses and need to win their way in.  Obviously, 3 CAA losses is much worse than 9 ACC losses.  These fringe teams should feel that they either need a strong league finish to push ahead of the those teams above them, or compete against the other 23 teams for these 5 spots.  Sure, it helps to win the autobid to take the 3rd party out of the decision process, and all of these mid-majors should feel like that is the only way.  These teams are Wilmington (losing to Elon killed their at-large profile), Belmont (ditto their first league loss), Boise State and Nevada out of the MWC, Akron, Monmouth, Valpo, Middle Tennessee State (who far and away has the best at-large shot), and Vermont (who right now would have the second best shot if they ran the table and dumped to somebody in the AE final).

On the other hand, Michigan, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Texas Tech, Houston, URI, Seton Hall, Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, Utah, Arkansas, and Alabama have to feel that one or two more losses really hurts their chances.  Doing the "Team A/Team B" blind comparisons will lead to the major conference teams that have more opportunities to do damage; like Wake being 1-8 against the Top 50... just reeks of NIT despite the gaudy RPI... look up Southwest Missouri State 2004 if you want to see how a good RPI can get you snubbed... the Deacs would be in better shape if they dropped the NC State game but beat Syracuse.

I'll be generating new numbers today, but will take a couple days to get the bracket seeded... had to paint the house this weekend.

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