Answering the Burning Questions: Part 2
Luke Winn has posed 10 burning questions for Selection Sunday. I'll give a shot at answering a few.
6. Did Illinois really do enough this weekend to make it in the dance as an at-large?
7. How scared should Cal be of getting relegated to the NIT?
8. Could Virginia Tech get snubbed again?
9. Is Utah State in danger after losing in the WAC title game?
I've combined most of the at-large selection questions into one. There are by most accounts at least 10 teams still under public debate for the final at-large spots. (Illinois, Florida, California, Virginia Tech, UTEP, Utah State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Rhode Island, Seton Hall).
The debate between Virginia Tech and California references is particularly intriguing because it combines two of the traditional philosophical at-large questions: how much do non-conference scheduling and conference standings matter? (SOS numbers from collegerpi.com)
Cal clearly has the edge in non-conference strength of schedule (and performance as measured by non-conference RPI). They also won the regular season title in what is traditionally a power conference. The problem is that the Pac 10 is not a power conference this season.
To help answer the question of which team has a better resume, let's take a look at their wins and losses side-by-side. We did something like this earlier this week, but I've tweaked the layout to make comparisons easier.
Again, the ideas is to match each team's wins and losses ranked by opponent RPI to assess the relative quality. The Avg column represents the average opponent RPI rank over all games up to that point. For example, through their best four wins Virginia Tech's opponents averaged a 41 RPI rank and Cal's opponents averaged 55; in this case VT's average opponent is ranked higher than Cal's so their rank is highlighted. Over the full profile, this makes it easier to see trends.
|Virginia Tech (23 wins)||California (23 wins)|
|88||82||Georgia Tech (32)||A||32||42||H||Washington (42)||93||81|
|70||59||Clemson (34)||H||33||46||H||Murray St. (49)||75||70|
|87||83||Wake Forest (36)||H||34||52||H||Arizona St. (64)||62||46|
|103||94||Seton Hall (61)||N||41||55||A||Arizona St. (64)||78||70|
|74||70||North Carolina (88)||H||50||63||H||UC Santa Barbara (94)||87||66|
|81||66||Miami FL (95)||H||58||69||H||Arizona (98)||95||71|
|71||59||North Carolina St. (97)||H||63||75||H||Iowa St. (113)||82||63|
|72||52||North Carolina St. (97)||A||68||80||H||Southern California (114)||67||59|
|74||62||Georgia (104)||H||72||85||A||Pacific (128)||79||54|
|63||62||Boston College (122)||H||77||90||H||Princeton (133)||81||60|
|61||55||Virginia (126)||H||81||94||H||Oregon (139)||89||57|
|76||71||Virginia (126)||A||85||98||N||Oregon (139)||90||74|
|71||60||Campbell (183)||A||92||101||A||Oregon (139)||64||49|
|66||64||Penn St. (193)||A||100||104||N||UCLA (141)||85||72|
|70||64||Iowa (209)||A||107||107||A||UCLA (141)||72||58|
|74||66||Delaware (235)||N||115||109||H||Jacksonville (148)||79||47|
|59||46||NC Greensboro (248)||H||123||112||H||Stanford (164)||92||66|
|69||55||Brown (253)||H||130||115||A||Stanford (164)||71||61|
|73||50||Charleston Southern (280)||H||138||118||H||Detroit (171)||95||61|
|85||50||Longwood (281)||H||145||121||H||Washington St. (174)||86||70|
|98||73||Virginia Military Inst (302)||H||152||123||A||Washington St. (174)||93||88|
|71||34||MD Baltimore County (327)||H||160||126||H||Oregon St. (185)||65||61|
|72||30||North Carolina Central (342)||H||168||136||H||Utah Valley (339)||85||51|
Through their first 12 wins, VT's opponents were on average about 10 RPI spots better than Cal's. After that, it swings quickly in the other direction. If you care more about wins at the top of the profile, the Hokies are your team.
|Virginia Tech (8 losses)||California (10 losses)|
|60||80||Boston College (122)||A||122||185||A||Oregon St. (185)||64||80|
|65||70||Miami FL (95)||N||109||163||H||UCLA (141)||75||76|
|75||82||Miami FL (95)||A||104||147||A||Southern California (114)||63||66|
|64||78||North Carolina (88)||A||100||135||A||Arizona (98)||72||76|
|58||63||Florida St. (41)||A||88||116||A||Washington (42)||69||84|
|100||104||Maryland (22)||H||77||104||N||Washington (42)||75||79|
|50||61||Temple (12)||N||68||93||N||Ohio St. (26)||70||76|
|55||67||Duke (3)||A||60||82||A||New Mexico (11)||78||86|
The Hokies have two fewer losses than Cal, and their worst losses are better. If we care more about the quality of a team's better wins and losses, Virginia Tech comes out there clear winner here. Of course, the numbers are not the only thing the committee uses, but this kind of comparison does a better job of simply looking at records against arbitrary groups like RPI Top 50.
Obviously, we can't show head-to-head comparison between all of these teams (10 teams = 45 comparisons), so I'll do a few interesting ones in separate posts and link to them here.