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Reality check: Performance starting to outweigh potential

Welcome to Bracketville

We’re about to have our annual reality check.  It’s the point of the college hoops season when actual performance starts to outweigh potential.  Moving forward, projected selection and seeding will become increasingly reflective of a team’s actual profile and less about what we expect (or expected) said team to achieve.   Note: until we hit Championship Week, there will always be some potential figured into bracket projections.  The goal is still to provide both a snapshot of where we are while balancing realistic possibilities.

Early in the season, the bracket is mostly about potential – what do we expect?  Then, as teams begin building actual resumes – schedule strength, wins, losses, road performance, etc – we have better guidelines to use.  For some teams, that’s good.  For others, not so much.  Here are a couple of examples.

Memphis – The Tigers opened the season as a projected No. 3 seed based on talent and the expectations of a gaudy won-loss record in Conference USA.  Since beating Miami-FL (Nov. 15), however, Memphis has missed – in some cases badly – opportunities against Kansas, Georgetown, and Tennessee.  Thus, the Tigers have one win over a potential NCAA team to date – and Miami-FL would be among a handful of bubble teams on the edge if this were Selection Sunday. Factor in UM’s loss at Southern Methodist (RPI No. 271 – from CollegeRPI.com), and it’s easy to see why the Tigers’ actual profile is far different than what we anticipated in November.  That’s not to say Memphis can’t make a run to the C-USA title, but the Tigers’ performance to date would land them outside the Field of 68. 

Connecticut – The Huskies were projected to be at or just off the cut-line when we did our preseason bracket.  Even with Kemba Walker, there were more questions than answers about the Huskies.  Then came the Maui Invitational where UConn beat Wichita State, Michigan State, and Kentucky.  Since, UConn has also won a huge non-conference road game at Texas.  For the Huskies, reality has proven much better than expectations.  We still have a lot of season left, but UConn has taken itself from the bubble into the discussion as a potential No. 1 seed.

Moving through late January you may notice that some teams receive an adjustment based on a more complete profile.  Sometimes, teams drop becaues they are passed on the S-Curve.  Other times, a few big road wins completely rebuild how the Selection Committee views a resume.  Adjustments are also made because the value of good wins changes as we gain a better perspective about opponents.  The RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) also becomes a more valuable tool for organizing performance. 

Questions or comments?  Send a rebound.  Our latest bracket will be posted Monday, Jan. 17 here and at NBCSports.com.

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Categories: Current Updates, Team News
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