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Quick Takes: Inside the top of the Seed List

Dave2015It’s always fun to talk No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.  This season, we have a particularly high number of potential candidates.  As many as 12-15 teams could end up in play for those coveted eight spots.

For today’s purposes, I’ve selected nine teams to review, with the No. 1 seed line in mind, knowing only four can reside in those slots.  The next four would be No. 2 seeds.  First, let’s take a look at some metrics and composite rankings (since that’s all the rage, these days).  Note: Teams are listed in the order of the current seed list – heading into games on Monday, January 23.  Metric Rankings are through games played on Saturday, January 21 as none of the nine teams below played on Sunday.

Here are the metrics used:

  • RPI (Ratings Percentage Index)
  • BPI (Basketball Power Index – ESPN)
  • SOR (Strength of Record – ESPN BPI)
  • NPI (Nolan Power Index -Warren Nolan)
  • KP (Ken Pomeroy)
  • SAG (Jeff Sagarin)
  • ELO Chess (Warren Nolan RPI)
  • Composite (Average of the seven metrics – no weighting used)
Team
RPI
BPI
SOR
NPI
KP
SAG
ELO
COMP
Villanova
1
1
2
2
3
3
2
2.00
Kansas
6
6
4
5
8
6
1
5.14
Baylor
2
14
1
4
6
10
14
7.28
Gonzaga
12
13
3
1
1
5
5
5.71
Kentucky
3
3
13
3
2
1
3
4.00
Florida St
5
19
5
15
14
16
8
11.71
Arizona
8
16
11
7
11
14
4
10.14
UNC
9
5
8
9
7
4
7
7.00
UCLA
23
10
14
11
15
15
10
14.00

Different metrics value teams in various ways – in terms of organization, performance, and quality of wins/losses.  RPI data is easy to find and understand.  The BPI provides its own version of “Quality” wins (as do other metrics), based upon its rankings and organization.  Of the group above, Baylor leads that category (9-1), with Florida State next (8-1), followed by Villanova (6-1), Kansas (6-1), and North Carolina (6-2).  Kentucky, UCLA, and Arizona are all 3-2 using those same tools.  Gonzaga is 4-0.  As a side twist, Butler (No. 11 on seed list) is 8-1 in the QW category.  The Bulldogs are a couple of slots behind because of losses to Indiana State and St. John’s (with a huge escape Saturday at DePaul).

So how else do we go about separating teams that appear close together? Here’s an example: UCLA’s non-conference SOS hampers the Bruins’ overall profile.  It’s the primary reason why their RPI rating is so low compared to the others on the list.  If you subtract wins against 200+ RPI opponents, UCLA is 12-2, a nine-win drop.  So even though the Bruins have an incredible win at Kentucky, their total profile lacks the same number of high-end wins.  That’s in part why UCLA falls to No. 9 after losing at home to Arizona.  The Bruins are still very good, mind you.  And Saturday’s loss doesn’t change that.

Villanova is a clear No. 1.  After that, you could re-rank the teams in any order and not be wrong or right; it depends on what numbers you prefer and if you weigh one or two of the metrics or analytics more than others. Florida State, for example, has played only two road games.  UNC has played seven.  Those resume items should matter, too, as should a certain level of subjectivity.  In this case, Gonzaga might be given preference as a No. 1 seed (if teams were basically equal) because of regional considerations for Kentucky and others.

It’ll be an interesting race for the top two seed lines.  Thanks for your interest.  We’ll see how the metrics and landscape look in another month.

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