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21 Teams More Deserving than Utah St

3/14/2006

A lot of the focus on the weak brackets this year has been centered around the inclusion of Air Force. Jerry Palm of collegerpi.com called Air Force the 'worst at-large selection ever'. Although I agree with Jerry that Air Force shouldn't have made the tournament, the Air Force debacle absolutely pales in comparison to the travesty that is Utah State. Look at this 'tournament worthy' schedule:

WINS (22)
@ 31 Nevada
@ 91 Louisiana Tech
vs 91 Louisiana Tech
@ 146 Oral Roberts
70 Northwestern St
@ 167 Boise St
87 BYU
91 Louisiana Tech
106 Hawaii
130 Fresno St
146 Oral Roberts
149 Middle Tenn St
@ 249 Weber St
@ 261 San Jose St
167 Boise St
204 Ark-Little Rock
vs 261 San Jose St
@ 304 Idaho
232 Binghamton
261 San Jose St
285 South Dakota St
304 Idaho
LOSSES (8)
@ 31 Nevada
31 Nevada
@ 106 Hawaii
@ 117 New Mexico St
@ 130 Fresno St
@ 149 Middle Tenn St
@ 151 Utah
117 New Mexico St

If you're looking at 'body-of-work', then there's absolutely no way to justify Utah State getting into the field. Assuming that the last at-large spot is roughly the 52nd ranked team, the estimated probability of the typical 52nd-ranked team winning 22 or more games given Utah State's schedule above is 87.96%. If you assume that deservedness is a function of achievement...or the impressiveness or difficulty of a team reaching a certain level of achievement, we can compare Utah State's probability to other team's and their level of achievement (lower probability = more difficult = more deserving).

The estimated probability of the 52nd-ranked team...
Winning 18+ games given Cincinnati's (18-12) schedule: 20.25%
Winning 18+ games given Michigan's (18-10) schedule: 24.53%
Winning 19+ games given Florida St's (19-9) schedule: 31.25%
Winning 20+ games given Missouri St's (20-8) schedule: 35.22%
Winning 18+ games given Maryland's (18-12) schedule: 36.63%
Winning 24+ games given Hofstra's (24-6) schedule: 37.60%
Winning 18+ games given Louisville's (18-12) schedule: 50.97%
Winning 19+ games given Creighton's (19-9) schedule: 51.77%
Winning 20+ games given Colorado's (20-9) schedule: 59.28%
Winning 17+ games given Vanderbilt's (17-12) schedule: 66.18%
Winning 17+ games given South Carolina's (17-15) schedule: 72.22%
Winning 15+ games given Notre Dame's (15-13) schedule: 71.95%
Winning 18+ games given Saint Joseph's (18-13) schedule: 72.20%
Winning 17+ games given Rutgers's (17-13) schedule: 76.52%
Winning 16+ games given Miami-Florida's (16-15) schedule: 78.33%
Winning 17+ games given Clemson's (17-12) schedule: 81.02%
Winning 15+ games given Minnesota's (15-14) schedule: 82.13%
Winning 15+ games given Penn State's (15-14) schedule: 82.61%
Winning 15+ games given Virginia's (15-14) schedule: 83.79%
Winning 17+ games given Wake Forest's (17-16) schedule: 85.47%
Winning 19+ games given Nebraska's (19-13) schedule: 86.97%
Winning 22+ games given Utah St's (22-8) schedule: 87.96%

That's TWENTY-ONE teams that would have a strong argument that their body-of-work is superior to Utah State's. Absolutely astonishing. What's even more remarkable is the right behind Utah State is Depaul (12-15) and Northwestern (13-15). Ask yourself how up-in-arms would you be if DePaul or Northwestern got an at-large bid? Dial that down 1/10th of a notch and that's how you should feel about Utah State getting in.

According to Andy Katz, Utah State got in based on the fact that they took Nevada to the edge in the conference tournament finals before losing in overtime. I don't know if I'm more upset about Utah State getting in or for the fact that they got rewarded for losing. Since when are we rewarding losses? Of course, with the backwards logic of the RPI, where losing road games to quality opponents will help your RPI, maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise. Still, an overtime loss to Nevada? That gets you in? How many wins that a loss to Nevada equate to? Let's see...

The estimated probability of the 52nd-ranked team...
Winning 23+ given Utah St's (22-8) schedule: 75.10%
Winning 24+ games given Utah St's (22-8) schedule: 56.63%
Winning 25+ games given Utah St's (22-8) schedule: 36.02%
Winning 26+ games given Utah St's (22-8) schedule: 18.40%

Utah State would've had to have won 26 games instead of 22 for their season to be considered more impressive than Cincinnati's, therefore a loss to Nevada in overtime must be worth about 4 wins.

If we start rewarding teams for close losses, what kind of monster are we creating? Certainly each one of the 21 teams above probably had games that came down to the wire, at least some to teams tougher than Nevada. Should we start counting all of the following games as psuedo-wins? Maybe Notre Dame should be in then!

2/23 - Villanova 74, Cincinnati 72
3/8 - Syracuse 74, Cincinnati 73
3/4 - Indiana 69, Michigan 67
1/14 - Boston College 90, Florida St 87
1/22 - North Carolina 81, Florida St 80
2/4 - Duke 97, Florida St 96 OT
2/7 - Southern Illinois 66, Missouri St 64
2/14 - Wichita St 62, Creighton 61 OT
2/8 - Texas A&M 61, Colorado 58
2/8 - Alabama 77, Vanderbilt 74 OT
11/26 - Marquette 92, South Carolina 89 OT
3/12 - Florida 49, South Carolina 47
2/1 - West Virginia 71, Notre Dame 70
1/20 - Marquette 67, Notre Dame 65
2/21 - Connecticut 75, Notre Dame 74 OT
1/4 - Pittsburgh 100, Notre Dame 97 OT
2/4 - Louisville 89, Notre Dame 86 OT
1/24 - Georgetown 85, Notre Dame 82 OT
1/28 - Villanova 72, Notre Dame 70
2/11 - George Washington 64, Saint Joseph's 62
1/11 - Villanova 84, Rutgers 78 OT
2/1 - Syracuse 86, Rutgers 84 OT
2/8 - North Carolina St 86, Miami-Florida 77 OT
1/29 - North Carolina St 94, Clemson 85 OT
1/10 - Wisconsin 64, Minnesota 62
2/1 - North Carolina St 66, Virginia 64
12/3 - UAB 73, Nebraska 72

Note: By the way, if you believe Katz that Western Kentucky was the last team out, that's an ever bigger joke. Western Kentucky is 3 spots further behind Utah State, behind Depaul (12-15), Northwestern (13-15) and Old Dominion (21-9).

1 comments:

  1. Brian said...:

    Interesting.

    Since Katz also reports that Western Kentucky was one of the last teams out (if not the last), I was wondering where Western Kentucky would rank in this analysis.

 
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