Monday, March 16, 2015

The 2015 NCAA Men's Division I 68 Team Bracket

OK after doing my own bracketology for a bit I have some thoughts on the actual brackets.

When I had last done my updates I was missing a few of the conference champs and then forgot to talk about them later when I talked about who would be eliminated.  In my brackets the teams who would have been eliminated were LSU, Mississippi, and Purdue.  All of those teams however made it into the tournament.  Only one team I did not have, other than automatic bid, did make it in and that was Indiana.  So instead of LSU, Mississippi, Purdue, and Indiana being out we are missing Old Dominion, Tulsa, Temple, and Colorado St.  So what do we take from this.  Well let's look at the numbers.

LSU  22-10, 1-1 v t25, 5-1 v t50, 56 RPI
Mississippi  20-12, 0-1 v t25, 5-8 v t50, 55 RPI
Purdue  21-12, 2-5 v t25, 7-7 v t50, 53 RPI
Indiana 20-13, 3-8 v t25, 5-10 v t50, 60 RPI

Old Dominion  24-7, 0 games v t25, 2-0 v t50, 46 RPI
Tulsa 22-10, 0-2 v t25, 0-6 v t50, 45 RPI
Temple  23-10, 1-2 v t25, 2-5 v t50, 34 RPI
Colorado St  27-6, 0 games v t25, 2-2 v t50, 30 RPI

So looking at this there are obvious differences.  One is all the teams that got in come from major conferences.  The other is that they played a lot more games against top 25 and top 50 opponents (these are Sagarin's numbers).  The four that got in have a combined 22-26 record against top 50 opponents as compared to 6-13 for the four who did not get in.  Not only did they play more games against top 50 opponents, but they also had a better winning percentage as a group.  I think what makes this really tricky for anyone looking at this is that the NCAA RPI is supposed to be the official rankings of the NCAA and the RPI is supposed to take into account a teams difficulty of schedule.  So when you see Colorado St sitting at 30th on the RPI you assume they are getting into a field of 68 whether or not they win their tournament.  Not so obviously.

Let's look at the teams who didn't get in one at a time.  We'll start with Colorado St.  Their obvious flaw was that they did not make the final of the Mountain West tournament and that Wyoming won the tournament getting an automatic bid.  This meant that Wyoming, San Diego St, and Boise State were all getting in and so it left Colorado St as the odd team out.  Still one has to wonder if they should not have gotten in ahead of Indiana.  It will be interesting to see how the Mountain West teams do in the tournament compared to Big 10 teams.

Temple and Tulsa.  For the second year in a row the AAC has been snubbed by the selection committee, last year it was SMU.  Tulsa's biggest sin we can see.  They were 0-6 against top 50 teams and lost in the semi-finals of their conference tournament to Connecticut.  Temple is not so easy to understand.  They went 1-2 against top 25 opponents and 2-5 against top 50.  Those aren't bad numbers and they lost in their conference tournament to the team that won it SMU.  I could see leaving out Tulsa, but not Temple especially when this is the conference which gave us last years champion.

Old Dominion is the easiest team to write off.  They finished 3rd in their conference during the regular season, then didn't even make it to the semi finals of their tournament.  I do think how a team does in their conference tournament counts, especially the mid major conferences.  Still they were 2-0 against top 50 teams.

So what have I taken away from this year's experimentation with bracketology.  Well games against top 50 opponents definitely count for something, which means that your conference matters.  If you are in the Big 12 or the Big 10 you are going to have a lot more games against top 50 opponents than a team in the Sun Belt or Conference USA.  Also the committee still thinks of the Big East in high regard, while not so the American Athletic Conference, which I find very interesting.


  1. The whole process is just so unnecessarily mysterious. It's really a shame, because, otherwise, the NC2A tournament is so much fun. I would support pretty much any correction that would put more doors and windows into the committee room.

  2. Agreed. I have no idea why they still keep it such a mystery. I find it odd that they give the Big East so much credit after it did very poorly last year in the NCAA. The last two Big East teams to win the tournament were Connecticut and Louisville and they are no longer in the Big East.

    To me Wilbon made a great point about a team like Murray State the other day. He was saying that if the committee is going to reward continued excellence, like picking Indiana and UCLA over others, then why wouldn't they treat Murray State with the same respect. They have been a competitive program for decades now and yet they get no respect for their accomplishments.

  3. The problem, of course, is that they allow enough team fanbases in that there's never the critical mass of really, really angry people. I mean, I think it's jive that Murray State got left out, but I'm not going to get really fired up unless my true team gets jobbed--and then, when that happens, it just sounds like sour grapes. So you get four or five pods of rage across the country every year and then you get a lot of #smh/#NC2A shrugging, but that's not enough to really pressure anyone into any change. Instead, a selection-committee member or two speaks confidentially with a few national writers about the logic behind the more curious decisions, and the writers start to understand how the committee arrived at their picks, and then the games start, and then--see!--20-10 StateU gets excited about playing up to its potential and knocks out mid-major-champion WXU, and that's that until another March rolls around.

  4. I'm fascinated by the fact that when Kentucky set up its own tournament for High School basketball, the folks in Kentucky did everything possible to eliminate any role for a subjective judgment -- even if that means Ballard has to play Trinity in the Round of 64.

  5. The part of the Kentucky setup that particularly interests me is that both the winner and runnerup of the district tournament advance to the regional.

    1. That's the only bit of mercy in the whole system. If you're good enough to get to the district final, they're willing to cut you a break. But THAT'S IT.

    2. Yeah, I get that. I just wonder if that was the intent of the design--to provide one level of mercy.

    3. Oh, yeah. I think it absolutely was designed for that purpose.

    4. My first guess is that it had something to do with host gyms hiring local refs for the district tournaments and you'd take both champions and runnerup to hedge against some kind of rigjob.