Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review and Takeaways From Top 16 Reveal

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has released its top 16 teams, and the one question I had going into the exercise was how much of a factor having the predictive-based metrics on the Team Sheets for the first time ever would be. The committee’s rankings show that it is playing more of a factor than in years past, and as such, bracketologists like myself will have to adjust our methodology accordingly. Below is the committee’s ranking alongside my projection and the composite projection from, a site that compiles the one hundred or so projections like mine:

The only team that made the top 16 that myself and most bracketologists did not project is Oklahoma. I personally was only able to nail down 7 teams exactly to their seed, far below my expectations (for reference, last season I had 12 of the teams seeded correctly for this exercise). However, this was the mid-term exam; a learning opportunity to prepare for the final examination on Selection Sunday.

The reason I say the predictive-based metrics are playing more of a factor than years past is highlighted by the following selections by the committee:
  • Cincinnati on the 2 seed line – their RPI ranking is 10th, but their consensus predictive-based ranking is 4th. While they do have a record of 12-2 against Tier 1 and Tier 2 opponents, none of the wins stand out when compared to the other teams ranked around them (their best win is a neutral court win over Buffalo). Their SOS is also poor relative to the top 16 teams.
  • Clemson on the 3 seed line – the Tigers are 4th in the RPI, but have a consensus predictive-based rankings of 18th. Their SOS is strong, and they have beaten North Carolina and Ohio State. A 3 seed would be the lowest the 4th ranked team in the RPI has been seeded in the past 5 years.
  • Purdue on the 1 seed line – Purdue is 11th in the RPI, but 3rd in the predictive-based metrics. An RPI ranking of 11 would be the worst RPI ranking for a 1 seed in the past 5 seasons.
  • The absence of Rhode Island from the top 16, who ranks 5th in the RPI. No team in the top 5 of the RPI has ever been seeded worse than a 2 seed in the past 5 seasons.

It sounds like the committee is adding emphasis on road and neutral court wins beyond the already stratified quadrant system. They mentioned how impressive the four 1 seeds’ records away from home was as a basis for their seeding.

I could easily act like a child and blast the committee and their entire process since it doesn’t meet my own biases like some people have already, but being the actuary that I am, I will study the discrepancies between my prediction and the committee’s actual results and will be determined to perform better on Selection Sunday.

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