Does parity exist? More so than a couple years back? Is the gap between the best and worst really shrinking? These were the questions I had in the back of mind as I did some RPI research this afternoon.
I took a look at the records of the top teams over the last handful of seasons or so, since 1999. Particularly, I focused on how many Top 50, and Top 100 RPI wins the best teams had each season. For example, going back to 1999, Michigan State had the most Top 50 RPI wins with 12. The most Top 100 wins that season was Duke with a whopping 26!
From 1999 to now, I tried to see if there was a pattern of the top teams having less good wins and the bottom teams having more good wins. This, it seems to me, would be a sign of parity. All the talk about mid-majors and whatnot, I wanted to see if it really made a difference.
Here it is.. the list you've all been waiting for, the Top 20 stars of Saturday's college basketball action. You'll notice there's only 18 listings, because 2 pairs of teammates are stuck together on the list..
1. Shan Foster/Derrick Byars - Vanderbilt - 24 points each in he huge win over #1 Florida. Byars also added 8 assists for good measure.
2. Carl Elliott - George Washington - The senior guard had the first triple-double in GW's history. He scored 17, had 12 boards, and added 11 assists in a league win over Temple.
3. Brook Lopez - Stanford - The Cardinals beat up on tumbling Oregon behind 26 and 10 boards from Lopez. It was the heralded twin's best career game, and he also added a couple of blocks.
I'm writing today's Dribble in the middle of what has already been a rather exciting day.
#1 Florida fell earlier to unranked Vanderbilt. A week or so back I wrote a Dribble about how the top 10 teams would fare the rest of the season. I predicted the Gators would fall at either LSU or Tennessee, but they'd easily get by the Dores. Well, I was completely wrong on that one. Vandy's two stars, Shan Foster and Derrick Byars, each brought their A games against last year's champions. The two combined for 48 points on 20 of 35 shooting. Vandy was 35th in the AP voting last week and should move up substantially after the big win.
I took a day off from the Dribble yesterday because I was working on CHN's new "FanBlogs". Basically you can have a blog about anything basketball (not even just college) related on CHN.. simply register (on the left) if you haven't already.. and then click on "My FanBlog" and start posting away. Right now we're in a developmental stage, so the blog posts don't appear on CHN's frontpage and I'm not promoting in full yet. But if you look on the right hand sidebar of this page, you'll see a box for "Recent FanBlog Posts" where you can see two of the readers who have already got started.
You should definitely think about having your own blog on CHN. You'll get an archive for your blog posts, your own user profile with a bio and a picture, and each week the best FanBlog posts will be featured on the main page.
College basketball scheduling couldn't be more uneven. In non-conference play, teams pad their records with easy home wins, while others are forced to play on the road. Some conferences like the ACC are filled with good teams from top to bottom, while others like the CUSA have one lone good team. How to rectify this situation? Sure, there's the RPI.. but it doesn't take into account venue so its relatively meaningless. The Sagarin's much better, but most people don't even know about it. As far as I'm concerned, only a team's record in "quality" games should count. Quality games are games that if you win, its flat out impressive. I've devised a ranking which awards you for playing and winning quality games, and hurts for bad losses.
I tend to usually think that the media and the public overrate Duke.. but suddenly the Blue Devils are underrated. Perhaps the most underrated team in the country.
First off, they will make the NCAA Tournament. Lets all just calm down. The #10 Pomeroy, #14 Sagarin, #18 RPI, and #26 AP team will make the NCAA Tournament. If the Tournament started today, not only would they make it, but they'd still probably deserve a 5 or 6 seed.
The ACC is solid. Look at Maryland.. just 4-6 (8th) in conference play, but they'd probably be the 3rd best team in the Big Ten. Look how they beat Illinois in Champaign and Michigan State on a neutral court. There's only a few easy games in the league.. and the problem for Duke is that they don't have the lower tier teams left on the schedule. Only BC, GT, Clemson, Maryland, and UNC left.. and only 2 of those 5 are at home. So going 3-2 or better in those games will be very hard, especially since you figure the game at UNC is basically a guaranteed loss. But I think they'll win the road game at BC, then the home games against Maryland and GT which would put them at 8-8 in the league. That should still be good for a very favorable seed.
Sorry MEAC and SWAC.. you really don't deserve to have a team in college basketball's ultimate tournament. Here is what the real field of 65 would look like. You'll notice there's no 65th team in here.. the play-in game has no business in the Tournament.
I tried to use some of the basic seeding principles in putting this list together. No teams from the same conference will meet in round one. Sites are selected based on an S-curve, and geography is taken into account. Because this includes more teams from the same repetitive conferences, conference foes are allowed to meet as early as the 2nd round in this exercise.
I was already thinking this morning about how this Sunday's Top 50 ranking would pan out after some of this past week's results. While looking at last week's ranking I was surprised at how low some of the current Top 50's were ranked in the preseason.. but also how similar a lot of the teams were as well.
What I decided to do was to compare all of our current Top 50 team's with their preseason ranking.. and also compare the preseason Top 50 with our current ranking. Then for kicks, I made some comparisons between the CHN Top 50 and the RPI and Sagarin ratings.
Teams Unranked in Preseason, Now Ranked
Thoughts, thoughts, and more thoughts..
- Most people find this hard to believe.. but I don't really read ESPN.com's basketball coverage (or any other site's for that matter). Honestly, I rarely pay attention to what goes on over there unless a reader or a message board poster highlights something. Apparently they set up a Mock Selection Committee, which I only heard about after reading an email from a reader by the name of Travis Klein. Looks like a cute endeavor on ESPN's part.. but what's really the point of this? To highlight what we already know about the process.. that's its completely subjective, arbitrary, and biased? If that's the point, then I guess they succeeded. What's really odd about the whole thing is how it took into account some ridiculous occurrences like Memphis losing the CUSA and Evansville winning the MVC? Did they just roll a dice or throw darts? And why did only Mid-Major powers lose in their mock up (Butler, Memphis, SIU/Creighton) all fell? Hell, lets make believe Rutgers wins the Big East tournament! I guess even this "shake-up" biased towards the power-conferences.. apparently only mediocre mid-majors win their conference tournaments.. but mediocre power conferences teams (ie, Syracuse last year..) never make such runs.
If you want Duke/UNC talk.. go elsewhere.. this is a Tobacco free Dribble.
- The Pac-10's learned the key to getting more national recognition. Have your 2nd tier teams play joke non-conference schedules to build up the wins. Oregon's Non-Conference SOS: 254. Washington State's: 297. Southern California: 187. Out of the Top 50 RPI teams in the country, there's only 2 as bad or worse than those 3 Pac-10 schools. Clemson played the 204th best schedule, and Kansas State played the 198th.
- After starting 3-0 in conference play, Clemson looked like they weren't going to repeat last year's horrible collapse once the ACC schedule started. But then the Tigers lost 6 of 7 to drop below .500 in the ACC. A home win over FSU bounced them back to .500, and now they have winnable games at Wake and vs Maryland which should push them to a solid 7-5.