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.
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 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
In yesterday's Dribble.. I ranked all 73 BCS teams.. from UCLA to Colorado. I got a nice response about that list.. so I decided to do a ranking of the top "mid-major" leagues, ie, the 2nd tier leagues. The 2nd tier compromises the 62 teams of the A10, CAA, CUSA, MVC, MWC, and WAC. This leaves out the Horizon and the WCC which are the next in line. The Horizon actually has a higher overall RPI than the CAA right now, but this is based almost solely on Butler's hot start. No other HL team is in the top 110, but the CAA has 4 teams in the top 90.
1. Air Force 6-1 19-2
2. Memphis 6-0 16-3
I decided to try something new today.. a ranking of all 73 BCS Teams. Putting together this ranking was more time consuming than I expected.. so I won't include commentary. If you disagree or agree with the ranking, there's always the comment section below.
BCS Power Ranking, 1 to 73
1. UCLA 6-1 17-1
2. Florida 5-0 18-2
3. North Carolina 5-1 18-2
4. Wisconsin 6-0 20-1
5. Pittsburgh 6-1 18-3
6. Ohio State 5-1 17-3
7. Texas A&M 4-1 16-3
8. Oregon 6-1 18-1
9. Kansas 4-1 17-3
10. Virginia Tech 5-1 15-5
11. Duke 3-2 16-3
12. Marquette 5-2 18-4
Now that conference play has begun in earnest, it is worth taking a look back at the first half of the season and determining who has benefited the most, and the least, from the 2006-07 non-conference schedule.
Its always debatable when the RPI begins to "matter". Some say its always completely useless, others think its a valuable tool at the end of the season, and other's think it matters at the end of non-conference play. Non-conference play isn't officially over, but most leagues are entering conference play now. Leagues like the MVC only have 1 non-conference game left this week, and then the BracketBuster event later in the year. Most Pac-10 teams only have 1 non-conference game left, like UCLA who takes on West Virginia later in the year. Gonzaga's one of the few teams left with 3 non-conference games, with Nevada, Virginia, and Memphis still on the schedule. For my money, non-conference RPI is the real statistic that matters.. so now's basically the time when the RPI matters.
Not much going on in college basketball until next Saturday thanks to finals. There were some games of note on Monday.. but mostly I can take today's Dribble to discuss whatever nonsense I please.
The Games. New Top 25 member Oregon improved to 8-0 by blowing out Bethune- Cookman by 28. The big margin gave little used freshman Joevan (a potential All-first name pick) Catron a chance to shine. Catron, who had scored 9 points all season, poured in 15 on 6 of 6 shooting.
New Mexico State's won 5 in a row after a bad 1-3 start. The Aggies were supposed to be an NCAA Tournament contender, but they've still yet to win a game on the road. Senior Elijah Ingram has been hampered with achilles issues all year and has been coming off the bench. The point guard only played 11 minutes in Monday's easy win over UAPB. Transfer Fred Peete, who was supposed to be a major scoring force, has only been mediocre. Peete averaged 13 per game two years ago with Kansas State, but is only averaging 10 so far on a weak 38% from the floor. To make things worse, the shooting guard is just 15 of 27 from the line.