I can imagine that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee members have one of the toughest jobs in sports. They have to take a pool of 350-plus teams, and narrow it down to 68 teams, 32 of which will automatically qualify. It seems like every year, the Bubble grows more and more, and it makes the committee’s job that much more difficult. An exercise that can help to separate Bubble teams is a blind resume test. In this exercise, you remove the school and the record, and you look at certain rankings and specific records to see how that separates them. The following are what we will look at for today’s blind resume test, and why we’re using them:
- RPI – Standing for Rating Percentage Index, this ranks teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule. It is believed that RPI plays a huge role in the selection of at-large teams to the NCAA Tournament.
- KenPom – KenPom is an advanced analysis of college basketball, and they rank teams based on a number of very specific statistics, many of which involve advanced algorithms. This gives an idea of how good these teams are based on their stats.
- SOS – Looking at strength of schedule alone can separate teams that otherwise might be super close. The committee likes to see teams that challenge themselves with a tough schedule.
- Conference W/L – The committee wants teams to be successful in conference play, and a lot of times, if a team performs extremely well in the beginning of the season, but struggles in conference play, that can keep them out of the tourney.
- Road W/L – Obviously, no team plays home games in the tournament, so teams that show the ability to win games on the road or on a neutral floor will have a head up on those teams who just dominate at home, and struggle on the road.
- W/L vs RPI Top-50 – The committee holds the RPI in very high regard, so a team’s record against the RPI Top-50 will be used as a measuring stick in some cases. Not only beating them, but just playing a lot of teams in the RPI Top-50 can enhance a team’s strength of schedule.
For today’s exercise, we will look at the blind resume for seven Bubble teams, with the idea that we need to select four of them for the final four at-large spots in the tournament. In the future, I will reveal the teams the next day, or two days later. But for today, I will reveal the teams at the end of the post, and which teams I would choose and why. So, without further ado, here are the blind resumes:
Conf. W/L: 5-3
Road W/L: 5-3
vs RPI Top-50: 2-3
Conf. W/L: 5-1
Road W/L: 8-1
vs RPI Top-50: 0-3
Conf. W/L: 3-4
Road W/L: 3-6
vs RPI Top-50: 3-5
Conf. W/L: 3-4
Road W/L: 5-4
vs RPI Top-50: 2-4
Conf. W/L: 5-2
Road W/L: 2-5
vs RPI Top-50: 4-3
Conf. W/L: 5-2
Road W/L: 4-3
vs RPI Top-50: 4-3
Conf. W/L: 4-3
Road W/L: 5-4
vs RPI Top-50: 3-4
The first thing that I like to look at is conference win/loss. Recent history shows that if you don’t go at least .500 in conference play, you won’t make the tournament. I tend to agree with the committee in that sense, and that eliminated Team C and Team D from consideration for me. I considered keeping Team C in the running because of their great strength of schedule, but they need to be better in conference play. Team C is UCLA, and Team D is Seton Hall. Two teams that could easily argue inclusion at this moment.
Next, I chose to look at the teams’ record against the RPI Top-50. I feel that this is a very good measuring stick, and two teams stuck out for me here. Both Team E and Team F currently have winning records against the RPI Top-50. I hesitate for now with Team E due to their lackluster RPI rank and SOS, but the rest of Team F’s resume looks good enough for me to have them as one of my four teams in. Team F is Washington. They are flying a little under the radar, but they are currently tied atop the Pac 12, and if they can win a couple more big games this year, and avoid bad losses, they should get in.
With four teams remaining, I decided it was time to look at the whole package to determine which teams I would have in. The first team that jumps out at me is Team G. Ranked 20 in RPI, with a very good strength of schedule and three wins over the RPI Top-50, I felt that they definitely deserved inclusion here. Team G is Colorado. I kept Colorado out of my field in Bracketology yesterday, but having done this blind resume test, I can see that their rankings and records are those of a tournament team. I’ll have to watch them more closely from here on out.
I love the fact that Team B is 5-1 in their conference and 8-1 away from home, but they don’t have a win against a Top-50 RPI team, and they have a weak SOS, so I hold off on them. Team A, meanwhile, has a winning record away from home, two wins over the RPI Top-50, and KenPom ranks them among the top 35 teams in the country. For those reasons, I decided to put them in. Team A is Cincinnati. They are a team that I have watched numerous times, and they have yet to impress me. They lost to my Temple Owls twice, and while talented, they seem to always under-perform. But without their name, they deserve inclusion at this stage. Their best route to the tournament is to win the AAC.
With the two teams left, the biggest differences are in RPI and wins versus the RPI Top-50. Team B is 55 spots ahead of Team E in RPI, but Team E has four wins over the RPI Top-50, while Team B has failed to defeat those teams in three attempts. The separator for me is Team B’s eight wins away from home. That put them over the top for me. Team B is St. Joseph’s. The Hawks have one of the best players in the country in DeAndre Bembry, but they haven’t been able to defeat a really good team yet this season. They have a road match-up with George Washington and a home game against Dayton left on their schedule. It would really help their resume if they can win both of those games. Team E is Clemson. The Tigers had a nice 3-game home winning streak against Louisville, Duke and Miami, but their overall resume still leaves a lot to be desired. They still have a lot to prove if they want to move off of the Bubble.
A blind resume test is a really good exercise in determining which Bubble teams have the best shot at making the tournament. Let me know which teams you would have in and why!