Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Villanova vs Syracuse Preview

Overheard during Villanova at Georgetown, “There’s no way that Reynolds kid is a sophomore!”

Not everyone steps on the floor as a freshman and is a superstar like Scottie Reynolds. But Villanova freshman Corey Stokes has been steadily improving.

Corey Stokes, 3 pt percentage, by month
November – 2 of 13, 15%
December – 5 of 21, 24%
January – 7 of 21, 33%
February – 13 of 34, 38%
March – 4 of 20, 20%

Comment I’m going to regret: Does anyone really fear a team where two of the top players are named Corey? (See also Corey Fisher.)

Consider the following fictional profiles:
Team A: 2-8 vs RPI Top 50, 6-2 vs RPI 51-100
Team B: 2-4 vs RPI Top 50, 6-6 vs RPI 51-100

Clearly Team A should be preferable to Team B. They have the same wins and better losses. But why do I get the feeling that a lot of basketball commentators think Team B has the better profile. After all, Team A has failed in just about every opportunity vs an elite team. I say this because I think that some people are underrating the Syracuse bubble profile. I still don’t have them in the field today, but I think they are a lot closer than some people think.

Remember also that Syracuse has an RPI rating of 46 and Villanova has an RPI rating of 56. (This is mainly because Syracuse avoided playing teams 200+ in the RPI.) But it has the unintended effect of giving Villanova more credit for beating Syracuse than Syracuse received for beating Villanova. (The teams split the season series.) The truth is if you put the two profiles next to each other and really compare game-by-game, they come out very equivalent. To actually put Villanova ahead has to give them extra credit for controversial losses to NC State and Georgetown. But I’m not sure that will actually happen because so many teams have close losses at some point in the season.

No matter how you slice it, today’s game is a must-win for both teams.