Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Non-Conference Review, What's the Worst Loss of the Year?

High-Major Conferences (Non-BCS)

Rank according to RPI – Sagarin – Pomeroy

MWC: 6 – 7 – 7
MVC: 8 – 8 – 10
A-10: 9 – 10 – 9
CUSA: 10 – 9 – 8
HOR: 11 – 11 – 11
WCC: 12 – 12 – 13

The CAA, WAC, MAAC, and MAC are often mutli-bid leagues, but none are having particularly good years. Consider this:

Win against BCS teams

That’s fewer than:
Summit 4
American East 3
ASun 3

Wins against BCS teams are not a factor for the selection committee, but since the RPI ratings are in such great flux at this point of the season, I feel like this provides a decent barometer of how non-BCS leagues are performing:

UNLV beat Louisville
UNLV beat Arizona
Utah beat Oregon
Utah beat LSU
Utah beat Ole Miss
TCU beat Colorado
TCU beat Texas Tech
New Mexico beat Ole Miss

The MWC may be the 6th best conference in the RPI, but that is more because of the complete collapse of the SEC than a particularly dominating non-conference resume. Utah scored 3 BCS victories, but had its own meltdown, losing to a non-division one team in the season opener. Meanwhile, TCU scored a pair of BCS victories, but also lost at Indiana. UNLV’s wins will probably be the most impressive at the end of the year.

Missouri St. beat Arkansas
Drake beat Iowa St.
Drake beat Iowa
Northern Iowa beat Auburn
Creighton beat DePaul

The MVC once again avoided enough terrible schools to keep the non-conference SOS up, but with few signature wins, this really looks like a one-bid year.

Xavier beat Missouri
Xavier beat Virginia Tech
Xavier beat Virginia
Xavier beat Cincinnati
Xavier beat Auburn
Dayton beat Marquette
Dayton beat Auburn
Temple beat Tennessee
Temple beat Penn St.
UMass beat Kansas
St. Louis beat Boston College
Rhode Island beat Penn St.
Charlotte beat Mississippi St.
St. Bonaventure beat Rutgers
St. Joe's beat Indiana

This is what a good high-major resume looks like. Not only did Xavier dominate the non-conference schedule, several other A10 schools scored signature wins as well. The A10 still has a lot of dead-weight at the bottom but should be able to make a solid case for multiple bids.

Memphis beat Cincinnati
Memphis beat Seton Hall
UAB beat Arizona
UAB beat South Florida
Tulsa beat Texas A&M
UTEP beat Texas Tech
Southern Miss beat Ole Miss
Central Florida beat South Florida
SMU beat Colorado

CUSA may never be the same after losing 5 teams to the Big East, but it is never terrible. There are solid BCS upsets across the board this year.

Ill-Chicago beat Georgia Tech
Ill-Chicago beat Vanderbilt
Cleveland St. beat Syracuse
Butler beat Northwestern
Wright St. beat South Florida
Loyola Chicago beat Georgia

Butler also has a signature win against Xavier, but a lot of people are going to question whether Butler is as good as the RPI indicates.

Gonzaga beat Tennessee
Gonzaga beat Tennessee
Gonzaga beat Maryland
Gonzaga beat Washington St.
Gonzaga beat Oklahoma St.
Gonzaga beat Indiana
St. Mary's beat Oregon
St. Mary's beat Providence
San Diego beat Oregon
San Diego beat Mississippi St.
Portland beat Washington

Once again the WCC scored some wins outside of Gonzaga.

So based on the RPI, Sagarin, Pomeroy Ratings, and 5+ wins against BCS leagues, I’m calling these six leagues the high majors this year until further notice. Or until I change my mind. Final Minor Note: I’m counting Davidson as a high-major this year for obvious reasons. Davidson has wins against West Virginia and NC State.

BCS Leagues

So how have the BCS leagues performed this season?

BCS leagues as a whole have 113 BCS wins, 113 BCS Losses, 56 High Major Losses, and 32 Bad Losses.

ACC: 26 – 18 – 6 – 3
B10: 19 – 17 – 5 – 2
B-E: 21 – 19 – 13 – 9
B12: 19 – 21 – 10 – 7
P10: 13 – 17 – 7 – 5
SEC: 15 – 21 – 15 – 6

This much we know: The ACC is good. The SEC is not so good. As for the teams in the middle, it depends where you look. The margin statistics (Sagarin Predictor, Pomeroy) say the Big Ten is only a middling league this year. But the RPI loves the Big Ten. And the above chart shows why. By avoiding bad losses, the Big Ten has jumped ahead of several other leagues in the RPI calculation. The Big East is high in public perception, in part due to the large number of stars that returned from last year, and in part due to the teams at the top. But there are enough bad teams at the bottom of the Big East, that the league is only in the middle in most rankings measures.

There’s not much time left for these numbers to change. Here are the only remaining BCS non-conference games.

Tonight: Richmond at Virginia Tech
Tonight: Marshall vs West Virginia
Sat, Jan 17: Georgetown at Duke
Sat, Jan 24: Houston at Arizona
Sat, Jan 24: Xavier at LSU
Mon, Jan 26: Cal St Bakersfield at Oregon St.
Tue, Jan 27: Tex Pan American at Auburn
Mon, Feb 2: Robert Morris at Pittsburgh
Tues, Feb 3: NC Central at NC State
Wed, Feb 4: Chicago St. at Northwestern
Sat, Feb 7: Michigan at UConn
Sat, Feb 7: Notre Dame at UCLA
Tues, Feb 10: Cal St Bakersfield at Stanford
Tues, Feb 17: NC Central at Kansas St.
Thur, Feb 19: Duke at St. John's

Saturday, Feb 7th should be fun. It also features a game between Memphis and Gonzaga.

And with basically the entire non-conference slate over, it is time to determine the worst non-conference loss of the year. Here are the worst losses by BCS schools this year:

VMI beat Kentucky
Harvard beat Boston College
Oakland beat Oregon
Liberty beat Virginia
Lamar beat Texas Tech
College of Charleston beat South Carolina
UMBC beat Nebraska
TAMU-CC beat Georgia
Libscomb beat Indiana

Twice is nice:

Mercer beat Alabama
Mercer beat Auburn
Northeastern beat Providence
Northeastern beat Indiana
Montanta St. beat Colorado
Montana St. beat Oregon St.
Western Kentucky beat Louisville
Western Kentucky beat Georgia
Morgan St. beat DePaul
Morgan St. beat Maryland
Kudos to Ken Pomeroy for pointing out the job Todd Bozeman had done at Morgan St. even before these upsets.

And the following BCS teams have been really bad more than once:

Howard beat Oregon St.
Yale beat Oregon St.
Nevada beat Oregon St.
Lehigh beat Rutgers
Binghamton beat Rutgers
IUPUI beat Seton Hall
James Madison beat Seton Hall
Oral Roberts beat South Florida
Niagara beat South Florida
Hawaii beat Iowa St.
South Dakota St. beat Iowa St.
Vermont beat Colorado
Buffalo beat Colorado