Monday, February 23, 2009

Hope for Utah St.

There’s a reason I usually wait until Championship week before I post the Nitty Gritty numbers. And that’s because the Top 100 fluctuates a lot this time of year.

Case in point: Utah St has had a rough couple of weeks. First they lost to Boise St. to end their 19 game winning streak. Then they lost this weekend’s game at St. Mary’s. Worse yet, St. Mary’s was playing without their best player, Patrick Mills. And I was piling on, writing how Utah St. lost its credibility.

But there is a silver lining. On Friday, Nevada was able to beat VCU and move back into the top 100. Plus earlier in the week, Wyoming moved back into the Top 100. Just prior to that, Big Sky leading Weber St. moved back into the Top 100. And Utah St. has beaten all those teams. So the overall numbers end up looking a little better.

Utah St.
Monday, Feb 9th
1-1 vs RPI 1-50
1-0 vs RPI 51-100

Monday, Feb 23rd
1-1 vs RPI 1-50
4-2 vs RPI 51-100

Utah St. hasn’t earned any new quality wins over the last 2 weeks, but they’ve still added 3 quality wins to their resume. And that’s the difference between being a “bubble in” team and a “bubble out” team right now.

(I want to give Joe Lunardi a ton of credit here. For people like me who use a back-of-the-envelope calculation to determine NCAA bids, changes like this are very irritating. While I want to write how it was a bad weekend for Utah St., when I look at the actual numbers, they look about the same. But Lunardi usually keeps very good tabs on teams on the border for the top 50 or top 100 and he usually allows his bracket to fluctuate with relatively few unnatural bumps.)

Another thing I want to emphasize is that Utah St.’s Non-Conference Strength of Schedule isn’t nearly as terrible as some BCS bubble teams. Utah St. played St. Mary’s, Weber St, Utah, and Wyoming, and Utah St.’s NCSOS is near 200.

Meanwhile, Penn St. and Kansas St. are both staring at NCSOS over 300. Penn St. only played three non-conference teams in the RPI top 150, and games against NJIT just don’t count for anything. Oh, and Kansas St., did you have to add NC Central in the middle of Big 12 play? Were the games against Emporia St., Florida A&M, and Southeast Missouri not hurting your NCSOS enough?

Bottom line: Nothing is definitive until the last few days of the season. But assuming the BCS leagues and MWC are guaranteed multiple bids this year, here are the top candidates from outside the top 7 leagues:

CR   Team          T50 N50 BL L11+      RN RPI
12-0 Memphis       3-3 7-0 0 WWWWWWW   10-2  8
10-3 Xavier        4-3 6-1 1 WWWLLWLW   9-4 14
12-0 Gonzaga       3-4 3-0 1 WWWLWWWW  11-3 40
13-3 Butler        2-1 6-1 2 WWLWWWLLW 11-3 20
9-3  Dayton        2-1 5-0 3 WWWLWWL    7-4 29

12-4 Creighton     1-0 8-4 2 LWWWWWWWW  9-4 48
12-1 Utah St.      1-1 4-2 0 WWWWWLWL  10-3 28
15-1 Siena         0-4 5-0 2 WWWWLWWWW  8-6 26
8-4  St. Mary’s    2-2 1-1 2 WLLWLLWWW 10-4 51
9-3  Temple        1-4 4-3 2 WLWWWWW    9-8 35

15-2 Davidson      1-4 1-0 2 WWWLWWLL  11-3 59
12-4 Northern Iowa 1-3 5-1 6 WWWWLWLLL  8-6 81
11-5 Illinois St   1-0 3-3 3 WLWWLWWWL  9-5 58
9-3  UAB           1-4 1-4 0 LWWWWWW    7-8 39
8-4  Tulsa         2-6 2-0 3 WWWWLLW    6-6 69
9-4  Rhode Island  1-5 3-2 1 WWWLWWWW   9-7 68
12-4 Green Bay     1-3 1-1 3 WWWWWLLWW  8-6 67
13-3 W. Kentucky   1-1 2-3 4 WLWWWWLWW  7-8 60
12-4 VCU           0-1 4-4 4 WLWLWWLWL  7-8 71
8-4  Houston       1-2 2-2 4 LWWWWLW    6-6 88
11-5 Northeastern  0-1 4-4 5 WWWLWLLLW 10-6 84
12-4 Niagara       0-2 2-0 5 WWWWWWWLW 13-5 63

Teams in the middle group better keep on winning. I just don’t see how teams in the bottom group can overcome their overall resumes.

Siena has been the inverse of Utah St. While they added a credibility building win this weekend, their past opponents are falling out of the Top 100.

Temple has a huge game at Dayton on Saturday and that’s a needed opportunity to boost their resume.

Can you believe Northern Iowa has 6 losses outside the RPI top 100?

UAB has avoided bad losses, but not done much else.

CR is conference Record.
T50 is record vs the RPI 1-50.
N50 is record vs the RPI 51-100.
BL is bad losses.
L11+ is the team’s record starting with the 11th to last regular season game. I do this because each team will play in at least one conference tournament game.
RN is road/neutral record.
RPI is the team’s RPI rank.
All RPI and vs RPI numbers come from Warren Nolan’s site.