Earlier today, the NCAA Selection Committee did their little mini-reveal, showcasing the top four seeds in each bracket if the season ended today. Here is what we have to work with:
Now, of course, the first thing you will notice is that the Selection Committee forgot to list the Gonzaga Bulldogs as a top four seed. It is no secret in these parts that the Gonzaga Bulldogs, despite being continually good, are constantly punished for their association in the West Coast Conference. Last year, despite the fact that the Zags were the KenPom #1 team for a good portion of the season, there was still a question mark if they would be a No. 1 seed—a thought based in sheer lunacy and RPI drivel.
Part of what we need to catch up with are the quadrant wins. Previously, the committee used to rely on RPI data in choosing the seedings. The RPI, although a number, is a number that is completely devoid of any meaning. The rumor on the street was the committee was starting to use more advanced analytics in recently, a trend that benefits a Gonzaga team constantly hampered down by the RPI.
This year, the committee introduced a new metric: quadrant wins. Which is basically taking a trash RPI number and reformatting into another trash number. Here is how they break down:
- Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
- Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
- Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus
“The committee’s decision to focus on, for example, Q1 or Q2 wins, or Quadrant 4 losses, is a direct result of its desire to place greater emphasis on winning away from home, and to demonstrate how difficult it is to earn those wins,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball.“
Is it worth anything? I’d tend to agree with the Bilastrator here.
The Committee’s quadrant system is just more shaky data to organize information for less discerning minds. All of the quad data is based upon RPI. Garbage in, garbage out.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) February 11, 2018
If the data you are now emphasizing relies on the old “out of date” metric you want to be phasing out, it doesn’t make it right. This is like instead of putting all your recycling in the trash, you put all your recycling in the trash except for glass bottles, and counting it as progress.
Teams like Ohio State and Oklahoma, that play in major conferences, are by default going to have more Quadrant 1 wins than a team like Gonzaga will. That is why you see Ohio State, a team that Gonzaga mashed by 27 points this year, ahead of the Zags.
If the committee is going to rely on an RPI-based metric, than the years that the WCC RPI is really bad, like this year with four sub-250 RPI teams, Gonzaga is going to struggle to earn a high seed. The Zags own five Quadrant 1 wins on the season, but that could possibly be all they achieve. BYU, currently sitting at No. 74 in the RPI, might fall out of quadrant one territory.
If the Zags win out, they can force the conversation on that Selection Sunday for a top-four seed. The advanced analytics currently favor the Zags (No. 7 in KenPom this morning), but it will have to be a smarter minds prevail conversation. Until then, life in the WCC is back to how we remember it, detrimental to overall health.