Texas got people talking last night after their win over West Virginia:

The presumption is that Texas hasn’t had a very good season. That seems odd to me. More on this in a bit.

Matt Norlander suggested a win on Saturday at Texas Tech would give Texas an intriguing résumé:

I must confess some astonishment at those proclamations, but the truth is Bracket Matrix backs them up. Texas is currently listed on zero brackets.

That seems unfortunate given they have a solid résumé:

Date Team Opponent-Location for Opp Bubble EW% Result WAB
11/05/19 Texas Northern Colorado-Away 0.8134 1 0.1866
11/09/19 Texas Purdue-Home 0.2695 1 0.7305
11/12/19 Texas Cal Baptist-Away 0.9101 1 0.0899
11/15/19 Texas Prairie View A&M-Away 0.93 1 0.07
11/21/19 Texas Georgetown-Neutral 0.5488 0 -0.5488
11/22/19 Texas California-Neutral 0.8297 1 0.1703
11/30/19 Texas McNeese St.-Away 0.9656 1 0.0344
12/03/19 Texas UAB-Away 0.9158 1 0.0842
12/08/19 Texas Texas A&M-Neutral 0.7663 1 0.2337
12/14/19 Texas Central Michigan-Away 0.9182 1 0.0818
12/21/19 Texas Providence-Home 0.3515 0 -0.3515
12/30/19 Texas High Point-Away 0.9855 1 0.0145
01/04/20 Texas Baylor-Home 0.1113 0 -0.1113
01/08/20 Texas Oklahoma-Away 0.6493 0 -0.6493
01/11/20 Texas Kansas St.-Away 0.8027 1 0.1973
01/15/20 Texas Oklahoma St.-Home 0.4108 1 0.5892
01/18/20 Texas Kansas-Away 0.2105 0 -0.2105
01/20/20 Texas West Virginia-Home 0.1876 0 -0.1876
01/25/20 Texas LSU-Away 0.6105 0 -0.6105
01/29/20 Texas TCU-Home 0.4682 1 0.5318
02/01/20 Texas Iowa St.-Away 0.7453 1 0.2547
02/03/20 Texas Kansas-Home 0.0685 0 -0.0685
02/08/20 Texas Texas Tech-Away 0.4767 0 -0.4767
02/10/20 Texas Baylor-Away 0.3122 0 -0.3122
02/15/20 Texas Iowa St.-Home 0.4466 0 -0.4466
02/19/20 Texas TCU-Away 0.7615 1 0.2385
02/22/20 Texas Kansas St.-Home 0.5287 1 0.4713
02/24/20 Texas West Virginia-Away 0.4557 1 0.5443
Net WAB 0.5495

In a fair world 0.55 WAB would put you into the NCAA Tournament. Let’s compare Texas with Florida:

Date Team Opponent-Location for Opp Bubble EW% Result WAB
11/05/19 Florida North Florida-Away 0.8978 1 0.1022
11/10/19 Florida Florida St.-Away 0.4623 0 -0.4623
11/14/19 Florida Towson-Away 0.9036 1 0.0964
11/17/19 Florida Connecticut-Home 0.425 0 -0.425
11/21/19 Florida Saint Joseph’s-Neutral 0.9229 1 0.0771
11/22/19 Florida Miami FL-Neutral 0.6807 1 0.3193
11/24/19 Florida Xavier-Neutral 0.4765 1 0.5235
11/29/19 Florida Marshall-Away 0.8922 1 0.1078
12/07/19 Florida Butler-Home 0.2778 0 -0.2778
12/17/19 Florida Providence-Neutral 0.5079 1 0.4921
12/21/19 Florida Utah St.-Neutral 0.4709 0 -0.4709
12/28/19 Florida Long Beach St.-Away 0.968 1 0.032
01/04/20 Florida Alabama-Away 0.6559 1 0.3441
01/07/20 Florida South Carolina-Home 0.4182 1 0.5818
01/11/20 Florida Missouri-Home 0.5411 0 -0.5411
01/14/20 Florida Mississippi-Away 0.782 1 0.218
01/18/20 Florida Auburn-Away 0.6067 1 0.3933
01/21/20 Florida LSU-Home 0.3018 0 -0.3018
01/25/20 Florida Baylor-Away 0.3122 0 -0.3122
01/28/20 Florida Mississippi St.-Away 0.6889 0 -0.6889
02/01/20 Florida Vanderbilt-Home 0.704 1 0.296
02/05/20 Florida Georgia-Away 0.7988 1 0.2012
02/08/20 Florida Mississippi-Home 0.4973 0 -0.4973
02/12/20 Florida Texas A&M-Home 0.6326 1 0.3674
02/15/20 Florida Vanderbilt-Away 0.8961 1 0.1039
02/18/20 Florida Arkansas-Away 0.6596 1 0.3404
02/22/20 Florida Kentucky-Home 0.2295 0 -0.2295
Net WAB 0.3897

Frankly, there isn’t that much separating the two bodies of work. Mind you, Florida is on all 103 brackets over at Bracket Matrix. I can’t say I have any objection to that given I too would put them in the field. The awkward part is that Florida is currently safely in and Texas is on the outside despite Texas having the slightly stronger résumé. And then there’s Stanford:

Date Team Opponent-Location for Opp Bubble EW% Result WAB
11/06/19 Stanford Montana-Away 0.8772 1 0.1228
11/09/19 Stanford Cal St. Fullerton-Away 0.9608 1 0.0392
11/12/19 Stanford Long Beach St.-Away 0.968 1 0.032
11/16/19 Stanford Santa Clara-Away 0.8869 1 0.1131
11/19/19 Stanford Maryland Eastern Shore-Away 0.9938 1 0.0062
11/21/19 Stanford William & Mary-Away 0.9139 1 0.0861
11/25/19 Stanford Oklahoma-Neutral 0.493 1 0.507
11/26/19 Stanford Butler-Neutral 0.4227 0 -0.4227
12/01/19 Stanford UNC Wilmington-Away 0.9724 1 0.0276
12/14/19 Stanford San Jose St.-Home 0.8903 1 0.1097
12/17/19 Stanford San Francisco-Away 0.7964 1 0.2036
12/21/19 Stanford San Diego-Semi-Away 0.9138 1 0.0862
12/29/19 Stanford Kansas-Away 0.2105 0 -0.2105
01/02/20 Stanford California-Away 0.9027 1 0.0973
01/09/20 Stanford Washington-Away 0.7145 1 0.2855
01/11/20 Stanford Washington St.-Away 0.8795 1 0.1205
01/15/20 Stanford UCLA-Home 0.4708 1 0.5292
01/18/20 Stanford USC-Home 0.3917 0 -0.3917
01/26/20 Stanford California-Home 0.719 0 -0.719
01/30/20 Stanford Oregon St.-Away 0.7679 0 -0.7679
02/01/20 Stanford Oregon-Away 0.5287 1 0.4713
02/06/20 Stanford Utah-Home 0.5388 0 -0.5388
02/08/20 Stanford Colorado-Home 0.2441 0 -0.2441
02/13/20 Stanford Arizona St.-Away 0.6784 0 -0.6784
02/15/20 Stanford Arizona-Away 0.4613 0 -0.4613
02/20/20 Stanford Washington-Home 0.4084 1 0.5916
02/23/20 Stanford Washington St.-Home 0.6681 1 0.3319
Net WAB -0.6736

Stanford has rallied a bit lately, but their résumé is still well below the Mendoza line. They are currently in on 42 brackets, which puts them squarely on the bubble.

So, what exactly is going on here? My guess is that it’s an issue of power ratings. Both Florida and Stanford are among top 40 teams in the country. Texas is outside of the top 60. The thing is, both Matt and Brad were focusing specifically on Texas’s résumé. That’s as it should be. Résumé (your body of work) should be what gets you into the dance. To use the golf analogy of par:

Texas’s schedule is a par 11.55. They’ve shot an 11 on it.

Florida’s schedule is a par 10.39. They’ve shot a 10 on it.

Stanford’s schedule is a par 8.33. They’ve shot a 9 on it.

Texas and Florida should currently be in (albeit, via Dayton). Stanford should be out.

 

 

 

Today Ken Pomeroy had an article in The Athletic about Stephen F. Austin and their bubble case. In it, he referenced my work on WAB. For those unfamiliar with the process, WAB stands for Wins-Above-Bubble. From the article:

“It’s fairly easy to understand as it attempts to answer this question: How well did a team do against its schedule relative to what would be expected from an average bubble team? WAB is a great concept and puts us close to a completely objective system for making tournament selections.”

Ken goes on to review Stephen F. Austin’s schedule and their results. I felt it would be good to supplement that with a visual breakdown of the math here. I’ll break there schedule down into two parts here:

Opponent-Location for Opponent Bubble EW% Result WAB Result
Duke-Home 0.1125 1 0.8875
Rutgers-Home 0.2686 0 -0.2686
Alabama-Home 0.3801 0 -0.3801
Net Result 0.2388

Those are they tough road games for any bubble team to face. 1-2 is a good result for an average bubble team. That’s something bracketologists seem to be reasonably willing to concede. What they have a problem with is SFA’s loss at home to Texas A&M Corpus Christi. They argue that the loss cancels out the win over Duke, leaving their resume unworthy of inclusion. Let’s look at the “other” 22 games SFA has played so far this season:

Opponent-Location for Opponent Bubble EW% Result WAB Result
Sam Houston St.-Home 0.7544 1 0.2456
Arkansas St.-Home 0.7811 1 0.2189
McNeese St.-Home 0.8668 1 0.1332
Lamar-Home 0.8866 1 0.1134
Central Arkansas-Home 0.8894 1 0.1106
Northwestern St.-Home 0.9111 1 0.0889
Texas A&M Corpus Chris-Home 0.9136 1 0.0864
Abilene Christian-Away 0.9213 1 0.0787
Nicholls St.-Away 0.9276 1 0.0724
New Orleans-Home 0.9355 1 0.0645
Drexel-Away 0.9513 1 0.0487
Southeastern Louisiana-Home 0.9565 1 0.0435
Louisiana Monroe-Away 0.9689 1 0.0311
North Carolina Central-Away 0.9699 1 0.0301
Niagara-Away 0.9729 1 0.0271
Texas A&M Corpus Chris-Away 0.9746 0 -0.9746
New Orleans-Away 0.9813 1 0.0187
Houston Baptist-Away 0.988 1 0.012
Incarnate Word-Away 0.993 1 0.007
LeTourneau-Away 1 1 0
Arlington Baptist-Away 1 1 0
Paul Quinn-Away 1 1 0
    Net Result 0.4562

Yes, the loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi really was that bad. It more than cancels out the Duke win. But… Stephen F. Austin went 21-0 in the rest of their schedule, and that counts too. In fact, altogether, even with the loss to TAM-CC, they have done well outside of their three major road games. Wins at Sam Houston State and Arkansas State aren’t a given for a bubble team.

The fact is, it’s hard to go 22-3 vs. SFA’s schedule. Bart Torvik agrees. ESPN agrees. Both have SFA in the top 50 in their resume metrics, at 44th, and 46th respective. That has nothing to do with how good they are. Bart has them 123rd, while ESPN has them 126th. Their resume is solid even if they’d be a clear underdog on a neutral court to the next team we’ll be looking at, Purdue.

First off, you can find a full review of Purdue’s schedule here. Before I break their schedule down, let me note that SFA got a net total of 2.32 WAB in their 22 wins and -1.62 WAB in their three losses. Purdue has faced a much tougher schedule. Let’s start by looking at their wins:

Date Team Opponent-Location for Opponent Bubble EW% Result WAB Result
02/08/20 Purdue Indiana-Home 0.3776 1 0.6224
01/12/20 Purdue Michigan St.-Away 0.4676 1 0.5324
11/29/19 Purdue VCU-Neutral 0.5528 1 0.4472
02/05/20 Purdue Iowa-Away 0.5664 1 0.4336
01/24/20 Purdue Wisconsin-Away 0.5728 1 0.4272
01/02/20 Purdue Minnesota-Away 0.6049 1 0.3951
02/01/20 Purdue Northwestern-Home 0.6512 1 0.3488
12/04/19 Purdue Virginia-Away 0.6738 1 0.3262
12/17/19 Purdue Ohio-Home 0.7896 1 0.2104
12/08/19 Purdue Northwestern-Away 0.8713 1 0.1287
12/28/19 Purdue Central Michigan-Away 0.9298 1 0.0702
11/06/19 Purdue Green Bay-Away 0.9523 1 0.0477
11/23/19 Purdue Jacksonville St.-Away 0.9659 1 0.0341
11/16/19 Purdue Chicago St.-Away 0.9976 1 0.0024
Net WAB: 4.0264

Purdue has generated 4.03 WAB in their 14 wins. That’s better than what SFA has generated in their 22 wins. Alas, the problem is we live in a world with credits and debits. Purdue’s 12 losses:

01/18/20 Purdue Maryland-Home 0.1682 0 -0.1682
02/15/20 Purdue Ohio St.-Home 0.1895 0 -0.1895
01/09/20 Purdue Michigan-Home 0.2212 0 -0.2212
11/13/19 Purdue Marquette-Home 0.2593 0 -0.2593
01/28/20 Purdue Rutgers-Home 0.2686 0 -0.2686
01/05/20 Purdue Illinois-Home 0.2988 0 -0.2988
11/30/19 Purdue Florida St.-Neutral 0.3778 0 -0.3778
12/21/19 Purdue Butler-Neutral 0.4289 0 -0.4289
02/11/20 Purdue Penn St.-Away 0.4715 0 -0.4715
01/21/20 Purdue Illinois-Away 0.6071 0 -0.6071
12/15/19 Purdue Nebraska-Home 0.6736 0 -0.6736
11/09/19 Purdue Texas-Away 0.777 0 -0.777
Net WAB: -4.7415

Losing at Maryland and Ohio State is understandable. The WAB penalty there isn’t too brutal. Alas, Purdue has also lost at home to Texas, Illinois, and Penn State. They also lost at Nebraska, which isn’t something a bubble team would do more than one-time-in-three. Purdue has some nice accomplishments, but on balance a bubble team would expect 14.72 wins against their schedule. Winning 14 isn’t great in that context.

Mind you, Purdue is a much better team than SFA. It’s not remotely close. But their resume is more than a full win worse.

In closing, what SFA has accomplished might not look impressive, but when you dig into the details, it’s a solid resume. Purdue might pass the eye-test with flying colors, but if you care about wins and losses, they don’t currently belong in the NCAA field. To use a golf analogy:

SFA’s schedule is a par 3.72. They’ve shot a 3 on it.

Purdue’s schedule is a par 11.28. They’ve shot a 12 on it.

That’s why SFA currently belongs and Purdue does not.

 

I never expected that one day I’d have North Carolina State’s back in a discussion out teams getting hosed on NCAA Tournament selection, but when you choose a life of data analysis, anything is possible.

It was suggested that the reason North Carolina State missed the 2019 NCAA Tournament was due to their non-conference slate. I decided to look at the eight teams that either missed the tournament with a positive WAB (per the KenPoms) or made the tournament as an at-large selection with a negative WAB.

School Seed EW% Win % Result WAB Pythag
UNC Greensboro 0 76.34% 82.35% 6.01% 2.04 0.7245
North Carolina St. 0 61.13% 66.67% 5.54% 1.83 0.8626
TCU 0 59.46% 60.61% 1.15% 0.38 0.8293
Clemson 0 58.94% 59.38% 0.44% 0.14 0.8881
Florida 10 56.06% 55.88% -0.18% -0.06 0.8898
Seton Hall 10 61.12% 60.61% -0.51% -0.17 0.8088
Arizona St. 11.1 69.80% 68.75% -1.05% -0.34 0.7749
St. John’s 11.1 66.73% 63.64% -3.09% -1.02 0.7219

UNC Greensboro got royally hosed, but it’s worth noting that North Carolina State had an almost equally good claim to selection. It’s certainly the case that North Carolina State had a stronger argument than either St. John’s or Arizona State in terms of resume, and in terms of team quality. North Carolina State would have been the clear favorite over either on a neutral court, strongly so in the case of a matchup against St. John’s. Let’s focus specifically on the non-conference slate.

School Seed NC EW% NC W% Result NC WAB Pythag
UNC Greensboro 0 76.97% 81.82% 4.85% 0.53 0.7245
North Carolina St. 0 82.53% 92.31% 9.78% 1.27 0.8626
TCU 0 81.04% 92.31% 11.27% 1.47 0.8293
Clemson 0 75.61% 76.92% 1.31% 0.17 0.8881
Florida 10 67.20% 61.54% -5.66% -0.74 0.8898
Seton Hall 10 67.03% 75.00% 7.97% 0.96 0.8088
Arizona St. 11.1 72.51% 75.00% 2.49% 0.3 0.7749
St. John’s 11.1 79.65% 92.31% 12.66% 1.65 0.7219

An average bubble team would expect to win 82.53% of their games against North Carolina State’s non-conference schedule. That’s the softest slate of the eight teams listed here (and 299th overall if you’re curious). TCU and St. John’s also had fairly easy non-conference schedules, followed by UNC Greensoro and Clemson. Seton Hall and Florida had very tough non-conference schedules. In Florida’s case, the result was poor as they went 8-5 while a bubble team would expect to go around 8.74-4.26. Not a great result. As for North Carolina State, they went 12-1 while a bubble team would have expected to go 10.73-2.27. Considering the difference in opposition, North Carolina State should have entered conference play roughly two wins ahead of Florida. A much easier schedule, yes, but not four wins easier. Also, please note that St. John’s crushed a soft schedule. It was their much tougher league schedule that tanked their WAB.

Let’s look back at the full season results:

School Seed EW% Win % Result WAB Pythag
UNC Greensboro 0 76.34% 82.35% 6.01% 2.04 0.7245
North Carolina St. 0 61.13% 66.67% 5.54% 1.83 0.8626
TCU 0 59.46% 60.61% 1.15% 0.38 0.8293
Clemson 0 58.94% 59.38% 0.44% 0.14 0.8881
Florida 10 56.06% 55.88% -0.18% -0.06 0.8898
Seton Hall 10 61.12% 60.61% -0.51% -0.17 0.8088
Arizona St. 11.1 69.80% 68.75% -1.05% -0.34 0.7749
St. John’s 11.1 66.73% 63.64% -3.09% -1.02 0.7219

UNC Greensboro had by far the easiest schedule overall. A bubble team would expect to win more than three-fourth’s of their games against it. UNC Greensboro bettered than, winning 82.35%. Did that matter to the committee? Not enough.

North Carolina State ended up facing a much tougher schedule than Arizona State or St. John’s. The ACC was brutal last season. They ended up winning two-thirds of their games when par for a bubble team would have been 61.13%. In short, their record was superb given who they faced and where they faced them.

Florida’s schedule was even harder, but they performed basically at a normal expectation for a bubble team. The same can be said for Clemson and TCU, although I’ll note that overall TCU’s results should be considered materally better than Florida’s last season.

Arizona State’s schedule was significantly weaker North Carolina State’s. More importantly, they perform particularly well against it.

St. John’s prayers were answered on selection Sunday, but they shouldn’t have been. They had middling results given the competition they faced. They were one full win below the Mendoza line.

I would not recommend selecting teams to the NCAA Tournament based on their power rankings, be they KenPom or otherwise, but if that was a consideration it’s not one that was favorable to St. John’s. (I should note that seeding is a different matter. Taking power rankings into account is helpful for balancing the bracket.)

I am left to conclude that the Wolfpack was left out of the dance due to who they faced in their non-conference games. That’s absurd. As Bart Torvik noted:

The problem for rewarding or punishing a team purely for SOS is that you are now rewarding losses to good teams and punishing wins against weak teams. That was also the cardinal sin of the RPI. Defeating a team should never be considered a negative. Losing to one should never be considered a positive. Considering SOS as a metric unto itself breaks that. That’s unconscionable, and as Bart noted, braindead.

SOS matters. WAB (and Parcells) takes that fully into account. Your strength of record, AKA, body of work should determine selection to the field. SOS should never be considered in and of itself to reward or punish teams.

Two notes:

  1. In terms of resume a loss is never good and a win is never bad. That doesn’t apply to power ratings, where playing almost even with Kansas will generally boost your rating. Power ratings and resume ratings are completely separate things.
  2. Treating SOS as a metric unto itself isn’t just awful, it’s biased. If it were to be codified as part of the selection process, power conference teams would have the power to dominate it and exclude mid-majors with less scheduling power from the process.

For more details:

https://www.heraldonline.com/sports/college/big-south/winthrop-university/article222906070.html

Key quotes:

(ETSU Head Coach Steve) Forbes said that almost no team from those seven leagues (P5 + Big East & AAC) will play non-conference road games against low/mid-majors. That’s hampering the other 25 leagues’ already slim chances of getting multiple teams into the NCAA Tournament, because their chances at quality wins is lowered.

And the NCAA’s new metric, called NET and developed to replace the RPI, isn’t helping low/mid-majors’ cause much either. It gives more weight to neutral court wins than road wins. There is almost no incentive for bigger schools to travel to smaller ones.

“We’re getting scheduled out of the tournament, because we’re not gonna have enough Quadrant 1 wins to even have a chance,” said Forbes.

The data bears this out:

Power 5 teams played 88 percent of their non-conference games in 2017-18 at home or on a neutral court.

So in short, using SOS is effectively a cudgel against schools like UNC Greensboro, East Tennessee State, Northern Iowa, and their ilk. It’s unfair and should be repudiated by the committee.

Remember, SOS matters. Stength of record takes it fully into account.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both touts lost money this season. PFF lost more money, but they also wagered on far more games as they also made college football predictions. Football Outsiders has a worse ROI. Let’s turn to Z-score to see who really had the worst season. First, PFF:

Final Tab -446367
Z-Score -0.77
ROI -2.20%

Not great Bob. After 500 NFL wagers and 1519 NCAAF wagers, they ended up solidly down. Taking the variance into account, the finished with a Z-Score of -0.77, which is to say they were a hair more than three-fourth’s of a standard deviation down.

As for Football Outsiders:

Final Tab -172518
Z-Score -0.50
ROI -4.16%

The ROI was unfortunate, as was the final tab, but given their variance, they only ended up one half standard deviation down. Does that make them the winner of this “competition”?

No. There are no winners here. Don’t buy picks from touts.

 

Let’s start with PFF. Remember this tweet from before the championship games?

If they really believed those numbers, they’d be heavily on the Chiefs today. Instead:

49ers 0 238 262 0
SF-KC U53.5 1466 1423 0

Oof. I’ll ignore the fact they are projecting a 0.8% chance of a tie. My major issue is that they believe they can use market data to beat the market via project Greenline. Last year they got destroyed. They changed their methodology, added NCAAF, and are down a net of $447,552. I’ll do a full review after the Super Bowl.

As for FO, they are merely down $177,114. They’ll be on the Chiefs, but again, not as strongly as their internals would suggest:

Team Conf App Conf Win SB Win
KC 100.0% 100.0% 57.4%
SF 100.0% 100.0% 42.6%

Alas, they are playing smallball:

Chiefs -1 5147 4596 0

Enjoy the game y’all!

First off, let me get the plays out of the way:

PFF:

Packers 7.5 14600 13774 0
Packers 0 4067 11754 0
GB-SF O46.5 1010 1000 0

FO:

49ers -7 29167 27778 0

PFF is now down $429,885 on the season (NCAAF + NFL). FO is down $204,892.

Football Outsiders likes the 49ers. PFF likes the Packers. What I’m wondering is how much they like the Packers:

If the Packers win the SB 20% of the time and the 49ers win it 27% of the time, then one would expect the two teams to be roughly equal with the 49ers home field advantage providing the only major difference. That’s what I found when I solved for those win %’s:

Team Pythag Conference SB
San Francisco 49ers 64.37% 56.98% 27.00%
Green Bay Packers 64.60% 43.02% 20.00%
Kansas City Chiefs 70.07% 67.45% 38.00%
Tennessee Titans 60.80% 32.55% 15.00%

If PFF had the Packers winning this game 43% of the time, they would have bet:

Packers 0 46554 134540 0

They bet less than a tenth of that, which suggests they don’t particularly respect their internal projections relative to those of the market.

There’s also the issue that their win %’s add up to 99.2%. That’s a problem given that playoff games can’t tie. Seems a bit lazy not to update the rules from the regular season, but what do I know.

Enjoy the game. Let’s see who gets to face the Chiefs in Miami.