WAB 2/18: Of USC and Houston

Reminder: WAB stands for Wins-Above-Bubble. It is the amount of wins you have minus the amount of wins an average bubble team would have against your schedule.

The NCAA got a lot of press out of their stats retreat:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-ncaa-is-modernizing-the-way-it-picks-march-madness-teams/?ex_cid=story-twitter

From the piece:

“But beyond the practical concerns of sportsmanship, the scoring-margin debate also speaks to a deeper philosophical question at the core of any ranking system: Should the NCAA’s new metric reward the best teams or the most accomplished ones?

The selection committee is only starting to wrap its head around the subtle distinction between the two categories. Due to luck, underperformance and other circumstantial factors, it’s very possible for the most talented team in the country to not have the most impressive record in the country. Since things like point differential are more predictive measures, they give us a better read on a team’s underlying talent (the “best” team), while a metric like strength of record is more retrospective (the “most deserving” team). Because there will always be incongruities between the two types of rankings, a good ranking system will explicitly decide beforehand whether it’s measuring talent for the future or rewarding accomplishment in the past — or, if it’s somewhere in between, what the intended mix is.

In the past, the NCAA has sent conflicting messages about whether its selection and seeding process is fundamentally a forward-looking endeavor or a backward-looking one. “In terms of the how the committee should select teams, it actually says in [the NCAA guidelines] that they need to select the best 36 at-large teams — based on results,” Pomeroy said. “Best” and “based on results” don’t always line up,, though. “It’s like a contradiction right in that sentence.””

I’m not sure the distinction between best and most accomplished is all that subtle. Maryland has a better resume than West Virginia. West Virginia would be favored over Maryland on a neutral court. Of course, both are going to be invited to the dance. It’s a more important distinction when talking about bubble teams, so let’s look at USC and Houston.

USC is 21-5. If you put an average bubble team against their schedule it would average 18.87 wins. That’s some solid work by USC. However, across the six ratings systems I’ve averaged, they are only the 58th best team in the country. If you were inviting based off the KenPom ratings, they’d probably not receive an invite, despite their W/L record suggesting they deserved one. Please note, Ken Pomeroy himself is on record as saying the W/L record should be what determines selection. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone actually thinks selection should be based off of power ratings. It might just be a talking point.

Houston is 18-7. Our bubble squad would expect to average 19.09 wins against their schedule. However, they have the 39th best Pythag when the six ratings were averaged together. If we were selecting the 36 best teams after the auto-bids were decided, they’d almost certainly make the cut. Perhaps they’d pass “The eye-test”. Would that make them worthy of inclusion in the dance? Personally, I don’t think so. As far as I can tell, everyone agrees the W/L record should be definitive in terms of selection (if not seeding). The trick is balancing W/L records for wildly disparate schedules.

One way of doing that is solving for the amount of wins some baseline team would have against their schedule. That’s what I do with WAB. Another way would be to solve for what type of power level would be required to earn said record. That’s implied Pythag. Implied Pythag has the issue of undefeated teams, but there are ways around that. However, the first step is being explicit in determining that how good you are has nothing to do with selection. The NCAA Selection Committee has so far refused to be explicit in stating that your resume (body of work) is entirely what matters for selection. Mind you, I don’t expect that to be any comfort to Houston, as right now selection appears to be based off good wins (as far as the RPI is concerned) and bad losses (ditto).

Full WAB’s Here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hof8DT8OCt_9A-f93NnXnSfMdp97B1qvmQ8Hw_X3X8Y/edit#gid=0

WAB Rank School WAB-AVG Pythag Pythag Rank
1 Kansas 8.43 0.9486 9
2 Villanova 8.14 0.9612 3
3 Baylor 7.11 0.9426 12
4 Gonzaga 6.96 0.9738 1
5 Louisville 6.09 0.9605 4
6 North Carolina 5.86 0.9517 8
7 Arizona 5.37 0.9193 19
8 Florida 5.35 0.9600 5
9 Duke 5.14 0.9467 10
10 Florida St. 4.85 0.9314 15
11 Cincinnati 4.73 0.9185 20
12 Kentucky 4.71 0.9529 7
13 Wisconsin 4.67 0.9297 16
14 UCLA 4.65 0.9270 17
15 Maryland 4.55 0.8700 31
16 Oregon 4.41 0.9390 13
17 Butler 4.40 0.9076 25
18 Notre Dame 4.07 0.9114 24
19 Creighton 3.99 0.9068 26
20 Virginia 3.93 0.9590 6
21 Purdue 3.87 0.9449 11
22 West Virginia 3.69 0.9621 2
23 SMU 3.08 0.9235 18
24 Xavier 2.85 0.8751 30
25 Wichita St. 2.78 0.9338 14
26 Oklahoma St. 2.73 0.9115 23
27 Saint Mary’s 2.63 0.9179 21
28 Virginia Tech 2.49 0.8218 50
29 South Carolina 2.42 0.8809 28
30 USC 2.13 0.8004 58
31 Northwestern 1.88 0.8658 34
32 Iowa St. 1.86 0.9116 22
33 Minnesota 1.69 0.8560 38
34 VCU 1.64 0.8443 41
35 Arkansas 1.33 0.8156 54
36 Dayton 1.24 0.8683 33
37 Illinois St. 1.14 0.8240 49
38 Miami FL 0.98 0.8687 32
39 Middle Tennessee 0.78 0.8205 51
40 TCU 0.74 0.8436 42
41 Michigan St. 0.49 0.8279 48
42 Vermont 0.48 0.7464 70
43 Seton Hall 0.44 0.8154 55
44 Kansas St. 0.32 0.8787 29
45 Michigan 0.28 0.8895 27
46 Monmouth 0.21 0.7034 89
47 UNC Wilmington 0.14 0.7771 62
48 Clemson -0.05 0.8616 35
49 Texas Tech -0.08 0.8614 36
50 California -0.12 0.8310 45
51 Wake Forest -0.23 0.8606 37
52 Nevada -0.24 0.7666 65
53 Akron -0.28 0.6649 101
54 Belmont -0.46 0.7069 87
55 Marquette -0.65 0.8405 44
56 New Mexico St. -0.82 0.6628 103
57 Auburn -0.84 0.7325 79
58 Providence -0.85 0.8028 57
59 Georgia -0.91 0.8174 53
60 Syracuse -0.94 0.8428 43
61 UT Arlington -0.98 0.7420 73
62 Tennessee -0.99 0.8294 47
63 Valparaiso -1.01 0.6674 100
64 Georgia Tech -1.05 0.7243 82
65 Houston -1.09 0.8523 39
66 Alabama -1.29 0.7931 60
67 Mississippi -1.33 0.7641 66
68 East Tennessee St. -1.45 0.7336 77
69 Princeton -1.48 0.7456 71
70 Pittsburgh -1.55 0.7688 63
71 Chattanooga -1.61 0.6757 96
72 Winthrop -1.63 0.5941 124
73 Georgetown -1.71 0.8309 46
74 Indiana -1.75 0.8510 40
75 Utah -1.87 0.8205 52
76 UNC Asheville -2.00 0.6500 107
77 Florida Gulf Coast -2.03 0.6228 113
78 Ohio St. -2.05 0.7838 61
79 Rhode Island -2.15 0.8065 56
80 Boise St. -2.35 0.6912 91
81 Illinois -2.36 0.7453 72
82 College of Charleston -2.44 0.6635 102
83 Arkansas St. -2.53 0.6256 112
84 Memphis -2.58 0.7060 88
85 Iowa -2.71 0.7404 74
86 Furman -2.80 0.6821 93
87 Cal St. Bakersfield -2.83 0.6447 109
88 Bucknell -2.91 0.6707 99
89 Vanderbilt -2.96 0.7936 59
90 George Mason -2.97 0.6483 108
91 Texas A&M -3.10 0.7671 64
92 Penn St. -3.14 0.7316 80
93 UNC Greensboro -3.21 0.5188 157
94 UCF -3.24 0.7378 75
95 North Carolina St. -3.28 0.6767 94
96 Stanford -3.30 0.6738 97
97 Oakland -3.31 0.6040 118
98 BYU -3.36 0.7334 78
99 Harvard -3.36 0.6163 115
100 Colorado -3.42 0.7485 68
101 San Francisco -3.43 0.6347 110
102 Yale -3.45 0.5650 135
103 New Mexico -3.54 0.6328 111
104 North Carolina Central -3.62 0.5029 165
105 Louisiana Tech -3.66 0.6860 92
106 Colorado St. -3.66 0.6728 98
107 Temple -3.69 0.6548 105
108 Nebraska -3.72 0.7286 81
109 St. Bonaventure -3.81 0.7072 85
110 Mississippi St. -3.95 0.7011 90
111 Ohio -4.17 0.6548 106
112 San Diego St. -4.24 0.7361 76
113 Richmond -4.24 0.6583 104
114 Georgia St. -4.28 0.5619 137
115 Connecticut -4.30 0.7217 83
116 Grand Canyon -4.32 0.4475 188
117 Rice -4.34 0.5824 128
118 Eastern Washington -4.46 0.4819 178
119 Fort Wayne -4.50 0.6039 119
120 La Salle -4.54 0.6015 120
121 Oklahoma -4.56 0.7480 69
122 Davidson -4.56 0.7131 84
123 Old Dominion -4.59 0.5845 127
124 North Dakota St. -4.61 0.5516 140
125 Texas Southern -4.64 0.3808 215
126 Texas -4.77 0.7618 67
127 Northern Kentucky -4.78 0.5123 159
128 Rutgers -4.85 0.5792 129
129 Wright St. -4.89 0.4840 177
130 Weber St. -4.93 0.5360 149
131 Arizona St. -4.96 0.6013 121
132 Iona -5.01 0.5931 125
133 Towson -5.06 0.5765 130
134 Northern Iowa -5.08 0.5603 138
135 St. John’s -5.13 0.7069 86
136 South Dakota -5.17 0.5237 152
137 North Dakota -5.25 0.4851 174
138 New Orleans -5.25 0.3963 210
139 Tennessee Martin -5.33 0.4394 193
140 Sam Houston St. -5.38 0.3831 214
141 Fresno St. -5.48 0.6041 117
142 Texas A&M Corpus Chris -5.49 0.3581 220
143 Tulsa -5.59 0.5720 131
144 Georgia Southern -5.65 0.5052 163
145 Marshall -5.73 0.5381 148
146 Loyola Chicago -5.75 0.6761 95
147 George Washington -5.89 0.5558 139
148 William & Mary -5.95 0.5684 133
149 Canisius -6.02 0.5069 162
150 Central Michigan -6.04 0.4727 180
151 Tennessee St. -6.06 0.5027 166
152 Denver -6.06 0.5306 151
153 Wyoming -6.10 0.5194 155
154 Liberty -6.11 0.4376 194
155 San Jose St. -6.21 0.4272 198
156 Texas St. -6.21 0.4124 204
157 Stony Brook -6.29 0.4205 201
158 Buffalo -6.31 0.6166 114
159 Ball St. -6.35 0.4915 170
160 Green Bay -6.36 0.4754 179
161 Albany -6.40 0.5512 141
162 Lehigh -6.40 0.5911 126
163 UMBC -6.48 0.4332 195
164 New Hampshire -6.48 0.4685 182
165 Elon -6.48 0.5397 145
166 Santa Clara -6.50 0.6049 116
167 UAB -6.52 0.4999 168
168 UC Irvine -6.58 0.5397 144
169 Louisiana Lafayette -6.66 0.5389 146
170 Boston University -6.68 0.4849 175
171 LSU -6.75 0.5049 164
172 Washington St. -6.76 0.4075 206
173 UC Davis -6.79 0.3880 212
174 Massachusetts -6.95 0.5623 136
175 Samford -7.06 0.4842 176
176 Penn -7.11 0.5087 160
177 Jacksonville St. -7.15 0.4278 197
178 Nebraska Omaha -7.25 0.4332 196
179 Loyola Marymount -7.25 0.4671 183
180 Lipscomb -7.37 0.5074 161
181 East Carolina -7.40 0.4188 202
182 Loyola MD -7.42 0.3353 239
183 Southern Illinois -7.43 0.4857 173
184 Houston Baptist -7.48 0.3390 237
185 Saint Peter’s -7.49 0.6007 122
186 Stephen F. Austin -7.51 0.3098 249
187 Fairfield -7.56 0.4247 200
188 Alcorn St. -7.60 0.2120 298
189 Northeastern -7.63 0.5492 142
190 Saint Joseph’s -7.64 0.5414 143
191 Coastal Carolina -7.67 0.4258 199
192 Missouri St. -7.68 0.5956 123
193 Mount St. Mary’s -7.68 0.3798 216
194 Charlotte -7.76 0.3478 228
195 Eastern Michigan -7.79 0.5345 150
196 Evansville -7.83 0.5388 147
197 UMKC -7.85 0.3461 230
198 Kent St. -7.89 0.4984 169
199 Toledo -7.94 0.5695 132
200 USC Upstate -7.95 0.3488 225
201 Troy -7.99 0.5021 167
202 Gardner Webb -7.99 0.4185 203
203 Columbia -8.11 0.4044 207
204 LIU Brooklyn -8.15 0.2948 258
205 Morehead St. -8.22 0.4646 185
206 Utah St. -8.27 0.5188 156
207 Boston College -8.35 0.5652 134
208 Northern Illinois -8.49 0.4105 205
209 Navy -8.56 0.4544 186
210 Long Beach St. -8.63 0.3423 232
211 Washington -8.70 0.5180 158
212 Norfolk St. -8.71 0.1991 305
213 Lamar -8.79 0.3213 245
214 Idaho -9.01 0.3551 221
215 High Point -9.02 0.3034 253
216 Western Kentucky -9.09 0.3377 238
217 Murray St. -9.11 0.4866 172
218 Wofford -9.15 0.4870 171
219 Wagner -9.18 0.3344 240
220 South Alabama -9.22 0.3534 222
221 Mercer -9.25 0.5218 153
222 Fordham -9.28 0.4435 191
223 DePaul -9.30 0.4650 184
224 Western Michigan -9.33 0.4452 190
225 Portland St. -9.33 0.3401 236
226 Siena -9.36 0.4713 181
227 Jacksonville -9.41 0.2665 272
228 Seattle -9.53 0.2656 273
229 Utah Valley -9.55 0.3753 217
230 Montana -9.63 0.4466 189
231 Nicholls St. -9.68 0.1464 321
232 San Diego -9.68 0.3032 254
233 Savannah St. -9.69 0.1462 322
234 Holy Cross -9.70 0.3587 219
235 Hawaii -9.81 0.3090 251
236 Brown -9.82 0.2774 267
237 Southeastern Louisiana -9.83 0.3287 243
238 UNLV -9.87 0.3487 226
239 Little Rock -9.88 0.3482 227
240 Illinois Chicago -9.88 0.3453 231
241 Cal St. Fullerton -9.92 0.2418 283
242 Duquesne -9.95 0.4010 209
243 Hofstra -10.05 0.4538 187
244 Rider -10.05 0.3522 223
245 Hampton -10.08 0.1763 313
246 Indiana St. -10.13 0.4400 192
247 Cal St. Northridge -10.25 0.2900 259
248 Radford -10.34 0.2401 284
249 Missouri -10.37 0.5199 154
250 IUPUI -10.39 0.3923 211
251 Abilene Christian -10.39 0.2020 304
252 Bowling Green -10.55 0.3166 248
253 Saint Louis -10.62 0.2455 279
254 St. Francis PA -10.68 0.2785 266
255 Sacramento St. -10.70 0.2249 290
256 Montana St. -10.72 0.3310 242
257 Fairleigh Dickinson -10.82 0.2830 262
258 Appalachian St. -10.83 0.3326 241
259 Southern -10.84 0.1721 314
260 South Dakota St. -10.87 0.4015 208
261 Campbell -10.89 0.2172 293
262 Portland -10.90 0.2698 268
263 Eastern Illinois -11.01 0.3600 218
264 UTSA -11.04 0.2420 282
265 UTEP -11.16 0.3417 234
266 Delaware -11.24 0.2180 292
267 North Florida -11.25 0.3237 244
268 Pepperdine -11.31 0.2389 285
269 Air Force -11.39 0.3860 213
270 Morgan St. -11.41 0.1219 331
271 Pacific -11.47 0.3173 247
272 South Florida -11.58 0.2366 286
273 Jackson St. -11.68 0.1543 320
274 South Carolina St. -11.71 0.0947 336
275 Incarnate Word -11.77 0.1666 316
276 Southeast Missouri St. -11.82 0.3098 250
277 Sacred Heart -11.90 0.2074 301
278 Maryland Eastern Shore -11.92 0.1768 312
279 Northwestern St. -11.92 0.1864 309
280 Western Illinois -11.93 0.2069 302
281 Kennesaw St. -11.93 0.2795 265
282 Bradley -11.99 0.3199 246
283 Grambling St. -12.01 0.0935 340
284 Binghamton -12.05 0.2108 299
285 Cornell -12.07 0.2809 264
286 Quinnipiac -12.10 0.2955 257
287 Florida Atlantic -12.11 0.2818 263
288 Northern Colorado -12.19 0.2330 287
289 Miami OH -12.37 0.2544 276
290 Prairie View A&M -12.41 0.1543 319
291 Tennessee Tech -12.44 0.2992 256
292 UC Riverside -12.48 0.2168 295
293 Charleston Southern -12.67 0.2048 303
294 The Citadel -12.73 0.1833 310
295 Eastern Kentucky -12.78 0.2446 281
296 Army -12.96 0.2866 261
297 Alabama St. -12.99 0.0938 338
298 Cleveland St. -13.08 0.3419 233
299 Cal Poly -13.10 0.2141 296
300 Robert Morris -13.18 0.2535 278
301 Dartmouth -13.18 0.2169 294
302 UT Rio Grande Valley -13.19 0.1989 306
303 Austin Peay -13.27 0.2105 300
304 Bryant -13.32 0.2539 277
305 Western Carolina -13.32 0.1370 327
306 VMI -13.48 0.1676 315
307 Oral Roberts -13.49 0.3407 235
308 Central Arkansas -13.52 0.1961 307
309 Manhattan -13.63 0.2240 291
310 Youngstown St. -13.76 0.2121 297
311 Southern Miss -13.81 0.1210 332
312 Tulane -13.90 0.3053 252
313 McNeese St. -13.96 0.1339 328
314 Drake -14.00 0.3013 255
315 UMass Lowell -14.04 0.2454 280
316 Lafayette -14.10 0.1371 326
317 Drexel -14.14 0.3522 224
318 Louisiana Monroe -14.14 0.2596 275
319 NJIT -14.16 0.2669 271
320 North Texas -14.21 0.1901 308
321 Milwaukee -14.35 0.2599 274
322 Colgate -14.41 0.2676 270
323 Stetson -14.50 0.1636 318
324 Delaware St. -14.71 0.1071 335
325 Howard -14.77 0.0772 342
326 Niagara -14.94 0.2873 260
327 Detroit -14.96 0.2301 289
328 Idaho St. -15.06 0.1426 325
329 James Madison -15.10 0.3462 229
330 UC Santa Barbara -15.10 0.1279 330
331 Oregon St. -15.15 0.2683 269
332 Coppin St. -15.25 0.0659 347
333 American -15.28 0.1831 311
334 Chicago St. -15.36 0.0945 337
335 Florida A&M -15.61 0.0781 341
336 Mississippi Valley St. -15.84 0.0755 343
337 Longwood -15.93 0.0602 348
338 Northern Arizona -15.97 0.1450 324
339 Hartford -16.25 0.1310 329
340 FIU -16.51 0.2330 288
341 Arkansas Pine Bluff -16.57 0.0746 345
342 Marist -16.78 0.1646 317
343 Presbyterian -17.43 0.0454 350
344 Bethune Cookman -17.48 0.0748 344
345 Maine -17.90 0.1150 334
346 Central Connecticut -17.98 0.0936 339
347 SIU Edwardsville -18.50 0.1453 323
348 Southern Utah -18.80 0.1171 333
349 Alabama A&M -19.48 0.0290 351
350 St. Francis NY -20.14 0.0686 346
351 North Carolina A&T -20.80 0.0487 349
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