I realize it’s a crazy race. Even though I was trying to get that perfect list (which I didn’t), everyone weighs things differently. You can allocate weights in advance, do calculations, and drop the chips. But there are already many reviews that do. Heck, you could take several, aggregate them together, and do pretty well. Even doing this, however, leaves several problems.
Most important, of course, is that these reviews tend to treat all games the same. But it’s CBB, and not all games are created equal. Let’s just call it the “2011 Ohio State” problem for now, knowing that it will arise when trying to fit them into the rankings much later.
For now, today’s list is the Honorable Mention Teams. I’ve grouped them into six different groups, each of which also deals with a different issue of how to rank teams. Starting…
What are you doing with 2020?
- 2020 Indiana, 20-12 / 9-11; probably 10 seeds, # 34 in KP
- 2020 Purdue, 16-15 / 9-11; probably NIT, # 24 in KP
- 2020 Minnesota, 15-16; probably no playoffs, # 27 in KP
This one is obvious, and, given the teams above, it should be obvious that I have gone ahead and classified some (a lot, in fact) of the B1G teams from 2020. This This year would still be difficult, but it is mostly for B1G schools because the conference was so busy. Could Indiana have escaped? Sure. Was Purdue as good as some B1G schools that have done NIT races? Definitively.
BoilerUp89: It was a Purdue team that could beat anyone (and did) and lose to anyone (and did). As much as I’ve enjoyed watching them play and grow throughout this year, they don’t even make the top 100.
Type of…: Minnesota might sound overkill, but again: the 12th-place team in the conference was 27th at KenPom. There are much worse things ruined by Covid, obviously. But it’s one of the deepest lectures you’ll ever see, and these three teams at least deserve a quick shout.
Now the conference was supposed to be great in 2021 as well, but was planted in March. I understand. Without the playoffs, a big part of B1G’s reputation in 2020 is based on ratings. But, even beyond 2020, we need to address …
How important should the love of advanced evaluations be?
- 2001 Purdue: # 28 in SRS (no KP ranking in 2001)
- 2017 Indiana: # 33 in SRS, # 44 in KP
- Nebraska 2019: 29 in SRS; # 47 in KP
- 2021 Penn State: 38 in SRS; # 40 in KP
- [2005 Ohio State: #32 SRS; #30 in KP]
Obviously, I left some information here, so you probably already understand the point. Purdue went 6-10 in the conference game. Indiana 7-11. Nebraska 6-14. Penn State 7-12. [Ohio State was 8-8, but on probation.]
None have sniffed at the NCAA tournament. So, no, none are really worth a look.
But, if the advanced rankings can deviate so much from the overall record, what should we do with them on closer calls? Could there be a 24-11 team that deserves to be ranked ahead of 30-6 teams simply on the basis of what the standings say about them? Should advanced rankings be taken into account to break ties?
I checked with KP and SRS just to make sure I didn’t miss anything that was obvious, but I tend not to trust them too much. (Although that’s in part because they tend to line up relatively well with other metrics.) And when I look at them, I’m looking at the rank, not the score. I think this can be helpful in giving an idea of the quality and depth of the B1G as a whole, which is helpful context.
Should we care about NIT races?
- 2004 Michigan, 23-11 / 8-8, won NIT, # 44 KP
- 2006 Michigan, 22-11 / 8-8, lost the NIT final, # 28 KP
- 2008 Ohio State, 24-13 / 10-8, won NIT, # 31 KP
- 2009 Penn State, 27-11 / 10-8, won NIT, # 57 KP
- 2013 Iowa, 25-13 / 9-9, lost NIT final, # 29 KP
An NIT race adds wins and could increase your advanced scoring numbers. Should it matter? I have certainly factored in the NIT performance to some extent. We all know that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee was once attached to a very imperfect RPI metric, which meant that every year NCAA-caliber teams were ignored. I don’t think that’s the case for those five teams, and it’s perhaps ironic that the two that look the best in advanced metrics are the two that lost the NIT final.
In the end, I don’t think any of these teams deserved to be included in the top 100, but ’08 OSU and ’13 Iowa were both particularly roughed up by the committee.
How much can you trade your season in the NCAA tournament?
- 2013 Illinois, 23-13 / 8-10, seeded 7, loss to Miami (FL) in the second round, # 39 KP
- 2019 Minnesota, 22-14 / 9-11, 10 seed, lost to Michigan State in the second round, # 46 KP
- 2019 Ohio State, 20-15 / 8-12, seeded 11, lost to Houston in the second round, # 44 KP
- 2021 Maryland, 17-14 / 9-11, 10 seed, lost to Alabama in the second round, # 35 KP
You will sometimes hear talking heads saying that “if you don’t have a winning record in your conference, you shouldn’t be in the NCAA tournament.” I just don’t agree, and these four teams all went under 0.500 in the B1G game, but won a tournament match. In the case of Illinois in 2013, they nearly made the Sweet 16. Look at the B1G in 2013 (and remember Iowa, above, got sprayed with a general offer despite a 9. -9 in conference). The B1G’s KP score, as a conference, was 17.54. Second place, the Grand Est, was 13.81. The gap of 3.73 between the first and the second was greater than the gap between the second and the sixth. It’s not Illinois’ fault that they played in a stacked league. And if they had knocked out Miami, they were in the top 100, like every other B1G team that made the Sweet 16 during that span. This includes two teams that would not have been in the top 100 otherwise, which leads to …
Who would be there if I didn’t make any “accommodation”?
- 2007 Illinois, 23-12 / 9-7, 12 seeded, loss to Virginia Tech in the first round, # 36 KP
- 2012 Purdue, 22-13 / 10-8, 10 seed, lost to Kansas in the second round, # 30 KP
- 2015 Maryland, 28-7 / 14-4, 4 seed, lost to West Virginia in the second round, # 33 KP
- 2017 Minnesota, 23-8 / 11-7, seeded 5, lost to MTSU in first round, # 37 KP
- 2019 Iowa, 23-12 / 10-10, 10 seed, lost to Tennessee in the second round, # 37 KP
- 2021 Rutgers, 16-12 / 10-10, 10 seed, lost to Houston in the second round, # 38 KP
I made the following adjustments: 1) each B1G school has a top 100 team, 2) each B1G team that won a share of a regular season conference championship made the top 100, 3) each team B1G who won the conference tournament made the top 100, 4) Every B1G team that made the Sweet 16 made the top 100.
In my opinion, that means there are six teams in the top 100 for one of those four reasons that wouldn’t have made the list otherwise. These six teams would most likely have filled those slots.
BoilerUp89: This 2012 Purdue team was my last year and while not the most talented group I’ve ever seen, they were fighters. Oddly enough, they threw up one of the best tournament challenges at a 1 or 2 seed than any Painter team, despite re-entering the tournament with a reduced squad. But it was a good year for the B1G and for the most part the Boilers couldn’t stay with the top teams in the conference that year. Hummel dropped everything on the pitch in his last game.
Preemption of future complaints
The following are the five teams that have won an NCAA tournament game, have not yet been mentioned, and are not in the top 100, as well as the two highest rated teams by KP that have yet to mentioned and not in the top 100.
- 2003 Indiana, 21-13 / 8-8, seeded 7, lost to Pittsburgh in the second round, KP # 41
- 2005 Iowa, 21-12 / 7-9, 10 seed, lost to Cincinnati in the first round, # 27 KP
- 2006 Michigan State, 22-12 / 8-8, seeded 6, lost to George Mason in the first round, KP # 27
- 2006 Indiana, 19-12 / 9-7, 6 seed, lost to Gonzaga in the second round, KP # 34
- 2009 Michigan, 21-14 / 9-9, seeded 10, lost to Oklahoma in the second round, KP # 47
- 2009 Wisconsin, 20-13 / 10-8, 12 seeded, lost to Xavier in the second round, KP # 29
- * Michigan 2016, 23-13 / 10-8, seeded 11, loss to Notre Dame in the first round, KP # 50
* The NCAA is counting play-in games, so I will.
Type of…: This Badger side have overcome a six-game losing streak in B1G, and the KP standings suggest a damn good team. That said, there was no notable away win other than knocking out the No. 5 seed of Florida State in the first round game. And that FSU team was No. 39 in the KP. Far from a vintage Bo Ryan team.