Starting this season, the NCAA tournament’s selection committee is embracing more stat metrics. Here’s how that affects the Huskies’ hopes at making the Big Dance.
Didn’t think we would have to delve much into this topic this year, but the Washington men’s basketball team’s surprise ascension into prominence makes it prudent to examine the changes in the criteria the NCAA tournament Selection Committee uses to select at-large teams for the Big Dance.
The committee, which is tasked to hand out berths to the 36 nonautomatic qualifiers for its 68-team tournament, still relies on the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) but just not as much as it used to.
Starting this season, the committee is embracing more metrics including ESPN’s strength of record and BPI rankings as well as KenPom, Sagarin and KPI rankings.
The use of so many quantifiable measurements is sure to please stat geeks and coaches, who for years pushed the committee to refine its criteria.
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In response, the NCAA jettisoned the 1-50, 51-100, 101-200 and 201-and-above ratings.
Instead, the committee relies on a new rating called quadrants, which gives greater weight toward road and neutral games.
“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,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said in a story published on the NCAA’s website in December. “A wider net is cast when you play teams on a neutral court. … And an even wider one is cast when you play in a true road environment, meaning teams leaving their home arenas to play competition ranked in the 50-75 range have the opportunity to earn a Q1 win.
“At the same time, if you go on the road to play a team ranked in the low 200s, you aren’t penalized for a loss as much because it will fall in the third quadrant rather than Quadrant 4. Beating elite competition, regardless of where the game is played, will always be important to the committee, but these new quadrants redefine its definition of a quality win.”
The quadrant breakdown (based on the RPI) is as follows:
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.
Here’s how the team sheet looks for Washington (17-6, 7-3 Pac-12).
Quadrant 1: 4-3 (Wins: Kansas, Arizona, USC and Colorado; Losses: Providence, UCLA and Utah).
Quadrant 2: 1-2 (Wins: ASU; Losses: Gonzaga, Virginia Tech).
Quadrant 3: 4-1 (Wins: Belmont, UC Davis, Montana and WSU; Losses: Stanford).
Quadrant 4: 8-0 (Wins: Seattle U, WSU, Eastern Washington, California, Omaha, Loyola-Marymount, Bethune-Cookman and Kennesaw State).
And here’s where UW ranks in the ratings that the Selection Committee is using: KPI (29), RPI (37), ESPN SOR (43), Sagarin (87), Ken Pomeroy (89) and ESPN BPI (115).
Because the Huskies rank outside of what’s considered an NCAA tournament team in three of the six ratings, it explains why Washington sits on the Big Dance bubble with less than five weeks remaining before Selection Sunday.
As for the coming weeks, the Huskies don’t have any so-called “marquee” matchups among their final eight regular-season games.
Washington has four Quadrant 1 games remaining (at Oregon, home against Utah and Colorado and at Stanford), three Quadrant 3 games (at Oregon State, at Cal and home against Oregon) and one Quadrant 4 game (home against OSU).
The Huskies are trending in the right direction thanks to a four-game winning streak, but their postseason fate is still unclear.
• The 13th-ranked Arizona Wildcats draw a crowd wherever they go, which is profitable on and off the court for their Pac-12 opponents. The conference’s perennial powerhouse — and the league’s lone representative in The Associated Press Top 25 — has seen a rainbow of sold out crowds on the road.
California staged a “Gold Out” while Stanford and Utah both organized a “Red Out” when Arizona came to town. With the Wildcats visiting last week, Washington State held a “White Out” at Beasley Coliseum and Washington drew a capacity crowd for its “Black Out.”
In each game, Arizona’s opponent attracted a crowd larger than its season average.
• Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is pushing the Pac-12 to adopt a 20-game conference schedule. He’s also intrigued by a 22-game league schedule in which everyone plays two games (home and away) against each other.
|Percy Allen’s Pac-12 power rankings|
|1. Washington (17-6, 7-3)||Won four straight, which is the longest current streak in the Pac-12. The Huskies are staring up in the Pac-12 standings at Arizona and USC, but they hold tiebreaker advantages over both teams.||At Oregon|
|2. Arizona (19-5, 9-2)||Rawle Alkins will determine how far Wildcats advance. Due to a broken foot he sat out losses to NC State, SMU, Purdue and Colorado and was nonexistent (4 points on 2-for-11 shooting) in last week’s defeat at UW.||UCLA|
|3. USC (17-8, 8-3)||Since taking over in 2013, Andy Enfield is a combined 0-6 at Arizona and Arizona State. His overall record is 2-10 against UA and ASU. The Trojans’ bid for a Pac-12 title will be decided this week.||At Arizona St.|
|4. UCLA (16-7, 7-4)||Despite a top-10 2018 recruiting class, Steve Alford could be on the hot seat if Bruins miss NCAA tourney for second time in three years. They finish with 5 of last 7 games on the road.||At Arizona|
|5. Stanford (13-11, 7-4)||Former Garfield High star Daejon Davis flirted with a triple double (9 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists) in Sunday’s 96-61 win over Oregon. He’s averaging 8.3 assists in past three games.||At Utah|
|6. Utah (13-9, 5-6)||On the day billionaire booster Jon M. Huntsman died, Utes managed just 55 points — a season low — in last Friday’s loss at Colorado. Still, time to make a run considering 5 of last 7 games are at home.||Stanford|
|7. Arizona State (17-6, 5-6)||Sun Devils may have rediscovered forward Romello White last week. He had 21 points in win at WSU and 14 rebounds in loss at UW — both personal bests against Pac-12 opponents.||USC|
|8. Colorado (13-10, 5-6)||Snapped a three-game losing streak with a big win over Utah thanks in part to 13 points from Lucas Siewert. The sophomore forward has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.||Cal|
|9. Oregon (15-8, 5-5)||Ducks’ 96-61 loss at Stanford was the worst defeat in Dana Altman’s eight-year tenure. Aside from his first season, Oregon has never finished lower than third in the conference’s regular-season race.||UW|
|11. California (8-16, 2-9)||Snapped a 9-game losing streak with a 74-70 win over OSU. Still hoping to avoid setting a program record for most losses in a season. Only two teams lost 20 or more. Cal was 6-21 in 1978-79 and 9-20 in 1986-87.||At Colorado|
|10. Oregon State (11-11, 3-7)||Tres Tinkle is the only Pac-12 player to score in double figures in every game. His 25-game streak of scoring at least 10 points ties for the ninth-longest in school history.||WSU|
|12. Washington St. (9-13, 1-9)||Former AD Bill Moos gave Ernie Kent contract extensions in each of the past two years. Don’t expect new AD Patrick Chun to do the same. Kent’s contract, worth $1.4M annually, expires in 2020.||At OSU|