Correlation Betweens Wins and NCAA Bids

Posted by nvr1983 on February 16th, 2009

With Selection Sunday coming up in just a few short weeks, fans of teams across the country are starting to analyze their team’s results looking at “quality wins” and “bad losses” (Aren’t they all?), digging into obscure computer formulas that analyze strength of schedule, margin of victory, and even more esoteric statistics. However, sometimes it is better to keep it simple. One of the better examples of this comes from Stephen Greenwell (h/t to Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball for pointing this out) who decided to look at the simplest correlation of them all: wins and NCAA tournament bids.

Steven looked at the results from the 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08 seasons and stratified teams based on the number of wins they had that year regardless of their strength of schedule or any other factor. The results are below:

Unfiltered Results
Unfiltered Results

Looking at the results, Steven felt that they weren’t exactly accurate because of a couple of teams that he felt were outliers–teams that won several post-season tournament games, but failed to get an automatic bid, and teams from what he considered really weak conferences. I don’t agree with that particularly methodology because it seems somewhat arbitrary especially when you look at the teams he selected, but here are the results of the new criteria:

Filtered Wins
Filtered Results

He goes onto note that there are a handful of teams that failed to make it with a high number of wins that came from really weak conferences: 26 wins (Robert Morris, IUPUI, Akron, and Stephen F. Austin) and 25 wins (Marist, Appalachian State, and Vermont).

The basic conclusions from his analysis:

  • If you’re from a mid-major or above, win 25 games and you’re in
  • At 24 wins, a mid-major can still get an at-large (South Alabama, UAB, Pacific, and Old Dominion in 2007) and if you’re a BCS conference there is a small chance you might not get in (Syracuse in 2007)
  • If you’re a BCS conference school, things get a little more dicey at 22 or 23 wins
  • If you’re a mid-major you need at least 22 wins as no mid-major has gotten in with 21 wins or fewer except for Xavier and St. Joseph’s from the Atlantic 10, which will argue that they are not a mid-major, but that’s another post
  • Only 4 teams have gotten at-large bids with 18 wins: Oregon, Arkansas, Stanford, Kentucky, and Seton Hall

Like I said, I’m not sure I agree with Steven’s methodology when he filters the results, but it’s definitely worth looking over as Selection Sunday draws near.

nvr1983 (1318 Posts)


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