Team of the 2000s: Wrap-Up and Honorable Mention

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2009


Direct Links to the Top Ten.

1.  UNC
2.  Kansas
3.  Florida
4.  Duke
5.  Michigan St.
6.  UConn
7.  UCLA
8.  Memphis
9.  Syracuse
10.  Maryland

Intro.  Welcome back.  We wanted to use this post to wrap up the loose ends with an endeavor such as this one.  Let’s talk about our methodology, the teams who were easiest/most difficult to place, the Memphis quandary, and the teams who were on the outside of the top ten looking in.   As always, feel free to disagree in the comments.

Defending Our Methodology.  One of the more interesting things about releasing these rankings has been the reaction from various fan bases. Some have been very measured in their response and criticism (such as the people in Lawrence, Kansas) while others have been a little more vitriolic (fans of another program in the center of the country). Most of the criticism has been directed at our methodology. There seemed to be quite a bit of confusion on this, so let’s clear it up immediately.  Some people have misinterpreted our table (below) as if the listed criteria were all considered totally and equally in how we ranked teams. Nothing could be further from the truth – rather, the table  was intended to be used as a tool showing the universe of relevant statistics that our panel might find useful when making their decisions.  There was no formula that a panelist was obliged to follow – instead, each panelist had complete discretion to consider or ignore any statistic he deemed important (or irrelevant).  Once each panelist submitted his list, we then took a holistic view of the world when determining where to rank certain teams.  Obviously we all considered winning percentage, NCAA Tournament success, conference achievements, etc., but in varying degrees.  That’s what makes these debates work – while one panelist may think that the NCAA Tournament is all that really matters and wants to weight teams almost exclusively on that metric, another panelist may want to give more substantial weight to the regular season.  Here’s the thing, though – reasonable minds always differ, and both conclusions are completely ok.  We believe that this sort of subjective analysis – review the available stats, pre-rank a list, reconvene to discuss, finalize the rankings – gives such a ranking system more credibility than simply weighting and re-weighting a formula until everything “feels” right.  For those of you who wanted a completely “objective” ranking system… well, here’s an example we did last spring that shows how the BCS formula would have applied to the NCAA Tournament.   Hint: F4 participants Villanova and UConn wouldn’t have even been invited to the Ball. In sum, we think that our methodology resulted in a solid, defensible list of the top ten programs of the 2000s.  Not everyone can be happy, but we’re comfortable with the results.

team2000s final list

Hardest Teams to Peg.  There were three teams that the panel had the hardest time nailing down – #4 Duke, #5 Michigan St., and #8 Memphis.  Both Duke and MSU received a #1 vote in our initial analyses, although to be fair, those were outliers among the panel.  Memphis was equally contentious, with half of the panel initially placing the Tigers in the top seven, while the other half didn’t even have them ranked at all.  It probably makes sense that we’ve received the most criticism based on these difficult-to-peg teams.

Easiest Teams to Peg.  On the other hand, the top three teams – #1 UNC, #2 Kansas, #3 Florida – were unanimous in order (although not in ranking).  Every panelist rated those three in the same order relative to one another, and the lowest any of the four teams were rated was fourth.  Interestingly, criticism died down on the placement of these teams.  Perhaps our panel was representative of what Average College Basketball Fan would choose as well?

What About Memphis? After the news that the NCAA vacated Memphis’ 38 wins and title appearance from the 2008 season, there was some buzz about what we should do with our list.  By our estimation, Memphis was rated as the #8 program of the 2000s, but if we removed that year, they most undoubtedly would have dropped out of the top ten.    After some internal discussion, we’re unwilling to go there.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First and foremost, we don’t want to.  We watched Memphis play its way into the national finals, we saw Derrick Rose clang his first FT with nine seconds left, and we remember the shocked look on Calipari’s face in the interview room afterwards.  We also remember Michael Redd’s shooting in 99, Marcus Camby blocking everything in sight in 96, C-Webb calling timeout in 93, and several other vacated performances over the years.  Those games and moments happened.  They’re seared into our memory.  The NCAA can vacate whatever it wants, but we’re not going to join forces with them in their legal fiction.  Which brings us to our second point on this topic.  The NCAA’s application of these penalties is so wantonly inconsistent that if we gave credence to this one while ignoring such wholesale violations known to the general public – Sam Gilbert at UCLA and Reggie Bush at USC should immediately come to mind – that we’d be doing our readers a disservice.  We recognize that cheating at some level happens nearly everywhere, but our stance is that if the NCAA doesn’t catch it and punish the school prior to the games affected, then we’re not going to join them in their after-the-fact erasures.  Sorry.  Memphis stays at #8.

The Celebrated RTC Panel
The Celebrated RTC Panel

Honorable Mention (in no particular order).

  • Pittsburgh.  Pitt was an oddity when it came to evaluating them for our countdown.  There was considerable variance among the voters as to where the Pitt program landed, and because of that they were one of the first teams to whom we awarded this “honorable mention” status.  Still, after the votes had been submitted, in the ensuing discussion it wasn’t that hard to move Pittsburgh out of the Top 10.  Make no mistake, it’s been an excellent ten years for the Pitt program, but in order to make a decade’s-end Top 10 list there are certain things you simply HAVE to get done.  Of their eight trips to the NCAA tournament, six of those saw Pittsburgh with at least a 4-seed (five of them were #3 or better).  The result?  Zero trips to the Final Four and only one Elite Eight.  It’s not like the Panthers didn’t have their chances.  True, it’s not easy to lose a coach like Ben Howland (who took Pitt to the Dance in 2002 and 2003) and the program deserves credit for a hire like Jamie Dixon, who didn’t miss a beat. And it’s not easy to lose to a Howland-coached UCLA team in 2007 in a #2-vs-#3 seed Sweet 16 game when you’re playing them in San Jose.  But if you want to be considered among the elite, you HAVE to beat 10th-seeded Kent State in the Sweet 16 when you’re a #3 (2002).  You HAVE to beat Pacific in the first round of 2005, even if you are on the low side of an #8-vs-#9 game.  You CANNOT LOSE to 13th-seeded Bradley in the second round when you’re a 5-seed (2006).  And perhaps the most painful — when you’ve earned a 1-seed after an incredible 28-4 season playing in the Big East, when you’re playing in your first Elite Eight in 35 years, you MUST beat the 3-seed, even if it is an in-state rival in the form of a very tough-nosed Villanova squad.  Dixon faces a bit of a rebuilding task in the upcoming season, but they ended the 2000s strong.  It’s because of that strong finish, that trend of improvement, that people – especially Pittsburgh fans – may be surprised to not see the Panthers in the Top 10 for the last decade.  As we start the new decade with the upcoming season, Dixon has the Pittsburgh program poised to move into that elite category.  As far as the last decade, though, they came up just short.
  • Illinois. On three of our personal Team of the 2000s rankings, Illinois barely missed the cut, meaning if the Bruce Weber-led 2005 squad managed to topple North Carolina for a national championship, they’d likely be included in the top ten. Illinois has also flamed out a bit at the tail end of the decade, finishing with a losing record in 2007-08 (16-19) before rebounding to a 24-10 mark in 2008-09 and eventually falling victim to a 12-5 upset by Western Kentucky. Bill Self and Bruce Weber have built a phenomenal program throughout the decade, though. The 2004-05 team featuring Deron Williams, Luther Head, Dee Brown and James Augustine was one of the top teams of the 2000s, flirting with an undefeated mark until Ohio State knocked them off in Columbus, then pulling off one of the most sensational comebacks in NCAA Tournament history in the Elite 8 against Arizona. Illinois has tied or won the Big Ten three times in the 2000s and finished as high as second three more times. What holds Illinois back from garnering a spot on the list? They haven’t reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament or won a conference title since that special 2004-05 campaign. Borderline teams have experienced more success in March, both in the Big Dance and in conference tournament play, than Illinois. For example, Maryland has two Final Fours, a national title and never finished with a losing record in the decade. Illinois hasn’t won the Big Ten Tournament since 2004-05. With packed recruiting classes ahead and a top-notch leader in Weber, Illinois will look to turn around a program that hasn’t been nearly as feared since watching Carolina cut down the nets on that fateful April night four years ago.
  • Gonzaga. The Zags undoubtedly were the most successful mid-major of the decade (moreso than Xavier and Butler), but their overall profile simply didn’t have enough juice to vault Gonzaga into the top ten. They dominated the WCC, winning the league eight times en route to an average of 26+ wins per year, an outstanding 80% winning percentage, and ten straight NCAA appearances.  But when it came to the NCAAs, Mark Few’s squads were only able to make it to the Sweet Sixteen four times.  And how many times in the decade were they able to advance past the third round?  Um, try zero.    Nevertheless, we believe that Gonzaga rates a tick higher than other such notable programs as Louisville, Wisconsin, Arizona and Oklahoma (all of whom made one F4) because they were so consistently good despite their scheduling limitations.  The worst Zag team (2006-07) still had 23 wins, and as a result of the weaker schedule of the WCC, their average NCAA seed was easily one of the lowest on our list.  Yet, as we all know, Gonzaga has tried to load up on high-impact RPI games during the nonconference slate, and we give them credit for that.  Fans of the other programs may quibble with this selection, but we can live with including at least one mid-major for consideration as the Team of the 2000s, and Gonzaga is our choice.
  • Arizona.  The obvious question here for Wildcat fans is how can a team that made the NCAA tournament every year for the past decade (and 25 straight if you don’t take away their vacated 1999 appearance) not be considered one of the top ten programs of the 2000s behind four teams that failed to make the tournament twice, two teams that failed to make the tournament three times, and another team that failed to make the tournament four times?  While the answer probably won’t satisfy Wildcat fans, it comes down to a few key things for us:
  1. Barely having a winning percentage at 70% despite playing in the Pac-10. Save the whining, West Coast people. The Pac-10 has only been one of the best conferences in the nation once in the past decade (2008 comes immediately to mind).
  2. Averaging 1.7 wins per NCAA Tournament appearance, which is lower than any other team in the top 10. The only team that they are close to is Syracuse and the Orange have a national title (wouldn’t be in the top 10 without it).
  3. Mediocre performance in the Pac-10. The Wildcats had 2.5 regular season conference titles (one being a split title) and 1 postseason conference title (since it was started in 2002). Like we said before, the Pac-10 might have the most attractive co-eds in the nation (although the SEC has a strong case), but the Pac-10 pales in comparison to the ACC, Big East, Big 12, SEC, and the Big 10 over the past decade in terms of the quality of their basketball teams.
  4. You could argue that the Wildcats got lucky with many of those NCAA tournament bids, most notably two years ago when they got in ahead of an Arizona State team that had a very strong case for being in above their rival.
rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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15 responses to “Team of the 2000s: Wrap-Up and Honorable Mention”

  1. bevo says:

    Texas does not merit an Honorable Mention? Really? In this decade, the Horns went to one Final Four and two Elite Eight. Although with Memphis getting stripped of its 2007-2008 season, does that mean the Horns have a second Final Four appearance? Twice, conference co-champions. Individually, TJ Ford and Kevin Durant highlight a talented decade.

  2. rtmsf says:

    Bevo, Texas was the proverbial “last team out.” It was tough but somebody had to drop out, and Texas’ stats looked almost identical to Pitt and Arizona. We probably could have raised the Horns over Gonzaga, but we did want to throw a bone to the best mid-major of the decade too.

  3. nvr1983 says:

    To be honest, I wanted Texas to be an honorable mention team, but others on the committee overruled me. I can see your point although I’m not a big fan of the “take Memphis out and we advance further” argument for a bunch of reasons, which were in the original text of my contribution to this post that rtmsf edited out. Personally, I would have put Texas above Gonzaga (no Elite 8s) and Pittsburgh (no Final 4s and missing 2 NCAA tournaments).

  4. Pete Anderson says:

    Texas? Really? Wake me up when Texas does something memorable in Bball

    I am an Arizona fan, just so you know, but AZ should be #8 on this list in spite of 2 years turmoil. Gonzaga gets a lot of love for no good reason just like Texas and Pitt.

    It’s funny that the author broke down his negative points against UA into four distinct categories, but not anyone else. The other Honorable Mentions were def. more positive comments even though Pitt, Gonzaga, maryland, and syracuse have way less of a resume for top ten.

  5. Pete Anderson says:

    here is a response to the four points:

    1. The Pac10 plays every one twice, unlike some other leagues. This guarantees more losses.
    The Pac10 was the best league in 2001, ask Duke. They beat four Pac10 teams to reach the NC. being the best league 20% of the decade ain’t too shabby.

    2. Wins in the tournament is a result of seeding, a maority of the time, check the stats. In fact, just scroll up and look: maryland, Pitt and Illinois all have better avg seeds but worse (or same) win avgs!

    Also, making the Sweet Sixteen 50% of the time is better than most (only 4 did better)

    3. Once again, only 5 teams won more conf. titles than Arizona, not ten or thirteen of the top decade teams.

    “Pales” in comparison?? Try being accurate. The SEC was a joke last year. The Big10 was a couple of baskets from having no one in the Sweet Sixteen (although I am a big fan of Mich ST), and the ACC, other than NC, was not impressive. The 2 best conferences were the Big East and Big 12, by far.

    The AUTHOR actually says JUST THE YEAR BEFORE that the Pac10 was dominant –in point #1. Not my words, his.

    4. You could argue that the Wildcats got lucky the past two years. 2 years does not equal many. You could argue that, but you would still be in the minority, and you would still be wrong, and Arizona still went to the Sweet Sixteen this year.

  6. Gators_Rule! says:

    Your criteria is bogus. Florida is the team of the 2000’s in college basketball!
    Florida is a new basketball power & outperformed every team in the NCAA during the 2000s!

    When you compare these teams, it’s appropriate to do a top-down analysis (i.e., NC’s, NC-runner up, F4,..etc) and not a bottom-up analysis. This blogger did not give any credit for NC-runner up yet makes a big deal about number of S16’s & conference tourneys/championships.

    Only, North Carolina is even close to Florida’s achievements this decade (see below). And after this year, Florida will be the team of the 2000s in Football as well. No other program in the history of the NCAA can make such a claim! Tops in the 2000’s decade in both Football & Basketball. Oh my! Gator-haters Beware!!

    The simplest way to compare who is the best college basketball team of the decade is by determining which team won the most NC’s that decade (i.e, the same way we are comparing it in college football – between Florida, LSU, & maybe USC). Who is number 1 in college basketball for the 2000s decade is strictly between Florida & North Carolina (and nobody else as each won 2 NC’s apiece & other contenders won only 1 NC).

    Here is my criteria (& my reasoning given below) for rating the best college basketball teams.
    In descending criteria (2000-2009),

    # of NC’s (+100):——————2——2——–1——1——-1——–1
    # of NC-runner-ups (+20):——–1——0——1——0——-1———0
    # of F4’s (+10):——————–3——4——3——2——-4———2

    # of NCAA Tourney appearances:8——8—–10—–10——-7———8

    (I didn’t bother giving points for S16’s ,E8’s or Conference tourneys/champs – for seeding purposes only!)

    # of Conference Tourneys:——-3——-2——-3—–7——1———2
    # of Reg season championships:3——5——-7——4——3———4
    (0 points)

    # of NC’s (+100):——————1—–1—–0—–0
    # of NC-runner-ups (+20):——–0—–0—–0—–1
    # of F4’s (+10:———————2—–1—–0—–3

    # of NCAA Tourney appearances:7—–4—–9—–8

    # of Conference Tourneys:——-1—–2—–3—–2
    # of Reg season championships:1—–2—–4—–3

    From my criteria above, I have Florida as “The team of the 2000s” edging out North Carolina because of the NC-runner up finish by the Gators in 2000:

    1. Florida: 258
    2. N. Carolina: 248
    3. Michigan St.: 167 (Upset!)
    4. Kansas:160
    5. Duke: 130
    6. UConn: 128
    7. Maryland: 127
    8. Syracuse: 114
    UCLA: 58
    Kentucky: 9

    As you can see from my above table, North Carolina missed 2 NCAA Tourney appearances earlier in the decade just like FLorida has in the last two years. Florida (0.754), Michigan State (0.721), Kansas (0.798), Duke(0.826) and others have a higher winning percentage than North Carolina (0.711); yet, this blogger names Carolina as its “team of the 2000s”, followed by Kansas, Florida, Duke, and Michigan State. How can a team with one of the lowest winning percentages be the team of the decade?

    How can this be? Is it because NCAA tourney performance count the most (i.e, NC’s, NC-runner ups, Final4’s …….S16’s, NCAA tourney appearance)?
    By the way, this blogger did not give any credit for NC-runner up yet makes a big deal about number of S16’s & conference tourneys/championships.

    Remaining Criteria (Reason for zero points for conf tourneys):
    Conference Tourneys & Regular conference champions are for seeding purposes only in the NCAA tourney – and doesn’t determine how you do in the NCAA tourney. The only thing people remember most about a team is what it does in a final 4.

    Duke & Kansas won 10-11 conference tourney/championships each; yet, each team only won one NC. Duke made only 2 F4’s and Kansas made 3 F4’s the same number as UF. Florida, with less NCAA tourney appearances (8 vs.10) and far less conference tourneys/chmps (6), made 3 F4’s and won 2 NC’s and one NC-runner up. Even though Duke & Kansas went to more S16’s (8 & 7, respectively), they accomplished less overall in the NCAA tourney than FLorida or North Carolina.

    Wouldn’t you agree? You tell me who is more consistent between Florida and Kansas. The extra S16 appearances by Kansas doesn’t trump that second NC by Florida! Kansas went to 3 F4’s and lost twice in the semifinals. They were lucky they did not become a runner-up to Memphis and have zero NC’s.

    Another thing, Michigan State actually outperformed Kansas during the 2000s despite going to less (7 vs. 10) NCAA tourneys. MSU went to more F4’s (4 vs 3) than Kansas. They each have one NC but MSU also has a NC-runner up finish to edge out KU for 3rd on my list.This blogger has KU #2 above Florida and ranks MSU 5th which I think is wrong!

  7. rtmsf says:

    Gators! Rule – we happen to believe that College Basketball is more than just the NCAA Tournament, and that the NCAA Tournament is more than just the Final Four. You’re welcome to your opinion, but we take a more holistic view of the game than that.

    Besides, you value NCs five times as much as the runner-up – why not just make it 50x as much, or 500x as much?

    And as far as we’re concerned, Utah won the MNC in football last year as the only team to not lose a game all year.

  8. nvr1983 says:

    Texas may not have done anything remarkable (other than produce Kevin Durant–easily one of the top 5 players to come out of college basketball in the past decade), but they have had consistently solid teams. They haven’t been great. That’s why they aren’t in the top 10 just like the teams listed here. I just felt they had a stronger case than some of the “also receiving votes” teams (particularly Gonzaga).

    On Arizona:
    Syracuse and Maryland are in there because they won a title. Arizona got the title game once, but failed to capitalize. If they had won that game, they might have ended up as high as #8. Heck, if they hadn’t choked against Illinois in 2005 they might have made the top 10 anyways.

    I actually wrote the Arizona section. The “author” of this post actually compiled his thoughts with those of the 3 other pollsters. Personally I would have made it more evident who wrote what, but I don’t think it’s a particularly big deal. The reason the Arizona section is so critical and the others are less so is because I wrote the Arizona section. If I had written the sections for Gonzaga, Illinois, and/or Pittsburgh I would have torn apart their top 10 cases too. As for your points:

    (1) Playing each team twice only means that you play each team twice. It helps an average team’s record just as much to play Oregon as it hurts the same team to play Washington. Last year, the Pac-10 teams played 18 conference regular season games. Here is the breakdown of conference regular season games for the other BCS conferences: ACC (16), Big 12 (16), Big East (18), Big Ten (18), and SEC (16). So 2 conferences played the same number of games while the others played 2 less. Hardly a noticeable difference even before you consider who these conferences play in their non-conference schedules. As for 2001, having 4 of your teams get beat by the eventual champs doesn’t make that strong of a case for being the best league that year. Having 3 of your teams in the Final 4 would, but just getting beat by Jason Williams and Company doesn’t. If you want to pull out some 2001 Sagarin ratings I would pay attention, but getting beat doesn’t mean you are good. You could also make a strong argument for 2 other conferences that year just off the top of my head: Big Ten (7 bids, 1 S16, 1 E8, and 1 F4) or the ACC (5 bids, 1 F4, and the champs–not to mention a good UNC team that got upset in the 2nd round). You’re also neglecting all the years the Pac-10 was awful in the middle of the decade.

    (2) That’s not a particularly shocking observation especially when a #1 has never lost to a #16. Of course you can’t argue causation since teams that continually get #1 seeds tend to be better than those than get the last bid. As for Illinois and Gonzaga, like I said I would have killed them too if I had written their section.

    (3) I’m hardly alone in considering the Pac-10 far below the Big East (2 top 10 programs, 1 “also receiving votes”, and 2 titles) and ACC (3 top 10 programs and 4 titles) in terms of quality of basketball the past decade. The Big Ten and the SEC in particular can be debated, but I would argue that they have had better top level teams than the Pac-10 in the past decade.

    (4) “Many” may have been the wrong word there, but it was in reference to questioning how strong their 10-year consecutive streak of NCAA tournament bids was. The S16 run was nice, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that their case for being in the NCAA tournament was very tenuous.

  9. Spartan in WI says:


    You might want to check your table. Michigan State was at every NCAA tourney during the 2000s. Not sure whether that changes your thoughts, but you gotta give them some props for that!

  10. Gators_Rule! says:

    Sparty! My apologies for my mistake. I think I misread the data from this site! I re-computed the total for MSU again using my rough criteria to be 170 which is still a strong 3rd place for the decade!

    Rtmsf! You are funny & weird in your logic! Let me address your points in reverse order!

    It’s laughable that your “holistic” group of people think Utah was the mnc! All of college football tries to use logic to set up the annual BCS National championship by pitting the two best teams against each other once the regular season is completed – the final AP & Coaches poll determined that Florida is #1 for 2008 as National champs.

    Who did utah defeat to become the NC? The Pac-10 champion? The Big-12 champion? Or was it the SEC champion? No?
    Utah was only ranked #6 in the final regular season BCS poll. They were not chosen as one of the two best teams remaining once the regular season ended.

    The National championship game was played between #1Oklahoma & #2 Florida.
    To get to this game, UF defeated many teams playing the 4th toughest schedule including the defending National champs LSU tigers (51-21), the preseason #1 team Georgia bulldogs(49-10), an undefeated #1 Alabama crimson tide (31-20) in the SEC championship game and finally the Big-12 champion, #1 Oklahoma sooners (24-14).

    Utah may have finished undefeated but they have played only the 76th rated SOS. With such a weak schedule, no wonder they were not even considered for the championship game.
    UF played the 4th toughest schedule. As the #2 team, Florida defeated two #1 ranked teams in consecutive games they have played. Has a team ever done that in the history of college football?

    If teams from a non-BCS conference such as Utah want to compete for the NC, they have to schedule & defeat the power teams on the road to be considered for the BCS championship game. For instance in the regular season, Utah has to go to Los Angelas and defeat Southern Cal or they have to go to Big 12 territory and defeat Texas in Austin or Oklahoma in Norman.

    Incidentally, when Central Florida canceled its game with Florida this year, UF tried to schedule one game with Utah in Gainesville. But the Utes were too chicken to play the gators and the best game we could get on short notice is Charleston Southern (which we are getting big grief for playing them; since, we are 73 point favorites)!

    These piss-ant little teams like Utah, TCU, Boise state, etc. need to prove they belong by scheduling and defeating a perennial top 5 team that I mentioned above. That is how former Independents like Florida State & Miami achieved their past success in the 1980s – by scheduling & defeating teams like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio State, etc. Even Notre Dame scheduled national teams in the 1920s-1940s in order to compete for NC’s!

    But, getting back to college basketball!

    By the way great job on your staff writing up the content for “The Team of the 2000s”. Even though I didn’t agree with your rankings, it was still fun reading!

  11. Gators_Rule! says:

    “Besides, you value NCs five times as much as the runner-up – why not just make it 50x as much, or 500x as much?”

    Don’t be daft, what would be the point? By using a minimum weight as necessary, I wanted to make a distinction of winning a NC is significantly greater than winning several S16’s, conference championships, etc. I also wanted to reward a NC runner-up (who is one of only two teams out of 64+ teams remaining who had the best chance of winning a NC) over a F4 participant that did not advance – by simply doubling the points (2 x 10) over a F4 particpant (10 points) received.

    Besides, you can allow a situation where a perenial runner-up still has a chance to be the team of a given decade over a team who may win more NC’s. Say a Duke or Kansas wins one NC and became runner-up for the remainder of a decade, they would accumulate enough points (280) to overcome a two time NC like a Florida or North Carolina. That team would be like the Atlanta Braves of college basketball. :)

    I hope you got some math majors in your “holistic” group to follow for what I am about to explain to you! I haven’t done this since I was a college student many moons ago! :)

    I used a type of logarithmic scale (factor of 10) to give weight to each achievement gained in the NCAA tourney. The power increases to each level of success:

    (10 to power 0) = 1 : for an NCAA appearance
    (10 to power 1) = 10 : for a Final 4
    10 to power 2) = 100 : for a National championship (the Ultimate achievement)
    National Runner-Up: 10x 2 = 20 points

    Winning the National championship is the greatest achievement, relatively speaking, when compared to winning a conference championship, S16, E8 or Final 4 appearance. So, I gave this achievement the highest weight (100 points).

    Comment: you can skip my math explanation here and just go to my final post (I feel like I am writing a paper!)
    I could have given points for each win when advancing the rounds (i.e, double the points for each round or just add +2 for each advancement :
    – 2nd rd: +2
    – S16: +4
    – E8: +6 (or +8)

    Now, here is the slight of hand math trick to justify my reasoning for not awarding points for S16’s or E8’s using some principles of Logarithmics:
    Earlier events (i.e., S16, E8) are insignificant when compared to the ultimate event (i.e, winning a national championship). But later events (i.e., F4 appearance, National runner-up) become more significant when comparing to the ultimate event. The earlier events are “noise” in the background that can be ignored when trying to determine the big picture (i.e, which set of teams are the best by looking at their ultimate achievements).

    For instance, an achievement of multiple S16 (+4 points) or E8(+6) would be insignificant compared to winning one NC (100 points) – wouldn’t you say
    (100 >> n*(4 or 6)?
    But, an achievement of multiple F4’s or NC-runner-ups become more significant when comparing to the ultimate achievement.

    Now are you really going to tell me that all conference championships & tourneys are weighted the same?
    Is a Big Ten championship equivalent to a Big Sky conference championship?
    Like I said before, they are just for seeding purposes in the NCAA tourney and shouldn’t count when determining the best teams.

    What’s the deal between number of All-Americans vs NBA draft picks? Have you noticed that Duke, North Carolina, Kansas have the most All-Americans yet all of the other elite teams you are comparing have roughly produced a similar amount of NBA draft pics? Could it be that ESPN & other media cover certain teams 24/7 during basketball season more than the other teams and that these teams’ players are favored to receive more accolades? Why the discrepancy & why bother giving credit here?

    The only way to compare teams objectively is by direct competition in the NCAA tourney. That’s why you look at NCAA tourney performance. Anyways, years from now, you think the average lay person is going to delve deeper than how many NC’s a team wins per decade. They are not going to care about how many conference championships, S16’s, or how many All-Americans a program achieved.
    Anyways, applying my crude formula to other decades:

    NC NC-RU F4 Total
    (The 90’s)
    Kentucky: 2 1 4 260
    Duke: 2 2 5 290 (Team of 90s: Duke)

    (The 80s)
    Indiana 2 0 2 220
    Louisville 2 0 4 240 (Team of 80s: Louisville)
    Duke 0 0 4 40
    North Car. 1 1 3 150

    (The 70s)
    UCLA 5 0 7 570 (Team of 70s: UCLA)

    (The 60s)
    Cincinati 2 1 4 260
    Ohio St 1 2 4 180
    UCLA 5 0 6 560 (Team of 60s: UCLA)

    (The 50s)
    Kentucky 2 0 2 220
    San Francisco 2 0 3 230
    Kansas 1 2 3 170 (Team of 50s: San Francisco)

    (The 40s)
    Kentucky 2 0 3 230
    Okla. A&M 2 1 3 250 (Team of 40s: Oklahoma A&M)

    You guys have a nice day! :)

  12. nvr1983 says:

    I don’t believe that we have any math majors in our group, but I don’t doubt for a second that every member of our group (with a combined 4 professional degrees by my last count) can easily follow your model. I think your mathematical model is the basic reason why didn’t try to create one. You can manipulate the relative weights a million different ways until you come up with a result you like, which isn’t that different than what a lot of businesses and consultants do. The Utah comment was obviously a joke, but you can certainly create a formula to make it so that the Utes were the national champs. Rtmsf wasn’t the one in the discussion who was being daft. As for your logarithmic scale, I’m not sure how you are deciding on those intervals as it seems somewhat arbitrary (just like the rest of the formula). Now you can argue that we are being subjective in our evaluation of the teams and we readily admit that. Just be aware that the very nature of mathematical modeling in cases where you can’t directly test the outcome is by its very nature subjective.

    On the other points:
    (1) Conference titles: They are just used to help the reader remember a team’s regular season accomplishments. Obviously we factor in the quality of the different conferences. Since you are so into SAT-level math, here’s a SAT analogy for you:

    ACC basketball:SEC basketball :: SEC football:WAC football

    (2) Translating All-Americans into NBA Draft Picks. The AAs were only for consensus picks, which obviously is a much rarer designation than being a “NBA Draft Pick”. You should notice that there are much fewer AAs than Draft Picks (yes, even at Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas). The different categories signify the difference between Jason Williams (the college version) and Chris Duhon. I am guessing that if you created a subset for “Lottery” or “Top 5” picks it would correlate much more closely with the number of AAs in our chart. I haven’t bothered running through the numbers, but feel free to since you seem to have the time.

    (3) The “average lay person” would probably forget to factor in NIT titles from the earlier decades when determining the “Team of the Decade”.

  13. tyus edney says:

    Wow the pac-10 bashing is pretty flippant and consistent throughout your site. Thanks for keeping the stereotypes alive.

    Here is one way to rank conferences using actual data. I am just used to comparing things with data. Sorry its a problem I have. I averaged the conference ranking calculated by kenpom for the last five and ten years. it seems the Pac-10 is not quite the Missouri Valley that you make it out to be. Really only the ACC stands out.

    Average conference ranking for last 5 or 10 yrs.
    10 yrs 5 yrs
    Acc 2.1 Acc 2
    SEC 3.8 Big East 3
    Big10 3.9 Pac-10 3.6
    Big East 4.3 Big12 4
    Pac-10 4.5 SEC 4.2
    Big12 4.9 Big10 4.2

    And I believe UCLA was punished for Sam Gilbert after Wooden left so I don’t see how that makes them an example of getting off for various digressions.

  14. nvr1983 says:

    Thanks. We try to be consistent in our analysis.

    Actually we just call it like we see it. We have been accused of hating almost every team/conference at one time or the other by various visitors. With very few exceptions, the Pac-10 has lacked the great teams that the other conferences have had, which makes Arizona’s lack of success within the conference a much bigger minus than it would be if they finished as a runner up to a Duke, UNC, or Kansas.

    The probation UCLA got was a relative slap on the wrist compared to what the NCAA could have done (erasing Wooden from the record books). Obviously the NCAA would never do that to save face, but I think pretty much everybody who follows basketball closely knows that a lot of shady stuff went on during the Wooden era because of Gilbert.

  15. tyus edney says:

    Its just too convenient for those who say that the fact UCLA has as many championships as the entire ACC is because of some guy named Sam Gilbert. If you are relying on Jerry Tarkanians book to support your claims then you should ask about your source and his motives. Obviously something was going on but its far from proven that it was responsible for significant contributions to that amazing run. I certainly don’t lump it in with Reggie Bush but I am biased on that.

    The other topic is the discussion of relative conference strength. As long as the argument is framed as conference championships then I guess you have an argument. However, four different pac-10 teams have been top seeds this decade and UCLA with three straight final fours was pretty good compettion in the later years and Stanford was good in the first part of the decade. But when people ignore the size of a conference when talking about an entire conference it drives me crazy. The Big East was good last year but had more then enough dog teams that people like to forget about.

    Besides next year everyone will be dogging on the pac-10 so why do you have to dog it after one of its better periods.

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