09.03.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 3rd, 2009

On the eve of college football’s start…  let’s get caught up on the news and notes from the last week in roundball.

  • Preaching to the Choir.  Gary Parrish wrote an article that was ostensibly about the A10′s financially-motivated decision to move from its ancestral home of Philadelphia to its Sun Belt environs of Newport News, Virginia, but morphed into a scathing critique of the rapidly increasing revenue gap between the power conferences and the mid-majors.  We liken this a little bit to what has happened in major league baseball over the past twenty years or so.  It’s not an issue of there once being equality where now there is none; it’s more an issue of relative inequality being much larger than it ever has been (and only increasing).  The Yankees and other major market franchises in MLB always had more money to spend on players, marketing, etc., and were summarily rewarded with larger media deals and ticket prices.  This is similarly true for the power conferences in football and basketball.  But in the modern era of 100-million dollar contracts for baseball players and billion-dollar contracts for media rights, what we’re witnessing is an acceleration of the revenue gap between large and small to a future point that is completely unsustainable.  As an example of the disparity, the $2.2B television contract that the SEC has with ESPN is probably worth more than the contracts of every mid-major league in existence has ever had, combined.  Seriously.  As Parrish points out, this sort of exposure leads to recruits, and the cycle starts all over again.  We’re really uncertain as to how the NCAA plans to deal with this over the next decade, but if we know anything about the entity at all, we’re betting that they’ll be completely behind the curve when something happens.        
  • Vegas Watch: Big 12 PreviewWe mentioned this in a previous FBs, but Vegas Watch is leading an exercise previewing each of the six BCS conferences using last year’s Pomeroy rankings, this year’s incoming recruits, and the sharp eye of his respected cronies (Money Line Journal and Sports Investments).  He invited RTC along for the ride this time around, and we tried to provide some value where we could.  Keep an eye out for the remaining installments over the next several weeks.  (note: not even a regression analysis is needed to determine KU is #1 in the Big 12)
  • Get Creative, SEC Schools.  Look, it’s not every year that a player named Nimrod Tishman comes into your league as a freshman, assuming that the NCAA clears his amateur status in the next few weeks.  But Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators picked up the 6’6 Israeli to replace Nick Calathes and you should expect to see his curious name all over the place next season.   So here’s our request of the other 11 SEC schools – get creative.  Come up with some really clever signs and chants for when Florida visits your house this winter.  If we hear a school derisively chanting his first name with no further thought or effort put into it, we’re going to be extremely disappointed.  Come on, UK and UT fans, we know you’ve got something up your sleeves – an opportunity like this only comes around once a decade. 
  • SI’s 25 Things We Miss in Basketball.  This wasn’t exclusively a list of college basketball memories, but the ones chosen by Grant Wahl, Seth Davis and others were exceptional.  It’s not every day we can honestly say we learned something completely new about the modern era of CBB, but the piece about Bo Ellis designing Marquette’s national title year “untucked” jerseys indeed was (image here).  It was so ugly that the NCAA banned it a few years later.  We also enjoyed the pieces on great team nicknames, Len Bias and the SEC in the 80s.  Give it a read.  You won’t regret it.
  • Closing Out Pitino/Sypher.    An awful lot of bandwidth was used writing about the Pitino/Sypher Scandal, and presumably there’s more to this story coming down the road.  But the best piece we read last week was this one on CNNSI by Pablo Torre, who attempts to describe Pitino’s inner circle and how intertwined they all are.  The worst one was this abomination by Jason WhitlockThen there was this hard-hitting interview from WLKY in Louisville… 
  • Comings and GoingsJ’Covan Brown was cleared to play at Texas this season.  Ditto with Mississippi St.’s John Riek, who will sit out the first nine games of the season over extra benefits.  Pitt’s Gilbert Brown, on the other hand, will be sitting out the fall semester due to academic troubles.  South Carolina picked up a heckuva transfer in walk-on Malik Cooke, who averaged 9/5 for Nevada last season.  Darryl “Truck” Bryant’s legal troubles don’t appear to be too burdensome – he’ll face no jail time after leaving the scene of an accident and striking a WVU student with his vehicle in separate incidents this summer.  What’s that get you under Huggins?  A one-game suspension?  Finally, in the let’s-keep-our-fingers-crossed dept., BYU’s Dave Rose got a clean bill of health after his pancreatic cancer surgery earlier this summer.  He’s hopeful that he’ll be back on the court this season (his next scan is in two weeks).
  • Quick HitsJohn Wooden: On death, penises and politicsCalipari: disappointed in Memphis penaltiesNCAA Selective Enforcement: we need as many people writing as many articles about these inconsistencies as possible.  Tom Crean: Marquette HOFerKevin Stallings: forgoes $100k raise for team trip Down UnderGreg Paulusstarting QB at CuseGoodmanimpact transfers for 09-10.  Patrick Christopher: the new JJ RedickEric Bledsoe: better than WallScout: summer all-americans and class of 2011 rankings.   Delaware: looks like NFL parlays or nothing at all, folks.  Arizona: can the Cats scratch their way to 26 in a rowBilly Clyde: the least hirable coach in America?  FIU: caves, will play UNC after all.  Jarvis Varnado: heading home, but what caused his sudden illness?  Ed Davender: ticket scammerBBall Prospectus: careful slurping that class of 09 just yet…  Nebraska: inventing new ways to hold scholarship playersTeddy Dupay: 30 days in jailNCAA Ethics: John Beilein is the head man, and here’s what coaches want to seeBank Robber Recruit: Anthony DiLoreto signs with Utah St. 
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Watch Out, SEC. The Mountain West is Breathing Down Your Neck.

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2008

You may recall last week that we looked at how the power conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, SEC) were doing halfway through the non-conference schedule this year.  We generally concluded that the ACC and Big East are currently at the top of the heap, and the SEC in particular should be booted out of the group.

What Mid-Majors Play For

What Mid-Majors Play For

But what about the mid-majors?  As important as the non-conference slate is for the BCS schools in terms of seeding and whether five or six teams are invited to the Big Dance, it’s even more important to the mid-majors who are fighting for simply a second or third bid and assuredly will see their conference RPIs drop once conference season begins.  So today we take a look at evaluating the mid-majors’ performance thus far, keeping in mind the dual criteria for success that we established last week – considerable success against your peers and domination of your subordinates.  We’ll add a third criterion for these mid-majors, which is a reasonable showing against your superiors (the power conference schools) as well.  So let’s take a look at the W/L numbers thus far (through 12.11.08):

mid-majors-h2h-121108

It seems clear to us right off the bat that the Mountain West (ranked #7 by both Sagarin and Pomeroy) has the best overall profile thus far.  While it has struggled with its BCS record (.214), its measure in that category is only significantly worse than two conferences – the A10 (.355) and the WCC (.411) – in that regard.  But the MWC has absolutely dominated its peer conferences (.704) and its underlings (.900) as if it were a power onference-lite (watch yourselves, SEC).  It’s overall non-conference record is also outstanding for a mid-major, at 49-22 (.690), bettering its peers by a considerable margin (#2 - Missouri Valley - .583).

For the next best mid-major conference, we’re split between the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10 and Conference  USA.  The A10 has a solid 11-20 (.355) record against the big boys, whereas the MVC (.176) and CUSA (.263) do not, but the MVC has performed significantly better against its peers (.583 vs. .357/.500, respectively).  All three conferences have pretty well owned their subordinates this year.  So how to distinguish the three?  Let’s go with the top-heavy theory.  According to Sagarin, the A10 has six teams in the top 100, the MVC has five, and CUSA has four.  Good enough for us.

mid-major-licious-2

There’s a pretty clear delineation between these top four mid-majors and the others – WCC, Horizon, MAC, WAC, Colonial, but we’re not going to try to distinguish from among this group because it’s largely too close to call based on the above data.  As it currently stands, it will be a struggle for any of these five conferences to put a second team into the NCAA Tournament this year (St. Mary’s needs to keep that in mind).  Nevertheless, we do want to point out a few interesting observations that we had along the way.

  • The MAC is 0-16 against power conference schools.  You’re not going to be a mid-major very long playing like that.  The Colonial is barely any better.
  • The WCC is a respectable 7-10 against the power conferences, but lays an egg against the low-majors (9-12).  We have to believe this shows just how top-heavy this conference is (w/ Gonzaga and St. Mary’s).
  • The Horizon needs to play more games against D1 opponents – we can’t believe they’ve only played 12 games against the low majors (6-6).

We’ll check back in on this when we get to the end of the non-conference schedule, because at that point with few exceptions, conference positions are relatively static.

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Statistically Confirming the SEC is Garbage

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008

During the nonconference portion of the season we can use the cross-pollination among the BCS teams as well as their games against the mid-majors as an early warning system of sorts to determine which conferences are the strongest in a given year.  Last year the Pac-10, for example, got off to a strong start, and by and large that conference was considered the best in the nation throughout most of the 2007-08 season.

Believe it or not, we’re already one-quarter of the way through the regular season (and halfway through the nonconference slate), so we have plenty of raw data to start making those determinations.  From what we see thus far, it appears that there are three grades of power conferences, with the ACC & Big East at the top, the Big 10 and Big 12 in the middle, and the Pac-10 and SEC pulling up the rear.  For confirmation, take a look at the table below.

conf-h2h-1205081

Data Source:  basketballstate.com

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FIU Still an NBA Breeding Ground

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2008

Spring is in the air, the F4 is well into our rearview mirror and we’re gearing up for nightly visits with Ernie, Chuck and The Jet on Inside the NBA (with occasional stop-ins from Magic, Reggie and several others, of course). This means it’s playoff time in the Association, which also means its time for RTC’s second annual review of the pedigree of the key contributors for all sixteen playoff teams. Yes, second annual. That’s the first time we’ve been able to say that and it feels invigorating.

Where Are All the Auburn Players, Chuck?

As the three of you who were around at the beginning of this blog may recall from last year’s post, we learned that 56% of key contributors on playoff teams went to a BCS conference school, another 18% came from other levels of college basketball, and 26% were foreign and/or never stepped foot on a college campus. We also learned that the historically best schools tend to produce the most contributing pros on playoff teams, as Duke, Kentucky, UConn, UNC and UCLA led the way with the most players last year. But that trend was bucked somewhat when one considers that teeny little Florida International University managed to produce two players who were key contributors to playoff teams, more than such notable programs as Syracuse, Louisville and Indiana.

So what about this year? For ease of analysis, we did what we always do – we created excel tables! Remember, all data only considers what we call key contributors – players who played in at least half of its team’s games and averaged over 10 minutes per game. For the starters data, we used the starting lineups as announced in the first game of each playoff series last weekend (therefore, Gilbert Arenas is not represented, having only played 13 games this year and coming off the bench in the first game of the playoffs). We ended up with 158 key contributors and 80 starters over sixteen teams.

Quick Hits:

  • Roughly the same number of key contributors on this year’s playoff teams (25%) never stepped foot on a college campus as compared to last year (26%). We expect that the foreign cohort will stay roughly the same (15%/16%) or even rise a little in the future, but with the NBA’s new one-and-done rule now in the second year of its implementation, the high school-only crowd (11%/14%) should continue to dwindle in the next five years.
  • Last year Duke, UConn and Kentucky each had six players contributing to playoff teams. This year, only UNC has as many as five contributors, all of whom are starters (R. Wallace, J. Stackhouse, M. Williams, A. Jamison, B. Haywood). There are five other schools with four contributors each, and seven schools with three each. After UNC’s five starters, only Duke (C. Boozer, G. Hill, S. Battier), UConn (R. Allen, C. Butler, R. Hamilton) and Wake Forest (T. Duncan, J. Howard, C. Paul) have as many as three starters in the playoffs this year (although we’d take Wake’s three over anybody else’s).
  • The cream rises, doesn’t it? Of the top 13 schools mentioned with three or more contributors this year, they account for 38 of the last 60 Final Four teams (63%) and 10 of the last 15 national champions (67%).
  • Which school doesn’t belong (again)? Thanks to Raja Bell and Carlos Arroyo, little Florida International once again made its name onto the list among all the heavyweights with two key contributors. FIU has more players contributing in the playoffs than the likes of hoops stalwarts Ohio St. (0), Louisville (0), and Indiana (0).

More Quick Hits:

  • Considering only the 118 players who went to college in some capacity, the six BCS conferences account for 69% of key contributors and 50% of playoff starters. This is a dropoff from last season (76%/77%), which shows some of the variability that goes into comparing different playoff teams in a year-over-year manner – four of the sixteen teams in this year’s NBA playoffs are different.
  • Take a look at the top three conferences above – the ACC, Pac-10 and SEC. They look roughly equivalent when comparing them by number of key contributors (17/15/15), but when you consider them by starters (13/3/8), you see a rift develop. It appears that all three leagues produce a lot of NBA talent (47 players), but the ACC appears the best in producing playoff-caliber starting talent. The SEC is solid at doing so, but the Pac-10 appears to excel in producing backups for good teams. By the same token, the Big East may not have as much NBA talent on good teams this year (only 11), but they tend to be starters (8).
  • The mid-major and low-major D1 conferences account for 29% of key contributors and 27% of starters this year, somewhat above last year’s totals (24%/13%). Speaking of mid-majors, take a look at the Atlantic 10 again – with 8 key contributors and 5 starters, this league arguably outdoes a certain midwestern conference with eleven members. Other than the A10, only the MAC and the Sun Belt are mid-majors with multiple starters in the playoffs this year.
  • Devean George (Augsburg College), Ben Wallace (Virginia Union) and Jamario Moon (Meridian (MS) Community College) represent the three non-D1 players who contribute for playoff teams.

Well, that’s all that jumped out at us in reviewing the key contributor and starter lists. If you see something else we missed, just put it in the comments. And if there’s a calculation you’d like to see, let us know and we can try to figure that out as well.

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BCS Conference H2H (thru 12.25.07)

Posted by rtmsf on December 26th, 2007

We’d originally hoped to track this better than we have throughout the pre-conference slate, but sometimes life gets in the way. A little over a month ago, we noted that the ACC and Pac-10 were leading the early charge with several marquee wins over the other BCS conferences. How has that changed in the interim?

BCS h2h 12.25.07

 

Data Source: www.basketballstate.com

Thoughts:

  • The Pac-10 and ACC continue to lead the way, showing 1-2 in overall winning pct., with the ACC earning a commanding record against other BCS conferences (28-14), while every other league has struggled to reach .500. Most impressively, the ACC has a winning record against every other league but the Pac-10 so far this season (1-1). The Pac-10 has only lost eight games against mid- and low-major teams thus far. This comports with the RPI and Sagarin computer rankings, which has these two leagues in the top three in both measurements.
  • Overall, the SEC has proven to be a joke thus far. Sure, the league can beat the low-majors (it certainly plays enough of them), but a 13-20 record against the other BCS conferences shows that this league just isn’t very good this year. It currently holds only one winning record against a BCS opponent – 5-4 versus the Big East.
  • The other three leagues – Big 10, Big 12, Big East – all have shown to be various grades of average. The Big 12 has the advantage over the other two at this point, with its 21-20 record against the other leagues, but it tends to lose more often to mid-majors than the others.
  • Quick rankings based on solely this measure: 1) ACC (h2h record is impressive); 2) Pac-10 (only loses to BCS teams); 3) Big 12 (generally good across the board); 4) Big East (more teams = more bad teams to bring it down); 5) Big 10 (sigh… 3-10 v. the ACC, again); 6) SEC (may not be better than the MVC or A10 this year).

Marquee Win to date

  • ACC – Duke 77, Marquette 73.
  • Big East – Pittsburgh 65, Duke 64.
  • Big 10 – Michigan St. 78, Texas 72.
  • Big 12 – Texas 63, UCLA 61.
  • Pac-10 – UCLA 68, Michigan St. 63.
  • SEC – Ole Miss 85, Clemson 82.

Ugliest Loss to date

  • ACC – American 67, Maryland 59.
  • Big East – Dayton 70, Louisville 65.
  • Big 10 – Wofford 69, Purdue 66.
  • Big 12 – Stephen F. Austin 66, Oklahoma 62.
  • Pac-10 – Mercer 96, USC 81.
  • SEC – Gardner-Webb 84, Kentucky 68
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BCS Conference H2H (thru 11.18.07)

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

Today marks two weeks from the start of the season, so we thought it would be an appropriate time to take a look at how the BCS conferences have done thus far against each other as well as the mids and lows. There’s not a lot of data available yet, but already we’re starting to see a little separation amongst the top conferences. It’ll be interesting to track this throughout the preconference schedule to see if it holds up. With the Maui, NIT and various conference challenges kicking off soon, this could change in a hurry.

BCS Conference H2H 11.08.07

 

Data Source: www.basketballstate.com

Thoughts:

  • So far, and we realize this is super early, the ACC and Pac-10 have led the way, going 10-2 (ACC) and 9-2 (Pac-10) against BCS and mid-major opponents. The other four are roughly .500 (Big East – 9-7; Big 10 – 3-3; Big 12 – 5-4; SEC – 4-4).
  • The Big 10 has the best early record at 20-3 (.870), but is only 1-3 against other BCS schools.
  • The SEC needs to protect home court better – two of its three losses against other BCS opponents (and three of the overall five) were at home.

Marquee Wins (best overall win in bold) –

  • ACC – Virginia 75, Arizona 72; Clemson 84, Mississippi St. 82 (both on the road)
  • Big East – Providence 67, Arkansas 51
  • Big 10 -none
  • Big 12 – none
  • Pac-10 – none
  • SEC – Arkansas 70, VCU 60

Ugly Losses (worst overall loss in bold) –

  • ACC – UNC-Greensboro 83, Ga Tech 74; Cleveland St. 69, Florida St. 66
  • Big East – Buffalo 76, S. Florida 69; Bowling Green 69, Cincinnati 67
  • Big 10 – Georgetown 74, Michigan 52 (the margin, not the result)
  • Big 12 – Sam Houston St. 56, Texas Tech 54; N. Texas 82, Oklahoma St. 73
  • Pac-10 – Mercer 96, USC 81; Siena 79, Stanford 67
  • SEC – Gardner-Webb 84, Kentucky 68; Tulane 77, Auburn 62
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