Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Selection Committee's Tendencies

Tomorrow is selection Sunday, the day bracketology ceases to matter. Personally, I have never really been into dissecting resumes for the bubble teams. Still, I decided to take a look at some of the committee's tendencies between 2006-2012. I think this information is probably more interesting than insightful, as the committee's decisions have a human element to them that are constantly changing.

First, I went to to determine the bubble teams from the past seven years. Bracket Matrix compiles the bracketology of all sites on the internet into one. I decided that if a team was picked in the field on more than 5% of all brackets but less than 95% of all brackets, then they were a bubble team. There were a few exceptions to the rule, but I think it was good enough. 72 teams fit this criteria over the seven years of data.

The first thing I wanted to do was look at the committee's reliance on RPI. I took the average RPI of bubble teams that received bids and the average RPI of bubble teams that did NOT receive bids for each year:

The graph shows that in recent years, the difference in the RPIs of the teams in and out have been very significant. This is a tricky graph to interpret and I don't necessarily think the committee has become more reliant on RPI (as the graph seems to indicate). In 2006 and 2007, teams from conferences like the Missouri Valley had figured out the RPI formula. They were scheduling games to maximize their RPI and naturally not all of them could get in. Still, the graph is a bit concerning for proponents of a reality based selection process.

Next I wanted to look at the biggest surprises according to bracketologists. Basically, which teams have bracketologist been the most wrong on throughout the year?

2006 appears to be the worst year in bracketology history. Only one of 23 people had Air Force and Utah State in the field and yet both got in. In recent years many sites are now doing bracketology, and I believe there has been an increase in both quantity and quality. I wasn't surprised to see a Seth Greenberg Virginia Tech team in the biggest snubs. 87 of 89 bracketologists had the Hokies in the tournament in 2011 despite an RPI of 62.

Next, let's look at the biggest surprises based on RPI:

Notice the conference RPIs for these teams. The snubs were almost all in weaker conferences than the most surprising bids. USC was the worst team according to RPI to get a bid in 2011. All of the RPI snubs are from 2006-2008. This makes sense based on the results of the first graph.

I can't wait for the bubble discussion to end and the actual NCAA tournament analysis to begin. However, I haven't seen much research done on the recent history of the selection committee and thought this could shed some light on that.

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