(insert general acknowledgement to whichever pundit(s) coined that pun here)
There’s some interesting arguments discussed in Will’s weekend post-mortem. Here’s a few worthy of responses:
Media bias certainly CAN affect the power rankings by overvaluing intra-conference play… If West Virginia (for example… not picking on WVA) is overrated, then the boost a team gets in the power ranking is magnified when they beat them, and the loss to them is not as damaging to the power ranking. — RTP
RTP was responding to my assertion that sagarin, kenpom.com, and the RPI justified the Big East’s bids. Certainly, media-driven power rankings like the polls or ESPN’s “Power 16″ have their effect on the selection process, but the ratings systems like sagarin, kenpom, and the RPI (as awful as that is) are media-agnostic. The teams could be blindly named A, B, C, etc, and the ratings systems would spit out the same rankings. What matters is (a) who you play, (b) where you play, (c) when you play, (d) if you win, and (e) how much you win by. There’s subjectivity in how or if all these parameters are used, but there’s no “Big East fudge factor” or any fudge factor in favor of certain teams.
The Big East is no better than any other conference at gaming the ratings systems. The only way to “game” them is to win–it’s not gaming at all. It’s a simple fact: on balance, the Big East achieved better results out of conference than the rest of the country, and that distinction bears out in the agnostic ratings systems. I could care less what the polls say and have long ignored them. So yes, I see justification for 11 bids in the ratings systems. The Big East’s 11th ranked teams in sagarin (St Johns, 34th) and kenpom (Georgetown, 43rd after the tournament loss, mid-30s before) were well within the at-large range.
The Big East has good teams, very good coaches, and rabid fans but not a lot of great players, NBA type players. When you play teams w/ better athletes and better players, you get shown the door.
Does anybody believe that Arizona would still be dancing if Derrick Williams was just a solid 1st team All Pac 10 PF and not a NBA lottery pick? UK, Arizona, Ohio St., KU, UNC, SDSU, BYU, FSU, Richmond, Duke, Wisconsin, and Florida all have pro prospects that project higher than anyone in the Big East except Kemba Walker. Lo and behold, UConn is still dancing. Villanova and Mouphtaou Yarou may be the one anomaly.
VCU and Butler, also anomalies in my argument, have more heart and desire than most of the field and that worked for them. But I doubt either gets out of the Sweet 16. — Don Stone
Here’s a less tactful response: perhaps all these NBA prospects from other conferences (and I acknowledge that there is better individual talents in general this year from other conferences) are very NBA ready: they don’t try very hard unless it REALLY counts. The Big East’s top half beat those teams and players more often than not during the season.
The better response: it’s reasonable to say that these teams with more NBA-ready talent are probably younger and probably improved more during the season. By tournament time, they’ve caught up to older teams that achieved so well all season. UConn is again the exception for the Big East: they are the youngest team still alive (3 Fr, 1 So, 1 Jr starting). The other candidates for that distinction are Kentucky (3 Fr, 2 Jr) and UNC (2 Fr, 2 So, 1 Jr).
Don’t forget that pundits generally described the Big East as upper-middle heavy throughout the season: tons of very good teams bound for middling at-large seedings, but maybe one title contender in Pitt. There was media acknowledgement that the Big East lacked top-shelf talent. Despite that, they overachieved out of conference all year; doing so cast the Big East as better than they were in general. Middling teams got higher seeds than their talent should have justified, and the Big East’s mediocre teams (Marquette, Villanova, Cincy, Georgetown, St Johns) got into the tournament instead of other power conferences’ mediocre teams.
The “problem” for other power conferences was an inability to go out and beat the Big East enough during the season. If Duke had beaten (or even come close to) St Johns, perhaps the trickle-down effect gets Virginia Tech a bid. If Texas had beaten UConn or Pitt, perhaps Colorado gets in. If Kentucky had beaten UConn, perhaps Alabama gets in.
Losing in the NCAA tournament tarnished some great seasons for the Big East, but it doesn’t erase the whole season.
…your conference tournament is just all wrong. It’s a 16 team league. No need for any byes. Why reward anyone for league play when it is unneccessary! The reward is in the seeding for regular season. That’s plain and simple, but the Big East has that wrong as well. — GurualaKing
Here’s the steps to explaining the Big East Tournament:
- With 16 teams and no byes, there’d be eight first-round games. That necessitates playing over two nights, which gives half of the teams the advantage of a day’s rest, or splitting the round into two concurrent sets of four games at two sites, which moves 1/4 of the games away from MSG. Neither option is acceptable. The Big East tournament’s purpose is to showcase each team two at a time in MSG.
- The next option is to cut the number of tournament teams to 12 and have four byes like most major conferences. That denies four teams a chance to play their way in. That’s not acceptable.
- Next, how about starting with the 12-team tournament with four byes, but add the other four teams in: have the bottom eight teams play for the final four spots in the tournament. Ding! Ding! Ding! That’s exactly what the format is.
You can view the Big East tournament as a 12-team, 4-bye tournament formatted like everyone else’s tournaments, except there’s four play-in games to earn the final four tourney spots.