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NCAA tweaks tournament selection criteria

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Let’s talk quadrants!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Greenville Practice Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been a great 10 days for FSU basketball. On the morning of January 7th the Noles were sitting at 12-2 and dreaming of a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Then FSU lost on the road to a top 15 rival, blew a 17 point lead while snapping their 28 game home winning streak and suffered a cruel schedule loss to fall to 13-5. Oh yeah, there was also a thrilling double OT win sandwiched in there.

Many are now fretting over FSU not making the Tournament. While there are no guarantees - there is still work for the Seminoles to do to get a bid - there is good reason to step away from the ledge.

The NCAA has instituted a “tweak” which will change how teams are evaluated for a Tournament spot. The change is discussed more fully in this article. Check it out and then come back.

As you read, there will now be four quadrants that the committee will use to help them evaluate the quality of a team’s wins and losses.

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240

Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.

This article will discuss some implications for this new change both in general and in terms specific to Florida State.

Right now FSU is 13-5 (2-4 ACC) 45th RPI. The record by quadrant is: Q1 (2-4); Q2 (1-1); Q3 (3-0); Q4 (7-0).

There are several implications from the new system. As the article states, there is more emphasis on where the game was played. This will help mid-majors because it will give them more opportunities to get quadrant one and two wins. With this system more of their conference opponents will qualify if played on the road. This is probably a negative for FSU because helping mid-majors is not good for a power conference bubble team.

However, on balance this change will likely benefit the Noles - especially this season. TN’s own Matt Minnick discussed the current schedule in this article. Matt’s analysis still holds up. One big weakness of FSU’s scheduling has been a propensity to play too many poor teams (sub-250 RPI) at home. This serves as a large anchor on FSU’s RPI ranking. This year FSU plays five such games and four of them are at home. In fact, all of those home games are against sub-300 RPI teams. This will still serve as a drag on the RPI ranking but it won’t hurt so much under the quadrant system because now more home games will be considered Q4 and thus basically ignored - as long as these games are won. To be clear these games are still a bad idea because RPI still appears on the team sheet but the games won’t hurt quite as much under the new system.

The change benefits FSU in another way. It creates more opportunities for good wins - although they won’t be easy to get. Let’s examine the rest of the schedule.

Virginia Tech (A); 79 RPI; Q2

Georgia Tech (H); 137 RPI; Q3

Miami (H); 25 RPI; Q1

Wake Forest (A); 124 RPI; Q2

Louisville (A); 17 RPI; Q1

Virginia (H); 3 RPI; Q1

Notre Dame (A); 57 RPI; Q1

Clemson (H); 9 RPI; Q1

Pitt (H); 162 RPI; Q4

NC State (A); 75 RPI; Q1

Clemson (A); 9 RPI; Q1

Boston College (H); 64 RPI; Q2

This gives Florida State the opportunity to get seven more Q1 wins and three more Q2 wins. There are only two chances for bad losses.

Keeping in mind that the Noles currently have no bad losses, FSU is almost a lock for the Tourney if - including the ACC Tournament - they can get to six Q1 wins. If they can get to five - assuming no bad losses - they would stand a good chance. This schedule affords plenty of chances to get the three or four Q1 wins that are probably necessary for selection.

There are three ways to miss the NCAA Tournament. In no particular order:

  1. Too many losses - of any kind
  2. Too many bad losses
  3. Not enough good wins

There is not a specific number that is used by the committee to determine how many losses is too many for selection. However, in the last three years the most losses any at-large team had was 15 (Vanderbilt, last year). In general it’s really tough to get in with more than 13 losses. Therefore let’s assume that 13 or less will be enough to satisfy the first criteria.

It’s a big deal that FSU doesn’t have any bad losses. That probably gives them some leeway to have one or two fewer impressive wins. However, losing to either Pitt or Georgia Tech could really hurt.

The good wins category is where this new system has the most effect. As discussed above the Seminoles will have plenty of opportunities to get good wins.

If the Noles can beat Pitt and GT, split the Q2 games and win three of the seven Q1 games they will be at 19-10 going into the ACC Tournament with five Q1 wins. That would very likely put them on the right side of the bubble as long as they didn’t take a bad loss in the ACC Tournament - losing to Georgia Tech, Wake Forest or Pitt would qualify. I am bullish on FSU’s chances because I think this standard is achievable by this team.

Let me know what you think in the comments.