Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why in the hell am I doing this?

Great question; I don't know. What started as me trying to get a reasonably objective handle on how competent the coach is at the school I follow turned into a multi-colored spreadsheet with Excel functions & database arrays(neither of which I knew how to do 3 days ago) that I'm pretty sure didn't actually help me validate what I already knew beforehand. But hey, I ended up with a rankings system that seems reasonably accurate for someone that has no background in statistics. Oh, and I got to charge a client 8 hours worth of my time in the process, so there's that.

Let me repeat an earlier point: I'm not a statistician. I never took a statistics course in college - I was an economics major for awhile, but that was over a decade ago so let's not pretend I remember a damn thing - and I don't claim this is any sort of innovation in qualitative(or is it quantitative? It's probably neither, come to think of it) analysis. If you have a better method, bully for you. The method for calculating the ranks was inspired in part by a local radio show host who does an annual NFL franchise ranking (which is worth a read when you have some time) & adapted to better suit the NCAA Tournament.

Here's the general premise:

1) The NIT is great for bad programs that are looking for signs of progress or good programs that need a consolation prize for a disappointing season, but let's be honest: nobody at a school the level of the top 25 in this list cares about anything other than NCAA appearances. So I didn't give points for NIT/CBI/etc. appearances.

2) NCAA coaches & programs at the upper tiers are generally judged(fairly or not) on how many Final Fours & National Championships they achieve. Hell, even in 'Survivor' they make a big deal about making it to the Final Four(It's probably cross-promotion, now that I think about it. I bet Jeff Probst gets another million every time Russell screams 'FINAL FOUR, BAYBEE').  Reaching either/both of those markers got a bonus.

C) The data goes from 1985 - 2010, the time in which the tournament has been a 64-team bracket(seriously, I'm not giving halfsies for winning a play-in game to get throttled by a #1 seed. Sorry, but if you're in that game, you're not making this list anyway.)

C) 2011 isn't counted because the tournament isn't over yet.

4) I only looked at programs that made it to at least one Final Four in that time-frame. I could have delved deeper, but when you see the list you'll notice that there's pretty much no way a team could crack the top 25 without making a run to the final weekend at least once(#25 on the list made it twice). If you can come up with a team I missed, by all means post it in the comments & I'll amend the list.

6) The point system goes like this:
1 point for making the NCAAs
2 points for winning the 1st round
3 points for winning the 2nd round
4 points for winning the 3rd round
6 points for making the Final Four
7 points for making the NC
9 points for winning the NC

F) If you're thinking to yourself "how is he going to account for the 68 team bracket in 2011", good question. I have no idea. I've got a few weeks to sort that out....which I probably won't. If you have suggestions, feel free to post it in the comments. Use small words, I'm not as smart as I'd like to think I am.

Enjoy the list for what it's worth, a non-scientific, vaguely statistical, possibly pagan, & probably wrong look at what programs have been successful in the post-season. The first part of the list will be up tomorrow.

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  1. Great list. Wait, where's the list?

  2. The first part of the list will be up tomorrow.

  3. Damn it. Who has time to wait that long?