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NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee adjusts quality win emphasis for true road games

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Math takes over March.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Selection Sunday is a long awaited day for NCAA basketball fans. Whether your team is seeded where you want them or left on the outside looking in, it takes a lot data to make those decisions. Nope, it’s not just a bunch of old guys sitting in a room saying which teams they like better (for the most part), there is real data.

The committee sits with organized team sheets to help determine who is in and who is out. In the past, the team sheets were organized strictly by ranking. There were columns for results against top 50 teams (by RPI), 51-100, 101 to 200 and then anyone lower than that (think Boston College for SU last year).

An NCAA announcement says that’s all about to change.

For the 2017-2018 season, the committee will put emphasis on where games were played. The new team sheets will still have four columns, still using RPI rankings:

1. Home Games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral-site games against top 50 teams, and road games against top 75 teams.

2. Home games versus teams ranked 31-75, neutral-site games facing teams ranked 51-100 and road games against teams ranked 76-135.

3. Home games against teams ranked 76-160, neutral court games played with teams ranked 101-200 and away games facing opponents ranked 136-240

4. All other games: Home games against opponents ranked lower than 161, neutral-site contests with opponents ranking lower than 201, and road games versus teams ranked lower than 241.

While that all seems pretty complicated, it just organizes wins and losses by home, away and neutral sites while including team rankings as well.

So all of the games in column one are more important than those in column two and so on.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Syracuse vs Miami Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What does that accomplish? The current chair of the committee Mike Hollis put it perfectly:

“Beating elite competition, regardless of the game location, will still be rewarded, but the committee wanted the team sheets to reflect that a road game against a team ranked 60th is mathematically more difficult and of higher quality than a home game versus a team ranked 35th.”

See? There is some math involved. So basically if the Syracuse Orange win at Cameron it will be a whole lot more meaningful than beating Duke at the Dome, if you assume their rankings are the same

This change will have an impact year to year based on where teams play. The neutral site variation will also impact rankings based on preseason tournaments.

The NCAA is also conducting research this year to consider moving from RPI to a composite ranking that combines the many metrics that exist. So a lot more thought is going in to where teams fall in March.

Kudos to you, mathematics. And kudos to the NCAA for accepting it.

So how’s this going to affect Syracuse? And preseason tournaments? A lot of changes in store for schedule construction, in all likelihood (like gaming the RPI with road trips to bad local teams, perhaps?).