She Blinded Me with Science

Here is something I really don’t understand. I want someone to explain it to me.

I know I’m jovial and even occasionally funny on this blog, and I enjoy keeping things light and sloppy. It’s called entertaining while informing.

But I’m dead serious this time.

I’m checking out the numbers for various teams that are near, or sitting squarely on, the bubble. I came across this rather impressive number:

Missouri State: nonconference SOS–45. Nonconference record: 8-1.

Impressive, right? Well, I had to then look at the resume filled with “Big __” conference teams. Here’s what I saw:

(133) Northern Illinois
(214) Arkansas St.
(146) Georgia Southern
(205) Texas A&M Corpus Christi
(129) Oral Roberts
(170) Detroit
(46) Arkansas (the lone loss)
(214) Arkansas St.
(53) Wisconsin Milwaukee

And it hit me. Like a brick.

This SOS of 45 featured ONE team in the RPI top 50 and only TWO RPI top 100. Heck, they liked Arkansas State so much they scheduled them twice. It’s impossible to me that a schedule with two of nine games featuring teams in the top 125 of the RPI can be a top 50 nonconference schedule. It defies logic.

I smell a fraud, and it’s not necessarily the Missouri State Bears. It’s the importance of strength of schedule. Or rather, the importance of a number that goes unchecked. “45” looks awfully good until you see what comprises it.

The problem that exacerbates the issue is the Big Sixers scheduling a pile of 200-plusses. Here’s what I want you to do:

Head over to Ken Pomeroy’s Site, Right Now and sort on the nonconference SOS. Take a look at who is among the top 10 nonconference schedules. Now scroll down towards the bottom, and stop whenever you wish. I chose #175. Now count how many top 75 RPI teams are below the 175 mark in terms of nonconference SOS. Don’t worry, I did it for you: 19.

(Today’s Side Note: keep looking at this list for a roster of who’s buying games and who’s getting bought…)

I think I may have just answered my own question, but still feel a bit in the dark about relying on all these numbers. And maybe that’s what Gregg Doyel was getting at that I believe in more and more with each passing day–I know a tournament quality team when I see it. I don’t need reams of data to tell me, though it can be helpful.

Where have you gone, Woody Hayes? The former Ohio State football coach uttered one of the greatest quotes of all time. When asked about losing a game in which the Buckeyes had statistically dominated rushing yards, total yards, first downs, and time of possession, Hayes responded: “Statistics remind me of the man who drowned in the river with the average depth of three feet.”

Here’s to Craig Littlepaige understanding the sentiment.


~ by mglitos on March 1, 2006.

3 Responses to “She Blinded Me with Science”

  1. I’m glad you made that point because I noticed the same thing w/ SMS’ schedule. Lets just hope the top 34 teams are picked.

  2. Good research, but I see why their SOS is good. That #214 Arkansas State team is the lowest RPI they played. It’s those 300+ RPI teams that hurt the SOS.

    Hofstra, our “high RPI, low SOS” team, has four bad wins: FL Int’l (RPI:265), St Francis (267), Stony Brook (307), and Dartmouth (311). These four more than offset the good wins over LaSalle (92) and St. John’s (123) and drag the Pride’s non-conference SOS down to #273.

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