Sunday, March 12, 2006

is the mo-valley really the lo-valley

I definitely agree with this opinion... the Missouri Valley is over-rated! Count me as one who will be majorly pissed off (pun intended) if the Mo-Valley gets 5 bids.

Selective MVC Analysis
Published by Jason Kent March 11th, 2006

I’m not going to write off the College Basketball Ratings Percentage Index, but it needs to be deemphasized as an evaluating tool for NCAA Tournament berths. Qualitative analysis over quantitive. From my view point, this conference is overrated.

The objective for the selection committee is to select the best 34 remaining teams after automatic bids have been handed out. Right now as many as 6 Missouri Valley Conference teams are being discussed due to their inclusion in the RPI top 40 as of today. That’s more teams than the ACC, Big 12, SEC, Pac 10 and as many teams as the Big Ten. Only the Big East with 7 in the top 40 have more. Credit the MVC athletic directors for figuring out the finer details of the formula and taking advantage of it. I’m not trying to bash the conference, it’s the best of the mid-majors, but the possibility of the MVC drawing more teams than the ACC is a joke. The best 34 teams is what we are taking about here, and the RPI should only be a small part of the formula. Qualitative takes precedence.

Current RPI rankings of MVC and notable teams close by:
Missouri State - 19
Wisconsin - 20
Northern Iowa - 23
Wichita State - 24
Southern Illinois - 27
Boston College - 30
West Virginia - 34
Bradley - 35
Creighton - 40
Cincinnati - 41
Michigan - 46

Southern Illinois doesn’t need to be discussed as they secured a berth with a conference tournament victory against Bradley, in what was one of the ugliest games I’ve watched all season. The Salukis have a proven track record in the tournament so I’ll leave them alone. Tough team that could hang with the middle of the Big 10 pack.

Another worthy team is regular season champion, Wichita State. The Shockers actually went out and played some top teams in the non-conference schedule. Michigan State and Illinois can attest they’re a very solid ball club. Quantitative numbers are in their favor as well, but it’s the qualitative analysis of how they’ve performaned that makes them a tournament team.

Now to bubbleville, with Northern Iowa. Bracket Expert Joe Lunardi says they’re easily in as a 10 seed. Credit UNI for having the most quality wins of any of their peers. Victories over Iowa at home and LSU should be rewarded, and for that I wouldn’t be too upset with the Panthers getting a dance ticket. However, on the other end they finished 5th in conference play, and lost 5 of their last 7. Stack them up against other bubble teams and I’d struggle to place them above Michigan, Seton Hall, Texas A&M, and Florida State. Put the Panthers in the ACC and tell me how they’d finish? I’d have them amongst Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

Missouri State, considered the very best according to the RPI has already received more air time than they deserve. The Bears most impressive non-conference win comes against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Midly impressive. Only one major conference opponent graced their schedule, and they fell to an average Arkansas team. MVC apologists don’t give me the “you’ve never seen them play”. The beauty of DirectTV have provided more MVC telecasts than I could handle. Are the Bears a good team, sure, but are they more deserving than Michigan, Seton Hall, and Florida Sate? Quality wins from those three include: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, NC State, West Virginia, and Duke. Anyone one of those is more impressive than the entire Missouri State resume in my opinion. Convince me they would have ever even made it to Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament?

On to two teams who don’t even deserve mention, Bradley and Creighton. For starters they finished 6th and 4th respectively during the MVC regular season. The Braves don’t have a notable non-conference win and didn’t play ANYBODY. It’s a lot easier to get to 20 wins that way. The Bluejays have a slightly more polished resume with victories over George Mason and Nebraska, however they struggled down the stretch (injuries didn’t help) and the overall product just doesn’t compare to other bubble hopefuls.

The RPI has created the illusion these teams are just as good as the tournament teams in the ACC, Big Ten and Big East. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further where each of these would finish in the aforementioned conference. As I said before, credit the AD’s for understanding the system and working it to their favor … but qualitative analyis proves overwhelmingly the Missouri Valley is vastly overrated.


Brett said...

First, let me say, congrats on the big 1st round win. As one who lived in Texas for almost six years, I hate Texas and love it when A&M saws Varsity's horns off. I'm sorry to see the Aggies fall so far behind Texas in football.

Anyway, your post is a perfect example of why the selection committee does value the RPI over armchair experts like you and I.

Need I break it down for you? As a Saluki fan, thanks for the props. 2002 was a very special year (Sweet Sixteen). This year, however, I wasn't surprised at all at their blowout at the hands of WV. All season long we never knew which Saluki club would show up. They are young, inexperienced and don't have an offensive "go to" guy. Their defense is the only reason they even made it to the Tourney. To top it off, they faced a rested, mature, seasoned Elite Eight team (from last year) that certainly has Final Four potential.

You were also correct in Wichita State being worthy, which they proved with authority by blowing out Seton Hall.

Northern Iowa led at half against Georgetown and made it a close game to the very end, unable to pull it out, proving why they had the horses to beat Iowa (which looks less impressive than ever after yesterday!) and LSU (a VERY impressive win). I think they proved the committee correct.

Missouri State. Now here's where it gets fun. You said that their only "mildly impressive" win was against UM-W. Tell your Big 12 brethren Oklahoma that. how did your Aggies do against the Okies this year? 0-2, I believe. I know this is hillbilly math, but Missouri State beat Wisc.-Milwaukee who beat Oklahoma who beat A&M...twice. Missouri State is now a trivia question: What team is the highest RPI to not get an invitation to the Dance? Answer: Missouri State in 2006 with a #21 RPI.

Creighton. All I've got to say on this one is just compare your Aggies tournament resume with them and then start throwing stones. By the way, they were on the bubble without their best player.

Finally, may I gloat a little on this last one? Bradley. One that you said doesn't "even deserve mention". The Big 12 conference tourney winner KANSAS (by whom the Aggies lost at home by 10), couldn't hang with Bradley. So the Jayhawks get to go home empty-handed for the second year in a row, embarrassed by a supposed "mid-major." Self is starting to develop a rep for being a great recruiter but I guy who can't manage his talent.

When it's all said and done, I'm sure that Texas will probably be the team that goes the deepest with the Big 12 banner. And I'm pretty sure that banner will go further than the MVC's.

What all you BCS fans don't understand is while you guys truly have the talent to compete for the national title, and the MVC doesn't, that doesn't negate the fact that the MVC's top half are all very good basketball teams. None of them are great. None of them are Final Four material. But they did show themselves worthy of 5 bids.

zac said...

It’s easy to make your argument after games have been played. We'll have to agree to disagree, as I still believe 4 teams was a stretch from the Mo-Valley. Bradley got a lucky win over perennial tourney choker Kansas who was ousted by Bucknell as 2 seed last year so I'm not near as impressed with the Braves as you are. Creighton didn't play a ranked team all year and went one and out in their conf. tourney so I don’t see how you can think that's any stronger than the Aggies schedule who closed the season winning 8 of their last 9.

The Aggies were 4 seconds away from reaching the sweet 16, I think they've definitely proved worthy of their at-large bid.