Some matchups always end up the same in the Big East

…in terms of teams that aren’t bottom feeders when they play each other. I had a strong feeling that Notre Dame was going to win tonight, and felt that this prophecy is the same every year. You might as well throw out the results of these matchups.

Syracuse

-always loses to Pitt, Louisville, Villanova
-always beats Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, West Virginia

Pittsburgh
-always loses to Notre Dame, Marquette
-always beats Syracuse, Georgetown, Cincinnati

Villanova
-always loses to West Virginia, Georgetown
-always beats Syracuse

UConn
-always loses to Georgetown, Providence, Notre Dame
-always beats West Virginia

Louisville
-always loses to Georgetown
-always beats Syracuse, West Virginia

Georgetown
-always loses to West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
-always beats UConn, Villanova

West Virginia

-always loses to Syracuse, UConn, Louisville
-always beats Georgetown, Villanova

So don’t be surprised if you see several games follow the trends again this year. ESPN analysts apparently don’t notice this, so keep an eye out for yourself.

A Revolution in College Athletics

The current set-up in college sports that you and I grew up with is soon to be a thing of the past. We will look back upon them with fond memories and a little drool on our chins, saying, “Back in my day…” College athletics are set to undergo a radical transformation.

It will begin with the two biggest sports: football and basketball. For much of the now departed college basketball season, rumor swirled of the NCAA’s impending opt-out. In other words, they can void the current contract with CBS and put the men’s tournament on the open market for the highest bidder. But with the new TV deal will likely come an expansion of the tournament from its current 65 team format to a 96 one, eliminating the National Invitational Tournament in the process.
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The big money in college athletics is on the gridiron. The basketball change may leave some ripples across the land, but a major shake-up in football will affect all other collegiate sports. The rumor mill began last year when the Big Ten, the NCAA’s richest conference, publicly stated its desire to add at least one new member. In doing so, the Big Ten would have twelve members and would be able to play that all important conference championship game.

However, the Big Ten may be looking to add more than one team. Tony Barnhart, aka Mr. College Football, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in a recent blog post, “The Big Ten is looking at three plans: Stand pat with 11 teams, add one team (hopefully Notre Dame) or make a blockbuster move and go to 16.”

It seems unlikely at this point that the Big Ten would not expand. They’ve announced intentions to do so which would lead us all to believe they will follow through with those plans. Adding one team would give them the minimum number to have the coveted championship game. And every one loves to say Notre Dame is the obvious choice because they are. But the Irish have been reluctant to join in the past. This is what leads many, including me, to believe that a “superconference” is in the making.

A superconference of 16 teams forces Notre Dame to join. Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick even admitted so at a press conference for the Big East basketball tournament (of which Notre Dame is a member): “The college landscape is as unstable as I’ve seen it… You could each invent a scenario that would force our hand.” He went on to say that Notre Dame would like to maintain its football independence.

But the question is, can they? With the possible realignment of 16 teams in the Big Ten, Notre Dame would have to join out of necessity. For one, adding five teams most likely means at least one and probably more Big East teams would be absorbed. Frank the Tank, a blogger who writes about Chicago and University of Illinois sports as well as other topics, states that “Syracuse and Rutgers (along with the Irish) are virtual locks” for a 16 team Big Ten. Both universities bring the New York City market with them which is one market the Big Ten has yet to fully penetrate (especially with the Big Ten Network television channel).

And if the Big East is torn apart (again), that leaves the question of automatic bids to the NCAA tourney and a BCS bid in football. Notre Dame is basically given a BCS bid without conference affiliation as long as they finish in the top 12 of the standings. But it could still force their hand in other sports. And we cannot discount the possibility of a change in the BCS format if the rest of college athletics transforms. I do not specifically mean a playoff, but it is logical to think that a seismic shift in conferences could result in changes to the current format.

Frank the Tank goes on to look at possible Big Ten candidates sans the three locks mentioned earlier. One such scenario involves bringing in Maryland and Boston College to “capture the entire Northeast, while, at least on paper, adding New York, Boston, and Washington markets.” Another possibility is to get Nebraska and Kansas from the Big XII which adds a basketball and a football power for balance as well as adding new markets. Finally, Frank writes Texas and Texas A&M could come together as a political package (one couldn’t go without the other).
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While I am not willing to discuss every possibility, it seems logical one of these three moves is going to happen. But whatever the Big Ten does, it will force the other conferences to react. The SEC stands next to the Big Ten in terms of economic superiority. Do they expand as well? If the Big XII, ACC, or Big East is ransacked, what becomes of those conferences and their automatic bids? Does the Pac 10 answer?

It is clear that a revolution in college athletics is in the immediate future, possibly as early as the 2012 football season if the decisions are made soon. At this point, the Big Ten holds the key to everything. They could add only one team and the landscape would probably remain similar to how it is. Or they could make a tidal wave and transform college athletics to something we’ve never seen before. Eventually, the superconferences will come to fruition, so why not start now?

Conference Comparisons After Round 1

For college sports fans with teams who suck, it seems the default mechanism nowadays is to champion the strength of your conference to make yourself feel better about said suckage. We’ve all had conversations with Big East conference homers in basketball and SEC conference homers in football (I’m pretty sure I am one).

Every year the Big Dance acts as the rule that the conferences are measured against. Whoever dominates the tournament has bragging rights for the year.

So… How do the conferences stand up after round one? Have a look below:

  • Big East – 4 of 8 teams remain = 50%
  • Big 12 – 5 of 7 teams remain = 71%
  • ACC – 4 of 6 teams remain = 67%
  • Big 10 – 4 of 5 teams remain = 80%
  • SEC – 2 of 4 teams remain = 50%
  • Pac 10 – 2 of 2 teams remain =100%
  • Mid-Majors – 11 of 33 teams remain = 33%

Obviously of note in that comparison should be the relative success of the Big 12, ACC, and Big 10 versus the relative failure of the Big East and SEC. The fact that the Pac 10 won both of their games is commendable, considering how terrible that conference looked all year. Also noteworthy is the fact that 11 mid-major teams are still alive after the first weekend.

These numbers alone don’t tell you that much in the grand scheme of things. What’s really interesting is looking at how the conferences have performed in terms of seeding. To analyze this, I’ve listed the number of teams that have performed at or below their seeding for each conference.

  • Big East – 5 teams performed at or above their seed, while 3 teams played below their seeding. 0 teams performed above their seeding.
  • Big 12 – 5 teams performed at or above their seed, while 2 teams played below their seeding. 1 team performed above their seeding.
  • ACC - 5 teams performed at or above their seed, while 1 team played below their seeding. 1 team performed above their seeding.
  • Big 10 – All 5 teams performed at or above their seed. 0 teams performed above their seeding.
  • SEC – 4 teams performed at or above their seed, while 1 team played below their seeding. 0 teams performed above their seeding.
  • Pac 10 – 2 teams performed at or above their seed, while 0 teams played below their seeding. 1 team performed above their seeding.
  • Mid-Majors – 30 teams performed at or above their seed, while 3 teams played below their seeding. 6 teams performed above their seeding.

This is where it gets a little more interesting. With 3 teams playing below their seeding and 0 teams performing above their seeding, it’s safe to say that the Big East has under-achieved compared to the other conferences. The Big 12 had 2 teams perform below their seeding, but they also had one perform above their seeding.The other major conferences performed as you would probably expect.

Obviously, the big winner in all this is the Mid-Major fan. 30 of 33 teams played at or above their seeding, while only 3 performed below their seeding. In fact, the three teams that performed below their seeding actually lost to other mid-major teams. An impressive 6 teams performed above their seeding.

What have we learned from all this? Getting the most teams in doesn’t necessarily mean you have the best conference in terms of quality. Not this year at least…

EJSIC’s Big East Tournament Preview

It’s March everyone. Time for the most publicized conference tournament to take center stage again, on the biggest stage in the country. Welcome to Madison Square Garden, where last second shots can keep your tournament chances alive or not count at all. Where the magic of Six Overtimes happens. Where the city’s eyes take focus on some of the best teams in the country to restore New York’s fervent love for basketball. Let’s get it started.

This year, Syracuse won the league by a comfortable two games. They come in as the favorite and the #1 seed. But they, along with the other teams seeded in the top 4 (Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Villanova) will all have to sit for two days, blessed or cursed by the Big East’s double bye structure. First tip off begins on Tuesday at Noon, with the surprising South Florida Bulls facing the perennially depressing DePaul Blue Demons. Here’s the EJSIC’s preview of this week’s action in the most famous arena in the world.

Seeds:

1) Syracuse
2) Pittsburgh
3) West Virginia
4) Villanova
5) Marquette
6) Louisville
7) Notre Dame
8 ) Georgetown
9) South Florida
10) Seton Hall
11) Cincinnati
12) Connecticut
13) St. John’s
14) Rutgers
15) Providence
16) DePaul

Here’s how the bracket looks.

Now let’s predict the action!

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Analysis of RPI Fluctuation Between Conferences

Disclaimer: This article is going to mention elementary mathematics and will in no way be about tits.

It's time to dance.

So, in this 3 part analysis of the RPI between January 12th and March 8th (the start of conference play and the end of the regular season), I’ve so far pointed out that 60% of teams only move 25 places, either up or down, during conference play. Conversely, 40% of teams move more than 25 places up or down.

But what happens to teams generally in a conference? If you play in a really powerful conference, would you expect RPIs to generally improve as every team is playing a difficult strength of schedule? Or would you expect a conference with a lot of top tier teams to beat the other teams, sending their RPIs spiraling downward, while not being able to move much higher? I decided to look at the big 6 – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, and Pac10 – along with the A-10, who is probably as strong or stronger than some of those conferences this year. For the most part, I’ll look at the RPIs averaged per team to standardize across conferences. In other situations, I might analyze percentage of teams, again, to standardize across conferences with variable numbers of teams.

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