March Madness Part II

We left off talking about how St. Mary’s was unfairly left out to the convenience of Syracuse. The other last team in was Arizona State. Arizona State is an interesting case. At their height, Arizona State was two in the country and 12-0. They were hosting their in state rival, and big brother, Arizona. The game went down to the wire and ASU ultimately lost. A completely excusable loss by anyone’s standards, the question after the game was whether or not ASU could earn a one seed in the bracket later on. So why should they have not been in the tournament?

Since starting 12-0, ASU spiraled into total chaos finishing just 20-12, including losing five of their last six. Their conference was by far the weakest of the power six, and not even one of the best 7 conferences this year in terms of bids and seedings. The PAC-12 got 3 bids, two of them coming as last four in teams. The AAC, a non power, got three teams in and none were lower than a six seed. With this in mind, completely disregard the argument that ASU had a tough conference schedule. At least for Syracuse that is a valid point, because they did lose to good teams. ASU lost to very bad teams, and their RPI reflected it. Their RPI was 62 in the country, a whole 20 spots lower than St. Mary’s, or Middle Tennessee. But because of their conference, ASU got in on name alone. Sorry mid-majors.

The committee also shows incredible bias to let teams that have one star get in the tournament. Oklahoma was one of the last teams team in. Should they have been? They finished with only 18 wins and lost 9 of their last 10 to end the season. St. Mary’s had a full ten wins over Oklahoma and did not get in. Why? Simply because of one player, Trae Young. The committee knows that people are going to want to watch a big school like Oklahoma with a big name like Trae Young in the tournament. Trae Young is unequivocally the best freshman in the country and he goes to a school with a lot of alumni. Money talks and the committee after is the head of a business. More viewership means more money and the committee putting Oklahoma in over a small little school like St. Mary’s.

The second way that the committee disadvantages the mid major teams is through their unjust seeding. TCU got a six seed who they were ranked below Loyola Chicago. Loyola was ranked 27 and got an 11 seed. They played Miami who was ranked 22 and a 6 seed. In reality, Loyola was better than both of those teams but the committee is a lie. They say their job is to put together the best tournament possible with the best teams. To them, the best teams are the teams that have mediocre conference seasons in a power conference. A team from a non power conference must be perfect in their conference. Even that, however is not enough in most cases if they do not win their conference tournament.

The selection committee is all a lie. At the end of the day, the committee is going to pick the teams that have big names and big followings regardless of whether or not they are truly better. They can state all they want that they are going to pick the best teams, but even their criteria used is biased. The stat, RPI, rewards teams for losing to good teams more than it does for bad teams. A team in a power conference gets ranked higher for losing to bad teams than a mid major does when it beats a bad team. Should a mid major have a bad day and lose to a bad team, however, their whole season gets blown up and the committee regards them as completely inferior. The only true way for a mid major to guarantee that they make the tournament is to win their own conference tournament. The mid majors, however, cannot avoid the poor seeding they will receive once they do make the tournament.

Why? Because the selection process is a lie.

March Madness Part I

Gordon Hayward takes one last shot to try and win for the underdog Bulldogs from Butler, out of the mid major Horizon League

Ah its that time of the year again. One of the best times of the year, March Madness! Every year, division one basketball decides their national champion with a month long tournament that contains 68 teams. Win and advance, lose and go home. The teams are seed 1-16 in four regions, and no one is safe. Cinderella teams provide excitement with incredible upsets as the tournament progresses. To most, march madness is a fun tournament with people filling out their brackets trying to get a perfect bracket. But how is the bracket decided? Who decides what 68 teams make the tournament? Every year the field is marred with controversy between the teams invited and how those teams are seeded. Part I will focus on how the committee decides which teams are invited.

To start, there are 32 conferences in D1 basketball. Every conference has a tournament at the end of the season with the winning team receiving an automatic bid. These teams have unequivocally earned their way in to the tournament. The other 36 teams invited to the big dance are considered at-large bids. Much like the College Football Playoff committee and their selection process, there is a committee designated to select the at-large worthy teams. Similar to the CFP, teams and their respective resumes are pitted against one another to determine who should receive a bid. At the top of the 36 there are obviously teams that are no brainers and deserve to make the tournament. These teams come from conference that have many good teams where winning a conference title is very hard. The final four teams, known as the last four in, are where the most discussion and lies are told.

A dreaded term for all tournament hopeful teams is, “the bubble”. Being on the bubble means that a team is in one of four spots. Last four byes, last four byes, first four out, and the next four out are the teams that are on the bubble. Several metrics are used by the committee to determine if a team can make the cut. Strength of schedule, RPI, head to head, overall record, and record against common opponents are the first criteria used to determine what teams should be in. This year, a new criteria was introduced and heavily influenced which teams made the tournament. Every team is placed in a quadrant with the first quadrant being the best teams. Bubble teams are most heavily judged on the amount of quadrant one wins a team has. A quadrant one win is as follows: A team with an RPI of 25 or lower is a quadrant one win if the game is won at home, a team with an RPI of 50 or lower is a quad one win if the game is on a neutral site, and a team with an RPI of 75 or lower is a quad one win if the game is on the road. That is the criteria that is used to decide who makes the tournament. But is this a fair indicator? It is a lie.

In this year’s field,there is a startling and blatant disregard for what should be considered. Per the committee, the last team into the tournament field was Syracuse with a record of 20-13. Among the teams left out, the most egregious and blatant bias was shown with the snub of St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s finished 28-5. 28-5. Let that sink in. Only 5 times were they beaten, and their best win comes against the team ranked 8 in the country, Gonzaga. Yes, Syracuse played an overall tougher schedule, but they did not beat those teams. So why are they a better team? Because they can lose well? Their best win was against 19 in the country. Syracuse had a little bit higher of an RPI at 39 vs. 42, but St. Mary’s, is viewed as the much better team by apparently everyone in the country but the committee. Does that seem like too wide of a generalization to make? Tell that to the Associated Press who rank them as 25 in the country. The committee is so blinded by their bias for power conference teams as opposed to non power teams has caused them to leave a team, ranked the 25th best in the country, out of the tournament. If one were to just take every team and the top 25 and then seed them (four teams per seed), the 25th best team in the country would be seeded as a 7 seed. A 7 seed is not even on the bubble, and several ranked teams receive automatic bids so there is even more room for St. Mary’s to be in. Why are they not in then? Simply because the committee is a lie and does not want them in. A school like Syracuse, a brand name in basketball, with a coach like Jim Boeheim, and a conference like the ACC, are more appealing because they will bring more money. St. Bonaventure’s, non power 5 team who made it in as a last four, won last night over UCLA- college basketball royalty. Yet according to the committee, non power 5 teams cannot compete. Part two will elaborate further on the injustice faced by non power teams.

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The bracket is set. Who will come out on top?

College Football Playoff Part III

The final installment of the lies within the College Football Playoff committee focusses on the treatment of the non power five conference teams. Under the new rules set forth in determining the teams that get to play for the College Football Playoff, there is a special clause that is reserved for teams that do not play in either the Big Ten, SEC, PAC 12, Big XII, or ACC conferences. These teams are referred to the group of five teams with the aforementioned conferences having teams referred to as power five teams. Teams in power five conferences receive preferential treatment because their conferences top to bottom have better teams and more talent. Every single national champion since 1984 has been a team in a power five conference. The last team to win being BYU in 1984 out of the Mountain West conference. Now yes, there were teams such as Penn State who won championships more recently as an independent team but that is not being considered because they now belong to a power five conference. But wait, you may ask about Notre Dame since they won a national championship in 1988 and are still an independent team. Why do I not count them as a non power five national champion? What special clause would be reserved for those who are not in power five conferences and does Notre Dame receive?

To answer that question, the bias of the committee is incredibly apparent in their view of what a non power five team is. Under the College Football Playoff (CFP), there are six top tier bowls known as the New Year’s Six bowls. The bowls are: the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Peach Bowl Two of the NY6 are the playoff semi finals, the other four are rewards for a well played season. The power five conferences though, have an advantage. Each of the power five teams has a bowl tie in that guarantees their champion a birth in a NY6 bowl. The other five conferences have a combined, zero bowl tie ins. Under the new rules, the committee graciously allocated one bid for all the teams in the other five conferences. They rule that the highest ranked team among all of those in the group of conferences gets to go to one of the big money bowl games. To make it harder yet for these teams, good old Notre Dame comes in. Everyone who has even a tiny bit of college football knowledge knows that Notre Dame is considered one of the great college football giants. And, because they consider themselves to be an independent team (although they signed a deal with the ACC stipulating that they must play at least six games against ACC teams) the rule explicitly states the highest ranked non power five, or Notre Dame team gets to play. Now is not that just fair?

To put it lightly, no it is not fair. Teams like UCF, who went 13-0, with more wins against ranked teams than Alabama, had no chance to play for a national championship because they are a non power five team. What did UCF do in their bowl game, the Peach Bowl against 7th ranked Auburn? (Auburn also finished third in their conference but because the SEC has a tie in to a bowl game and Alabama and Georgia were in the playoffs they got to go) UCF “upset” them to go 14-0. Who did Auburn beat again? Oh yeah, Georgia and Alabama. But the committee is right, because UCF is from a non power five conference they do not deserve the chance to play for a national title because they are an inferior team since their conference is weaker top to bottom than a power five conference.

Why do these bowls matter so much though? Some fans believe they are just glorified exhibition games. In the next blog, the topic of bowl game money will be discussed and the division between power five and group of five teams will be examined further.

The biggest lie the CFP committee tells, is that every year, every team has a chance to win a national championship. Congrats to the 2018 National Champion UCF Golden Knights.

The College Football Playoff Part II

Last week, the blog focussed on the injustice felt by the Ohio State football team when Alabama, on the reputation of their coach, Nick Saban, snuck their way into the College Football Playoff. As previously mentioned, I myself am no fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes, although victim this year, are usually one the teams that are shown preferential treatment. They are no innocent bystander. They too have a coach whose reputation caries the team.

The Ohio State Buckeyes made the 2016-17 College Football Playoff as the third ranked team. With the third ranking, one can assume that they should be in an devoid of any controversy. That assumption would be completely incorrect. Yes the Buckeyes finished 11-1, yes the Buckeyes had wins over 3 top ten teams, but they did not win their conference, nor did they even win their division. The distinction of Big Ten East, and Big Ten Champions belonged to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State finished 11-2 and 5 in the country, very similar to the Buckeyes in 2017-18. The biggest difference in the comparison of the injustice shown to the Buckeyes in 2017, and the Lions in 2016 would be under bullet point three of the stated selection criteria of the College Football Playoff Committee. The third bullet point bluntly states, “head to head competition”. This means that if the teams are in close contention with one another, the result of their on field game should be used as a tiebreaker. Who, you might ask, won this incredible matchup in late October? That would be the Nittany Lions 24-21. So now, you have a team with a strong strength of schedule, a head to head victory, and a conference championship won (the first three bullet points checked off) and yet they are deemed not only one, but two spots behind the team they beat in the conference they won. How is this possible? How could the Lions be this disrespected? If the criteria were to be followed, how can a result like this even be possible? That is simply because the whole system is a lie, with the committee choosing to favor the big, household name coaches over deserving teams. The Buckeyes would go on to lose their game 31-0. That is quite funny since the stated purpose of the committee is to make the best game matches possible. I do not know about you, but 31-0 does not exactly stand out as an entertaining game. And what of the team that finished 4th? So far, nothing has been said of them.

The team that finished fourth is the Washington Huskies. At first glance, the Huskies appear to check off the marks of a respectable team. They won their conference, and finished 21-1. Why then would they not be ahead of Ohio State? This is because the Huskies should not have been in the playoff at all. The Huskies played in what is considered the weakest of the power five conferences, thus giving them no real chance in conference to win any real big games except for one, the game against USC. USC though, started off the season with a 52-3 loss at the hands of Alabama so they were not at their usually perceived strength. Surely Washington must have easily handled USC at home. Nope, they got embarrassed and their vaunted offense was only able to put up 13 points, at home. No loss is a good loss as one loss can derail a college football season. As a result, some teams will schedule teams they can easily beat to pad their win totals. Washington took that idea to heart and scheduled non conference opponents that were so weak, their non conference strength of schedule was ranked 124 out of 128. They played Rutgers to a tough 48-13 game at home. Rutgers went 2-10 and 0-9 in the Big Ten. Surely the committee reviewed their criteria of results against common opponents and saw that Penn State won 38-0 right? Nah they do not care. Washington also played a FCS school. Are you starting to see a trend here? Why schedule a tough non con like PSU (whose was so tough it was ranked 5 in the country), or like Ohio State did this year, when you can schedule cupcakes like Bama and Washington and reap the rewards? Washington ended up losing their game in a close one to Bama 24-7. 17 points is close right? One last thought before you decide whether or not the CFP committee is fair, of the four teams that made the playoff in 2016-17, there were only three losses. Those losses were at the hands of USC, Pitt, and Penn State.

So, is it all a lie?

2016-17 National Champion Clemson Tigers.

The College Football Playoff Part 1

 

  1. “Principles. The committee will select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:
    • *  Conference championships won,
    • *  Strength of schedule,
    • *  Head-to-head competition,
    • *  Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and,
    • *  Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance duringthe season or likely will affect its postseason performance.”

(efootballplayoff.com/documents/2017/10/20//CFP_Selection_Committee_Protocol.pdf?id=23)

Listed above is the stated criteria of the College Football Selection committee, and it is all a lie. This year’s College Football Playoff included Clemson University, Oklahoma University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Alabama. The first three teams, yielded little, if any, surprise when the committee announced that these three teams were to be included in the final four. Each of the three teams had won their conference championship (check mark one), each team had a strong strength of schedule (check mark two) thanks to their status of a power five team, and all three teams also had a legitimate non conference win over a reputable opponent. (Clemson over Auburn, Oklahoma over Ohio State, and Georgia over Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Georgia’s wins both coming on the road which is another factor when evaluating strength of schedule) So far, everything seems to be in line. Where could the lie be? To find the lie, look no further than the fourth and final team to make the playoff, the University of Alabama. Did they win their conference? No, they did not even win their respective division. Did they have a tough strength of schedule? Not even slightly when comparing their schedule to that of other top teams.

Alabama only had on their schedule 11 division one FBS teams. One team Alabama scheduled is not even in their same league. This would be like an NFL team scheduling a college football team for an easy win. They played the Mercer Bears who finished 5-6 overall in FCS football. Alabama scheduled a team who could not even finish with a .500 winning percentage in a considerably lower level of football! Well maybe they needed an easy game since they would play such grueling conference schedule right? You would be wrong. Their best win in conference was an unconvincing win over Mississippi State 24-17, which, to anyone watching who was not a fan of the Crimson Tide, was not so much an Alabama win as it was the Bulldogs poorly managing a game and letting it get away from them. By the time the final CFP rankings were released, Alabama’s best win would become #17 LSU. LSU also played Mississippi State (who finished 23 in the final CFP rankings) and beat them 37-7. Gee, 24-17 does not seem so legitimate anymore does it? Again, you may ask, where is the lie? All these stats are great but why does it matter? That answer, will be found in the team who finished 5 in the final rankings, one spot away from having the chance to play for a national championship.

The number five team in the country was the Ohio State Buckeyes. I myself am no fan of them, far from it, I actually have a burning hatred for them, yet even I cry foul at the sight of seeing them left out. Unlike Alabama, Ohio State had a very tough strength of schedule. They played (according to the final CFP rankings) four teams in the top twenty five and three in the top ten. Of those four games, Ohio State won three over teams ranked 6,9, and 16. Who is Alabama’s best win again? Oh yea, 17. Ohio also had to play an additional game, the conference championship to prove their point and finish with an 11-2 record. Unlike the NFL, a loss is not so easily forgivable. One or two losses can derail an entire season. Should Ohio State be considered an inferior team since they have two losses to Bama’s one? Not at all. Ohio State could have just as well scheduled Mercer instead of non conference top ten opponent Oklahoma. I would bet my house on OSU to beat Mercer.

After laying out the facts, it should be a no brainer that Alabama be left out of the CFP. So why did they still get in? Because the whole system is a flat out lie. The committee states their mission is to select the best teams. That means they can select whomever they choose and hide under the cover of saying they chose “the better team”. Was Alabama the better team? No, they had the better coach. There is no denying that Alabama is a dynasty run by Nick Saban, but the rules state that every year is unique and no season but the current season is evaluated. Because of who he is, Saban was given the benefit of doubt, proving the CFP to be a sham, and nothing but a lie.