Sunday, April 1, 2012

lacrosse bracketology

Exciting news: last week's bracketology came in for a ton of criticism, including yours truly being called a monkey.  This is a step up in the world of bracketology.  Joe Lunardi gets called a monkey like four times a day in peak hoops season and he pulls in six figures probably, so I figure I'm a step closer on the path to dollar bills and world domination by that metric.  Let's look at this week's bracket:

Remember, before you start comparing me to the lesser primates, this is not a projection, it's a snapshot of where we stand If The Season Ended Today.  I must offer one mea culpa: it was pointed out to me last week that the Big East does in fact have an autobid.  It had been my impression that they had to wait til 2013 along with the NEC, but nope: in checking the media guide, I found confirmation of my mistake.

(In checking the media guide, I also found hilarity.  The Big East lists preferred and unacceptable reference terms for each of its teams - and the conference itself - and most of them make some sense.  DePaul wants to make sure you capitalize the P, for example; "Depaul" is unacceptable.  Villanova wants "Wildcats" and never "'Cats."  Fine.  Also listed as unacceptable: "Big East."  You're not supposed to call it the Big East, because it seems the whole damn name is supposed to be in caps: "BIG EAST."  Wuteva.  I'm not doing it, nobody else is doing it, and frankly I've never seen an organization so pathetic and yet so comically full of itself.  Do you think they'll like Biggish Eastish, which is what I've taken to calling them ever since they started adding teams decidedly neither Big nor East?)

There weren't a lot of games from last week that I identified as important, but let's see what happened in them:

Bucknell 9, Penn State 6: If PSU had won this, they'd probably have been in the bracket today.  Instead they're on the outside looking in.  All their losses are to tourney teams and they do have a win over Notre Dame, which is the only reason they're even under consideration, really.  PSU now has to churn through a mediocre CAA schedule (having lost already to UMass) and probably hope for some help.

Lehigh 9, Navy 4: Because Navy doesn't suck, this gave Lehigh a little boost.  The best is yet to come for the Mountain Hawks: Colgate and Bucknell the next two weeks.

Virginia 12, Maryland 8: Giggity.

Penn State 13, Villanova 8: This really had more the effect of helping to remove Villanova from the bracket than to boost PSU.  It didn't help Nova that Syracuse lost.

Duke 12, Syracuse 10: Let's have a little talk about Syracuse here: they are really in hot water.  I have a ranking system that ranks the teams 1 to whatever, using the metrics that the NCAA uses.  Syracuse is 15th (thanks to autobids, not good enough to get into the bracket even if I just plopped in the teams by rotely going down the ranking list) and the only reason they're even that high is because of their strength of schedule (SOS) which is 2nd in the country.  Their RPI is in the can, they really have beaten nobody, and the loss to Villanova is the icer.  Right now they're below a lot of teams on the pecking order.  I really should've put them below Towson, but I can't completely ignore SOS.  Next week, Syracuse plays Princeton, and if they lose you won't find them anywhere on this page; teams with a losing record are barred from at-large consideration.  That last rule is what has them majorly behind the 8-ball: they may lose to Princeton and Cornell.  They'll probably then beat Rutgers and Hobart to move to 6-6, but then there's Georgetown and Notre Dame.  There is no Big East tournament, therefore no chance to redeem themselves.  (EDIT: yes there is.  BUT the winner of it doesn't get the autobid, so they can't autobid their way in unless they start winning some regular season games pronto, which is the point I was trying to get across.)  They have to get a win sometime soon, maybe two, or else the NCAA will hold a tournament minus Syracuse for only the second time since 1983 (they missed out in 2007 as well.)

North Carolina 13, Johns Hopkins 9: Hopkins stayed in the #1 seed anyway, but it's not the slam dunk it was.  Loyola(!) is knocking on the door.  Meanwhile, Carolina, which two weeks ago wasn't even on the page, skyrockets to the #4 seed.

Some more points of emphasis:

-- UVA: now the three seed, and threatening to move higher if we keep winning and Loyola stumbles, which they almost did against Ohio State.  That said, Loyola has three quality teams yet to be played, and could just as easily prove me wrong about that whole Hopkins-UVA-#1-seed thing.

-- UMass fans are up in arms about why a top-3 team in the country (in the rankings) would be in the 7-8 range in tournament seeding, and it's not just directed at me; the establishment at large is the target of their discontent.  Well, for one, anyone who thinks the tournament seeds and the polls have any link is horribly, horribly misguided.  I'd be surprised if the committee even has a copy of the polls in their war room. 

For two, UMass's SOS is lame-o.  Really lame-o.  It comes in at #41 of 61 in the country (or #39, depending on how exactly you figure, but #41 based on every team's top 10 games, which is what the committee uses); the only team under consideration here that it beat out was Siena.  They've beaten two teams with winning records: Bucknell and Harvard, the latter of which doesn't move the needle for tourney consideration.  I figured UMass would want to root for UVA to beat Maryland, and I was right; that enabled them to move from #8 to #7, but they're probably going to be stuck for the foreseeable future.  The CAA is down this year so there's not much they can do about the SOS; they'll just have to keep their RPI afloat by continuing to win and hoping the ACC teams beat each other up.

-- How about the Patriot League with three teams in the bracket?  I don't know if that can last since none of them have played each other yet and Colgate is literally the last team in and Bucknell wouldn't be there (Denver would instead) if they didn't have the semi-arbitrary autobid (which uses the LaxPower computer rankings to break ties and it so happens Bucknell is 0.03 points ahead of Lehigh), but it's kinda cool regardless.  I've always dug the PL.

-- I wonder if a UMass-Loyola quarterfinal would be met with the same annoyed animosity that the TCU-Boise Fiesta Bowl had?  Actually, this bracket sets up some very interesting quarterfinals assuming the chalk advances: UVA-Duke (NOOOOOO), Hopkins-Maryland, UNC-ND.

-- Finally, here are the games to watch this coming week:

Georgetown at Villanova: Might be an elimination game for someone; the winner edges closer to the bracket and the loser likely will not be heard from again.

UMBC at Towson: Towson, like Georgetown, is something of a lurker.  UMBC's RPI is amazing considering they're only 3-4, so beating them could provide the Tigers with a little boost.

Siena at Detroit: UDM suffered an annoying loss to Manhattan this week, but nevertheless they are one of Siena's biggest threats in the competition for the MAAC's autobid.  Beating the Titans would give Siena a near-stranglehold on it.

Loyola at Fairfield: Battle royale of the ECAC's last undefeateds.  Fairfield's grip on their tourney spot is pretty tenuous - only Colgate is closer to the bubble - but a win over Loyola would give them inside track on an autobid and, obviously, a shiny object for their resume.

Towson at Massachusetts: If UMass is going to stumble, this is their most likely spot for it.  The last team left on their schedule that currently has a winning record.  It'll be interesting to see what a win might do for their metrics.

Virginia at North Carolina: We must break you.

Lehigh at Colgate: Things will start to get settled in the Patriot League.

Princeton at Syracuse: Syracuse's future has already been discussed in depth.  A must-win.  If they don't, more must-wins on the horizon, but they've got to find something.  If they don't beat Princeton, I don't like their chances of beating Cornell, either.  On the other hand, their SOS is so strong that a win or two against the good teams will probably have a very springy effect.


Anonymous said...

OT: Tough weekend loss for the baseball team. Branden Kline pitched a great game against Rodon (boy, Rodon looks dynamite and the Pack look like they have a nice 2-3 year window with their young talent), and when the Cavs rallied in the 9th yesterday, that was exciting.

Still, to be expected with this squad against quality opponents. There's enough offense, enough pitching to keep them hanging around and competitive, but not enough to go into a series against a good team and think that we have a high percentage shot to win the series.

The best part is that this is a nice building year for 2013, as the chances are high that we won't lose a bunch of guys (Kline seems like a goner if he keeps this up, as he's a potential top 2 round college arm, but not sure I see many non-seniors going pro). Of course, the flip side is replacing an arm like Kline is tough.

Anonymous said...

Virginia Hack, clearly your opinion is incorrect, since you haven't been initiated into the inner circle of the laxpower forums. Not like that guy "humb le", who seems to be the Billy Mitchell (from King of Kong) of this particular in-group.

#16 said...

i'm a tad confused why the lax bracketology has uva #3.... when "if the season ended today" we're the #1 team in the country?

and can you explain princeton's ranking when they're so high in computer polls?

love the blog. favorite uva blogger for sure. just would love a little more detail in number form, i think?

Brendan said...

Wouldn't be very interesting if I just plopped all the teams down in order of their poll ranking. Besides, I specifically warned in the post about thinking the polls have any bearing on the tournament seeding. They do not. At all. Regardless of the sport, the polls are at most an interesting discussion topic and nothing else, and should be totally ignored in any talk of tournament seeding.

As for the computer rankings, a much better question. The answer is that those rankings take margin of victory into account, and weight it very heavily. In bracketology, margin of victory hardly ever comes into play, except perhaps when comparing two teams with similar resumes and checking their common opponents.

The computers, for example, see Team A beat Team C by 10 and Team B win by 8 and conclude Team A is the better team. They may be right, but the goal of the computer rankings is to be predictive, whereas tournament seeding is not. If Team C is Somalia State, bracketology really doesn't care about the nitpick of how much you beat them by. Computer models do, though.

In Princeton's case, the computers give them a lot of credit for losing to excellent teams by slim margins and by beating up on others. They beat Brown 13-2, for example. Would 13-2, instead of, say, 13-7, improve their tournament position? No, it wouldn't, but the computers like it. Princeton has only beaten one team with a winning record (Villanova) and that's the sort of thing we care about in bracketology.