Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Outliers

It's hard to tell which teams selected by the College Women's Hoops S-Factor are mistakes and which ones are legitimate since there is only one confirmation test per year. But when one compares the S-Factor to other rankings generated by humans and computers, one gets a sense of where the outliers are.

Clearly the S-Factor is having problems seeing the merit of teams from mid-major conferences. The Horizon League's Wisconsin-Green Bay is ranked in both national polls, Charlie Creme's week old bracket has them in as a 5 seed, and a collection of models (Massey Ratings, Sagarin Ratings, Steven Jens and Sonny Moore) puts the Phoenix somewhere around a 7 seed. Yet the S-Factor huffily bestows an automatic-only seed of 11. Bowling Green, out of the Mid America Conference, winners of 14 games in a row and very close to being nationally ranked, is getting an average of a 7 seed by the computers (Steven Jens thinks they're the 16th best team in the country). But the S-Factor deigns only to give them a 12 seed, and nothing at all if they lose their conference tournament.

There are also teams that the S-Factor is infatuated with. Michigan, despite dropping their last two games, shows up high in the S-Factor with a predicted 6 seed, which is 4 seeds higher than the nearest outside computer model (Sagarin) would have them. (The S-Factor really loves those wins over Ohio State and Iowa). Creme's bracket doesn't even show Michigan in the "last four out" category. Another Big Ten team much loved by the S-Factor is Penn State, a team both humans and computers agree should be seeded somewhere south of an 8 seed (if at all). But the S-Factor puts them as the highest of the 5 seeds.

Some teams that seem too highly ranked with regard to human polls and brackets are actually mostly in line with other computer rankings. DePaul (2), Marquette (3), Texas Tech (5) and Louisville (7) are all teams that get more respect from number crunching than from human prognosticators, and the S-Factor sides more with the computers. The S-Factor also agrees with computers when humans appear to be overly sympathetic to some teams, like Ohio State (9), Kentucky (9), Syracuse (10) and Boston College (10).

And then there's the curious case of Oklahoma. Charlie Creme has them as a 6 seed. The polls would have them in with a 4 seed. Looks good for them, right? But according to RPI, the Sooners aren't anywhere near being in the tournament. The computer models Massey, Sagarin, and Jens all put them about where the S-Factor does around the mid-forties. But Sonny Moore ranks them 12th in the country, which would correspond to a 3 seed. Crazy!

Now in: (same as yesterday)
Now out: (same as yesterday)

Conferences with multiple bids:
Big East: 10
ACC: 7
Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 5
PAC-10: 5
SEC: 4
Atlantic 10: 2

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