Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14 Update: West Coast is the Best Coast?

The S-Factor shows four teams from the West Coast Conference getting into the tournament as of this moment: (5) Gonzaga, (9) BYU, (10) St. Mary's, and (10) San Diego.  This will not come to pass.  The West Coast Conference will be a one bid conference (assuming Gonzaga wins the WCC tournament).

Gonzaga is the one team from the West Coast Conference that has the chops to justify an at-large berth.  Their only conference loss was a one-point game at St. Mary's way back in December (apparently the West Coast Conference plays conference games in December).  Their non-conference season was full of RPI-boosting teams that aren't quite cupcakes (Ohio State, Washington State, UT-Martin, Idaho), though they haven't beaten a non-conference top-50-RPI team.

BYU right now is in a distant second place in conference, three games behind Gonzaga.  Their best non-conference win was their opener against South Dakota State, but they've suffered four losses to conference opponents, only one of which was Gonzaga.  Like Gonzaga, they only faced three sub-200-RPI opponents, which keeps BYU's RPI in the 50's.

St. Mary's used to be the likely choice for a second berth into the tournament from the West Coast Conference.  However, that was before they lost 2 in a row and 3 out of 5 to West Coast also-rans Pacific and Loyola Marymount.  Yet they are still 40th in RPI because they too avoided too many sub-200-RPI teams, battling just 3 in non-conference play.

San Diego was ahead of even Gonzaga in the S-Factor before the conference season started.  Their win over Arizona State is by far the best win by any team in the conference.  They were undefeated until January 8th at Portland, but since then they've gone 4-6 against conference opponents. They still have a top 50 RPI.

If these four opponents ran the table on every other team in the league and suffered losses only against each other, one could make a strong argument that they are all deserving of consideration to the tournament and that the West Coast Conference has somehow clawed its way into the Atlantic 10-Memorial Best Mid-Major Conference spot.  But the three non-Gonzaga teams on this list have suffered losses against Pacific (86), Portland (136), San Francisco (152), and just last night, Loyola Marymount (211).

This could also be taken as an argument for the strength of the conference as a whole from top to bottom, similar to the reason why the Big 12 was the best RPI conference in women's hoops for so many years. Last year, the Big 12's reputation for strength led to the tournament selection committee choosing 70% of their teams.

But the Big 12 Conference and the West Coast Conference are not similar in the eyes of the selection committee.  No matter what the RPI numbers say, wins against Texas Tech and Kansas State sound a lot better than wins against Pepperdine and Santa Clara.

This is not a monolith of power atop the Pacific Time Zone's best mid-major conference.  This is just a conference with an abnormally high RPI mucking up my prediction formula.

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Now in:
Florida State (good win at Syracuse last night puts them back in)

St. Joseph's (speaking of abnormally high RPI)

Auburn (easy schedule coming up, could finish 9-7 in the SEC)

Rutgers (finally overcame that Memphis loss in my formula)

Now out:
UTEP (bracket churn)

Bowling Green (Ohio State dropped out of the top 50, which means BGSU no longer has any top 50 wins)

Indiana (3-7 in their last 10)

St. Bonaventure (7-game winning streak came to an end on Wednesday)

ACC Teams:
(1) Notre Dame
(2) Duke
(3) North Carolina State
(4) Maryland
(5) North Carolina
(7) Syracuse
(8) Florida State
(11) Georgia Tech

AAC Teams:
(1) Connecticut
(2) Louisville
(11) Rutgers

Atlantic 10 Teams:
(8) Dayton
(9) St. Joseph's

Big East Teams:
(6) St. John's
(8) DePaul
(10) Villanova

Big Ten Teams:
(2) Penn State
(4) Iowa
(4) Purdue
(6) Nebraska
(9) Michigan State

Big 12 Teams:
(3) Baylor
(3) West Virginia
(6) Oklahoma State
(6) Texas

PAC 12 Teams:
(1) Stanford
(5) Arizona State
(7) California
(11) USC

SEC Teams:
(1) South Carolina
(2) Tennessee
(3) Texas A&M
(4) LSU
(5) Kentucky
(7) Vanderbilt
(8) Florida
(10) Auburn

West Coast Teams:
(5) Gonzaga
(9) BYU
(10) St. Mary's
(10) San Diego

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