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Thread: Why Mid-Majors Have the Most to Gain in Thanksgiving Tournaments + Mid-Major Top 10

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Default Why Mid-Majors Have the Most to Gain in Thanksgiving Tournaments + Mid-Major Top 10

    Any interesting article from ESPNWs Graham Hayes plus his updated Top-10 mid-major. Graham shows why playing teams from P5 conferences is imperative when it comes to rankings.

    Why mid-majors have the most to gain in Thanksgiving tournaments
    Graham Hays

    Thanksgiving tournaments are a preview of coming attractions for basketball's ruling class. The holiday getaways are an opportunity for Louisville and Oregon (3:15 p.m. ET Saturday) or Baylor and South Carolina (8 p.m. ET Saturday) to play each other in the kind of games they expect to encounter deep in the NCAA tournament -- but without the stakes attached.

    For mid-major teams such as Northern Iowa, those with aspirations of making major impressions come March, Thanksgiving can make or break a season. Those are the teams that need this week.

    A team such as South Dakota State lacks that built-in access to the kind of games that both help a mid-major program's RPI and catch the attention of poll voters. Top mid-majors playing each other makes for good basketball and helps those teams, but it doesn't move the needle. When South Dakota and Drake played two weeks ago, the result was a net decrease in their combined votes in the Associated Press poll. They need wins against the Power 5.
    Here is a quote from Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw on the importance of scheduling mid-major teams:

    "I think it's important for the growth of the game to play those teams and not be afraid to play them on the road. ... It's hard this year because, I mean, we could lose easily. But I think we have to [play those teams]."

    There you go Mr. Roth and CLF, how about getting a game with ND.

    Entire article and Top-10 Mid-Major list with a short write-up about the Lady Zags at the link:

    Gonzaga now at #2 on ESPNs Top-10 mid-major list.

    Go Zags,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    all sounds nice , if we would just go to Uconn, then ND then stop at Louisville and even though we get thrashed the "committee" at the end of the year will give us extra brownie points for playing the P5 teams......NOT!

    its wins, wins , wins.....we schedule 2 P5 teams as it is....we scrimmage another.....we go to tournaments every year hoping to meet up with a P5 team and beat them....

    go look at schedules......even many mid majors play most OCC games at home.....most P5 teams do as well, along with many cupcakes....sure, they'll pick up a good team now and then,but they play it very safe....

    my point is that TPTB play fast and loose with the facts, with sos, with rpi, with name power and they reward who they want with favorable seedings, rankings....

    we just have to realize that.....we must win our conference and we must win the tournement every year....the committee doesn't care that we played Nike U and lost back in November....

    in a just world, a small school would be rewarded for going after tough opponents, but not the ncaa just world, the same old same old power teams would not get home and home games in the tournament, or very close to home games... year in and year out......

    and scheduling is not always up to us....its getting other teams to play us......we already have to pay teams to come here as it is....

    I would be all in favor of playing all power 5 teams but the upside besides good game experience, is not as great as one would think.

    IF the ncaa select committees actually followed a strict formula for rankings/ and especially seedings, which takes into account playing on other peoples courts, and penalizes teams that schedule weak opponents at home, then I say go for ND.....go for South Carolina and Uconn...heck go for oregon......but there has to be a reward in trying and the ncaa has to recognize that...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2014



    You are entirely correct in that the NCAA selection committee would much prefer to have P5 teams in the NCAA tournament over the mid-majors. More name recognition and typically more graduates, generates more interest which results in greater attendance and more TV viewers, and in the end, more money for the NCAA and their members.

    You are also correct that if an at-large bid comes down to a highly qualified mid-major and a mid- pack P5 team, the at large bid, more times than not, will go to the P5 team. Many, many times a deserving, conference champion mid-major sits at home while a 6th-8th place P5 team gets to go to the tournament. To be fair to the selection committee, the NCAA selection committee knows what they are going to get out of the 6th-8th place P5 team, they have seen it all conference schedule long. With the champion mid-major team, what you get on the court can be a somewhat of a crap shoot. A conference champion of a bad conference does not necessarily warrant a NCAA tournament bid if they cannot win their conference tournament. If any conference wants to guarantee their conference champion a tournament spot, then simply award the guaranteed tournament spot to the conference champion and not to the conference tournament champion. The Ivy league does not even have a conference tournament. They award the NCAA tournament bid to the conference champion. This essentially guarantees the conference is a 1-bid league, but since only 3-4 mid-major conferences are going to be a multiple bid leagues anyway it may not matter.

    Before any further evaluation, we do have to keep in mind that in the D-1 women's basketball, there is a major difference in the quality of play between say the Top 10-15 teams, the next 15-30 teams, the following 30-75 teams and teams 75-351. You rarely see a SF Austin victory over Duke at Duke or a Evansville over Kentucky at Kentucky, type upset in the women's game. Whether that is due to a more limited number of available, talented players, a more limited number of qualified coaches, less money spent on the women's game or any other reason, there just is not near the parity in the women's game that there is in the men's game of college basketball.

    The tournament selection committee recognizes this lack of parity and awards the "at-large" bids according to the teams which have proven they belong all year against the best competition (particularly since it usually suits their desire for more P5 teams). Anybody can get up for one or two games a year (like Stanford & WSU), but if you have to face quality competition in essentially every game (like the P5 teams do in conference play), you have shown yourselves worthy of consideration. It is up to the mid-major teams to show the selection committee that they deserve consideration before those mid-pack P5 teams. This is accomplished by playing and beating those same P5 teams that have played the 6th-8th place P5 teams. Direct comparison with equal competition removes or certainly reduces doubt in the minds of the committee.

    However, the majority of the rest of your narrative is (in your words) somewhat "fast and loose with the facts".

    In reality, the NCAA selection committee actually does follow a relatively strict formula for rankings and especially seedings, it is just that the criteria they use for the selection and seeding is not very comprehensive and representative. Unfortunately, due to the lack of coverage of the women's game, some of the criteria used by the Mbb selection committee (Kenpom, BPI, various computer projections, etc.) are simply not calculated for the women's game and thus not available for the selection committee to use. Should the NCAA pay to have these evaluation criteria calculated for the Wbb, of course, but that discussion is for another thread.

    Wins, wins, wins, in and of itself, guarantees you absolutely nothing, as I will show you below. There have been many, many, 27-30 win mid-major teams over the recent years who have never made the NCAA tournament simply because they did not win their conference tournament and did not get the automatic bid. If you count on wins to get you in, you are chasing shadows, it simply won't work.

    It is well known that the Wbb NCAA selection committee uses two (2) primary evaluation tools (SOS and RPI) in the selection of "at-large" bibs and the seedings of teams. Both the SOS and RPI are greatly influenced by the quality of your opponent. Essentially, if you schedule better (teams with more wins) opposition who also schedules better (teams with more wins) opposition, your potential to significantly improve both your SOS and RPI goes up significantly.

    First wins and losses have absolutely no impact on your SOS ranking number. The better the team the lower the SOS ranking. The worse the team, the higher the SOS ranking. While you do not know how each team will be when the game is scheduled, you do know that if a team is a P5 conference member or a top tier mid-major, it is very likely that the team will have a SOS ranking below 150 and rarely will that team have an SOS ranking above 225 no matter who you schedule. Many of the mid-major and teams of historically poor SOS ranking conferences, similar to some of those that the Lady Zags will play this year (Big Sky, Big West, etc.), will have SOS ranking numbers above 250. You simply cannot improve your SOS numbers if you are playing teams ranked in the bottom third of the NCAA. Scheduling known commodities will improve your SOS numbers, knowingly scheduling teams with historically low SOS numbers hurts your SOS and ultimately your chances with the NCAA selection committee. Your schedule will determine your SOS ranking, it is not determined on the court. While a difficult schedule does not guarentee a spot in the NCAA tournament, a poor (weak) schedule many eliminate the team from consideration for an "At-Large" bid and result in a team which absolutely must win the conference tournament to get the automatic bid. It is easy to improve your SOS numbers, simply schedule teams with historically better SOS numbers (does not have to be P5 teams) and not teams from conferences with historically low SOS numbers. When the majority of games you play lowers your SOS numbers it is "Houston we have a problem", so don't blame the NCAA for this number, it is all on the Zags and their scheduling (no matter how difficult it is).

    The RPI is a mysterious number that is based on facts, but is terribly inconsistent in evaluating teams as a whole. It bodes well to understand how the RPI is calculated so you can understand how it works:

    The RPI is calculated by using 25 percent of the team's winning percentage; 50 percent of its opponents' average winning percentage; and 25 percent of its opponents' opponents' average winning percentage.
    Only 25% of your RPI is based on your number of wins, but 50% is based on the number of wins of your opponents. Beat opposition that gets a lot of wins your RPI goes up but beat bad teams with poor records and that hurts your RPI twice as much as the win helped your RPI. The remaining 25% is based on the number of wins of your opponents, opponents. If you play teams that historically don't schedule well, it will further hurt your RPI. You know the P5 teams historically schedule cupcakes during their OOC schedule, so it is more likely that the P5 teams and their competition will more wins than the average mid-major teams. In summary, only 25% of your RPI is based on you winning the game, the other 75% is based on the quality (number of wins) of your scheduled opponent and your the quality of your opponent's scheduled opponents.

    While name recognition certainly helps, in the CLF era, GU has gotten two at-large bids, and the seedings for the lady zags have not been "way" out of line based on the selection criteria and their Top-25 rankings. Last year BYU beat us 3 times and we were still seeded above them. During the CLF era, it is really hard to say the NCAA has mistreated the Lady Zags when it comes to the NCAA tournament time.

    In summary, all 351 NCAA D1 Wbb teams (and most passionate fans) know the NCAA selection criteria long before the scheduling is ever begun. While simply scheduling more difficult OOC teams does not guarantee the ladies participation in the NCAA tournament (they still have to win on the court), Scheduling more difficult OOC teams will improve your SOS and will improve your potential RPI (particularly if the ladies win). In addition, you know that playing better teams, better prepares you for the conference season. You also know that the team members (particularly team members from the USA) would rather be playing the Stanfords, Cals, UCLAs, etc. than the UT-Martins and Texas Southerns.

    This year the Lady Zags have "scheduled" two (2) P5 teams, Stanford and WSU both away from the kennel. Stanford is a top tier team and WSU expected to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12. If the lady zags lose to Dayton in the Gulf Coast Showcase, they may not play another P5 team all year. Little to no chance of improving their SOS and RPI if they have a poor showing, particularly in game 1 of the Showcase. Remember Las Vegs tournament a couple of years ago when we lost the first game and went 1-2. Why not play one or two more P5 teams at home (replace UT-Martin and Texas Southern) and give the Lady Zags a chance to improve their RPI. Why essentially force the Lady Zags to have to win the WCC tournament to get the automatic bid when a relatively simple schedule change could allow them to compete for that elusive "At-Large bid in addition to the automatic bid.

    IMO I like having as many options to get into the NCAA tournament as possible. The team deserves more opportunities, the program, as a whole, deserves more opportunities and frankly, the fans who support the Zags as one of the top 12 attended programs in the country deserve more opportunities. For me, I would much prefer to watch a loss to Stanford in the Kennel that another UC Bakersfield or EWU blow-out in the kennel.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2014


    Oh gawd, what a long drawn out response.

    How about a summary in a few less sentences (let alone paragraphs).

    1. It is the NCAA's game.
    2. The NCAA sets the rules which incorporate their internal biases.
    3. Everybody knows the rules before they sit down at the table. That is how the bracketologists can get over 95% of the tournament selections right.
    4. The players (teams) know how they can manipulate the system to improve their odds of winning (making the tournament).
    5. Complaining about how the rules treat mid-majors is not going to get the NCAA to change. They like P5 teams in the seats at their game.
    6. If you don't like the game, you are not required to play. There are several other post season tournaments that you can play in that would love to have you.

    You know the rules, do you still want to play? Do you want to improve your chances of being asked to sit at the table?

    What are you going to do about it?


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