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College Basketball – Sagarin Ratings Provide Statistics to Identify Overrated Top 25 Teams
The latest AP College Basketball Weekly Top 25 Poll (1-18-08) and the latest Sagarin Ratings (1-17-08) provide some clues as to which teams are likely overrated.
Sagarin’s ratings give you a bird’s-eye view of identifying teams that played with a bunch of underdogs to build an impressive early win-loss record and now have to face the music of playing in league competition.
You can learn a lot by observing the strength of schedule for the top rated teams. My method is to divide the total of 341 Division 1 teams into 5 categories (literally, 340 divided by 5 is 68). This creates the top 20% (1-68), tier 2 (69-136), tier 3 (137-204), tier 4 (205 to 272), and the bottom 20% (273-340).
The top 20% is the top competition. I think of the next 3 levels as the 2nd string, 3rd string and 4th string competition. I consider the 20% at the bottom to be bottom dwellers that feed on the crumbs that fall off the upper layers.
Here are 4 teams in the AP Top 25 poll that are likely overrated and will prove it in the near future: No. 25 Villanova, no. 16 Vanderbilt, no. 10 Texas A&M and no. 21 Miami (FL). These 4 get a much higher ranking in the AP poll than Sagarin did.
The most exaggerated example is Viljanova at 25th place, which Sagarin rated at 57th place. Villanova has an impressive record of 12-3, but its strength of schedule (SOS) is 240. In other words, Villanova earned its record playing 4th level (or 4th string) competition.
Vanderbilt is ranked No. 16 by the AP and No. 36 by Sagarin. Vandy has a 12-3 record, but his SOS is 164 due to playing third (3rd string) competition.
Texas A&M is ranked No. 10 by the AP and No. 24 by Sagarin. A&M is 14-2, but its SOS is 290 due to playing in the bottom 20% of its competition. Texas A&M, true to my prediction, had just been upset by none other than Bob Knight and his Texas Tech Red Raiders, 68-53. The win was the Knights’ 900. Knight is No. 1 on the NCAA Division I career wins list.
Sagarin is rated 80th by Texas Tech at 9-6, but his SOS is 104 due to playing level 2 (2nd string) competition. The Red Raiders obviously played much better competition before meeting the Texas A&M Aggies and it showed.
Miami (FL) is ranked No. 21 by AP and No. 33 by Sagarin. Miami is 13-2, but its SOS is 281 due to playing in the bottom 20% of its competition. You got the picture.
Here’s another outstanding example from the Pac-10 Conference. Oregon isn’t ranked in the AP Top 25, but Sagarin rated it No. 31 with a 12-5 record and a 24 SOS due to playing top-level competition.
Washington isn’t ranked in the Top 25, but Sagarin ranks him No. 65 with a 10-7 record and a 50 SOS due to playing top competition. Washington just beat Oregon 78-70 at home. Keep in mind that both teams are ranked in the top 20% and are used to playing top competition.
Here’s what won’t work 99% of the time. North Carolina A&T is ranked #268 by Sagarin with a 2-9 record and a fantastic SOS of 2. They have played the 2nd toughest schedule in the country so far this season, but they won’t be upsetting anyone anytime soon as they are also ranked low to begin with, only 5 places out of the bottom 20% nationally.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
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