Friday, April 20, 2007

ESPN on Davidson hoops

ESPN's Andy Katz has now listed Davidson as likely to be ranked nationally as a top 25 team in the preseason next fall. Yesterday, ESPN's Andy Glockner had a long story explaining that major powers were making a mistake not playing teams like Davidson:
Quick: Name the best "RPI opponent" in the country last season.

Ohio State was atop the RPI at the end of the regular season, but the Buckeyes didn't provide the best bang for your RPI buck. Neither did Memphis, Florida, UCLA, Kansas, Wisconsin or North Carolina, even though all six of those elite programs also finished in the top 11 in the RPI. Why? Because all those teams were very likely to beat you, negating some of the benefit their strong win/loss records and strengths of schedule provided for your RPI.

As your own winning percentage is 25 percent of your RPI, you must add relative "beatability" into the equation. When you do, the answer probably will surprise you: It's Davidson. In addition to finishing the regular season with a 25-4 Division I record, the Wildcats' overall schedule (including games in the underrated Southern Conference, which ended up 19th of the 31 conferences in RPI) was strong enough to give the Wildcats the 10th-best combination of winning percentage and SOS in the country (measured with winning percentage being worth twice as much as SOS, per the RPI formula). Now weigh the fact that most Top 25 teams would be strongly favored over Davidson at home, and it's a no-brainer.

Of course, as the Cats showed in the NCAA tourney when we were beating Maryland by 8 in the second half, actually beating us is no easy feat.


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