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The NCAA tournament selection committee can’t do math

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

A selection committee member gave me $100 to invest. I gained 190% the first year. I lost 90% the second year. $29 was left. He was very happy with the average 50% return and the one quality year. I told him the geometric mean was more important. He didn’t know what I was talking about.


All of last week I was thinking, if the selection committee has any brains at all, we’re a shoo-in for the tournament. The top measure of a team’s future performance is KenPom, which had us at 32. The top measure of a team’s past performance is Strength of Record, which had us at 31. The NET was the fancy new thing that did both and had us at 33.

They did not have any brains at all. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The average committee member is an athletic director who got a Master’s degree in Administration thirty years ago. Here they are:

  • Bernard Muir (Stanford AD): Bachelor’s in Organizational Behavior and Management 1990. Master’s in Sports Administration in 1992.
  • Mitch Barnhart (Kentucky AD): Master’s in Sports Administration around 1983.
  • Jim Phillips (Northwestern AD): Ph.D. in Educational Administration in 2007.
  • Kevin White (Duke AD): Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1972. Master’s in Athletics Administration in 1976. Ph.D. in Educational Administration in 1983.
  • Bruce Rasmussen (Creighton AD): Math and English in 1971.
  • Janet Cone (UNCA AD): Bachelor’s in 1978. Master’s in 1986.
  • Tom Burnett (Southland Commissioner): Bachelor’s in Journalism in 1988.
  • Craig Thompson (Mountain West Commissioner): Bachelor’s in Journalism in 1978.
  • Jim Schaus (Ohio AD): Bachelor’s in 1983. Master’s in Athletics Administration.
  • Tom Holmoe (BYU AD): Bachelor’s in Zoology in 1983. Master’s in Athletic Administration in 1995.

There’s no professors. There’s no researchers. There’s no one who understands algorithms. There’s no one who’s had an advanced math class in the last forty years. Their job is to manage people and talk to other people. They define success by bringing in money and hiring successful coaches. They have no concept of how little they are able to account for 5000 games played. They don’t care what nerds at ESPN or Google say.

So they use shortcuts. Shortcuts like “This paper says that NC State has a bad strength of schedule and an RPI of 97. Auburn is a top-25 win but I would’ve been more impressed if they beat Virginia or Florida State or something.” I’m convinced the RPI mattered more than the NET. Temple got in with an RPI of 34. Arizona State got in with an RPI of 44. UNC-G was first out with an RPI of 31. They’re all between 56-63 in the NET.


The worst part is that the idiot journalists have been right all along because they’re basically the same people as the idiots on the committee. The analysis begins and ends with “Bad SOS, didn’t beat anybody.”

If Debbie or Boo want any advice, schedule like Syracuse or Penn State or Oklahoma did. Stuff the schedule with teams in the 50-150 range. Neutral games with teams in the 30-100 range are gold. Avoid anyone much worse than 200. Play exhibition games or Division 2 teams if you want tune-up games.

Oh well. I don’t think we were destined for a Sweet 16 run anyway. We’re rebuilding and we’ve had a better first two years than most people get. Feel free to root for other ACC teams. Everyone in the ACC gets money for every game with an ACC team through the final four