NCAA Tournament Projections As of January 30

You hear a lot of discussion about predictive metrics these days. In fact, many bracketologists seem to use predictive metrics more and more each year to state their case in debating their NCAA Tournament projections.

In this two-part series, I’ll start by giving some history behind the metrics and how they came to have an increased focus in the selection process. Then next week, I will explain how the use of these metrics is misunderstood by the public, and even some experts.

Generally, when predictive metrics are discussed, we’re talking about these three systems that are found on the NCAA team sheets: Sagarin, Basketball Power Index and KenPom.

The Sagarin ratings were developed by Jeff Sagarin years ago, yet they are not cited as much by bracketologists as the other two. The Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a rating system developed in conjunction with ESPN, and in my experience, it seems to have the most outliers in its rankings. The most popular site by far is KenPom, which is short for Ken Pomeroy, who developed and founded the site. Pomeroy’s site is the gold standard for computer rankings — just check out the Vegas lines and you’ll see it.

I should state that I am not a mathematician, nor am I an analytics guru who can explain all the data included in the results. But from a high-level view, these three systems use similar data, then add in their own tweaks. At the end of the day, their rankings are generally in agreement with one another.

This leads us to how these metrics became an important part of the selection process.

Back in 2017, the NCAA brought in computer experts to help revamp the RPI, which was the old and obsolete rating system that was previously used. This led to the birth of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), which is the ranking system the NCAA uses today. Some of the aforementioned predictive metrics were baked into the NET rankings, and the school rankings now appear on the team sheets used by the selection committee.

While these metrics have recently garnered more attention from the committee, they are still a very small part of what they look at when placing and seeding teams. Next week, I’ll dive even deeper into these metrics and the committee’s analysis of the numbers.

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LAST FOUR IN: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Nevada
FIRST FOUR OUT: Penn State, Arizona State, Texas A&M, Wisconsin
NEXT FOUR OUT: Mississippi State, Utah State, Oregon, Seton Hall

Big Ten: 8
Big 12: 8
ACC: 7
SEC: 6
Big East: 5
MW: 4
Pac-12: 3
AAC: 2
WCC: 2