Saturday Dec 06, 2008

BCS Update and New Ratings

My computers ratings are now posted and continue to have OU, Texas, and Florida #1 thru #3. Florida makes up a little ground but not enough to pass Texas.

And this is an indication of why the BCS computers will keep Florida behind Texas and create a gap that the polls will have to make up to make what the media is telling us will happen (OU vs Florida) actually do so. Jeff Sagarin's ratings are already out and Florida is #4 (!) behind Texas Tech, I've computed my best attempt at the Colley Matrix (he is kind enough to publish his algorithm) and Florida is #3 behind Texas, and I'm guessing Florida will be #3 in Anderson and Hester, #2 in Billingsley, #4 in Massey, and #4 in Wolfe. This will leave a gap of 0.04 that the pollsters must make up.

My computer did well predicting games going 12-8 against the spread overall and 2-1 in best picks. Ironically, my computer picked the Florida over Alabama "upset" but since Vegas felt even stronger about it (10 points) than my computer (6 points) it missed that game with the 11 point margin of victory. But I'll take having Alabama more or less properly ranked all season and going 8-3 picking them against the spread over picking one game right.

Stay tuned for bowl picks coming soon

Alabama was a fraud, and the top-2 in the BCS will be?

I wrote several blog entries last week first predicting OU would move to #2 in the BCS and then asking if the BCS should drop the polls where I also listed some of my computer's predictions for this weekend.

I'm pleased to say the computer picked the "upset" by Florida over Alabama as I wrote about a month ago saying Alabama was a fraud (and Alabama lost by more than I predicted so my computer having them #7 may have been high!) and now the question is who will be in the top-2 of the BCS come Sunday evening? The media would have us believe that OU vs Florida is a foregone conclusion, but I'm not so sure.

Coming into this week, Florida was #4 in the BCS trailing #3 Texas by 0.0372 which trailed #2 OU by 0.0128. In the polls, the 3 teams were virtually identical with OU totaling 1.825, Texas 1.827, and Florida 1.835, the deciding factor being the computers where OU was at 0.980, Texas 0.940, and Florida trailing at 0.820. With Florida beating Alabama, they will improve in the computer ratings but my guess is that they will still be #3 behind OU at 1.000, Texas at 0.940, and Florida at 0.900.

To make up the gap in the computers, Florida will have to be a combined total of at least 175 votes ahead of Texas in the polls. This is 142 votes more than the gap last week. For this to happen, voters will have to either a) in dropping Alabama, give many more of their #1 votes to Florida than to OU, or b) those that had Florida behind Texas last week will have to swap them.

Correction: Given Florida was already #2 in the Harris poll ahead of Texas but #4 behind Texas in the Coaches poll, I'm estimating they'll need to extend the lead in the Harris poll to 88 points and take a lead of 14 points in the Coaches poll to overcome the deficit in the computer ratings.

While one or some combination of both may happen, it will be because voters are manipulating the system to get the championship game they want. I fail to see the logic in why Florida should get more of Alabama's #1 votes than OU given OU's dominating win over Missouri, and if last week a voter had Texas ahead of Florida and the team Texas beat just walloped Missouri, why does Florida beating an overrated Alabama justify changing that?

Another way of looking at it is that we have 3 1-loss teams so lets look at which one has the best or worst loss. OU lost to Texas so that would seem to be the "best" loss which confirms them being #1. Texas' loss was to a 1-loss Texas Tech which would seem to be a better loss than Florida's loss to a 4-loss Ole Miss. By that logic USC should be being considered as their loss was to a 4-loss Oregon State.

So the voters will likely vote to make it happen because the media says it should happen, but watch closely to see how close it is and don't be surprised if honest voting ends up having OU and Texas in the BCS championship game.

Saturday Nov 08, 2008

Alabama is a Fraud

Ok, perhaps not a complete fraud, but certainly not (IMHO) a deserving #1 in the college football rankings. How could an undefeated team be a fraud you ask?

To start, lets look at their schedule. Of their 10 opponents, only 4 even have winning records. This results in an opponents percentage of only 0.518 even with the losses to Alabama factored out. Further, Alabama's out of conference schedule was Clemson (4-5), Tulane (2-7), Western Kentucky (2-8), and Arkansas State (4-5).

Compare this with the opponents winning percentages for the other undefeated teams and Alabama falls behind Texas Tech (0.602) and Utah (0.576) and only ahead of Boise State (0.468) and Ball State (0.387). At least Utah went out of conference against Oregon State (6-3) and Boise State against Oregon (7-3). Alabama's opponents winning percentage also falls behind 1-loss contenders Texas (0.693), Florida (0.610), Southern California (0.539), and Oklahoma (0.539). So they clearly haven't played the toughest schedule and if someone like Southern Cal is going to get dinged for a weak schedule it would seem that Alabama should too.

But a team shouldn't be penalized for having a poor schedule if they soundly defeat the poor teams and do play well in their games against better teams. And this is where Alabama falls down a bit. In a home game, they only beat a 2-7 Tulane team by 14, they eked out a 3 point win again at home against Kentucky, and eked out another 4 point win again at home against Mississippi. Their two significant wins are against Georgia by 11 and a weaker than normal LSU by 6. And Georgia got walloped by 39 and LSU by 30 against Florida, and LSU, at home, was able to beat a 3-6 Mississippi State by only 10 and Georgia was able to beat Kentucky by only 4. So, Alabama isn't soundly defeating some not so good teams and their only 2 significant wins were not that impressive.

Compare this again with their undefeated competition and you see Texas Tech soundly defeating all their poor opponents (closest win 16, others in 20's and above) and has beat a 1-loss Texas in a close game, walloped an 8-2 Oklahoma State by 36, and a 6-4 Kansas by 42. Similarly 1-loss Oklahoma, Texas, and Southern Cal, and Florida have clearly handled poor competition and aside from their 1 loss each, good competition as well.

Now of course, those 1-loss teams have, well, 1 loss, so doesn't Alabama staying unblemished trump these other failings? To a degree yes, but clearly there is a point where it doesn't (see Utah, Boise State, and Ball State) so why should Alabama be any different? I think it is clear that based on the data one can't justifiably put Alabama ahead of Texas Tech but using the same logic as is used for not putting Utah or Boise State ahead of Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, and Southern Cal one could argue Alabama shouldn't be ahead of them either.

For an objective look at who should be ranked where, see my computer ratings which have Texas Tech #1 but some surprises after that.

Now, thankfully time will tell, especially with Alabama having to face Florida in the SEC Championship, so either my skepticism will be proven right or Alabama will have the opportunity to show they deserve a BCS championship game berth. Of course, they have two more poor/average teams to reinforce my analysis above before that (3-6 Mississippi State and 5-5 Auburn).

Sunday Dec 02, 2007

BCS Nightmare

The whacky college football season just won't end. With a clear path to the BCS Championship game, West Virginia and Missouri both laid an egg.

Now, I probably shouldn't ding Missouri too much for their loss. They weren't favored, and OU had already beaten them once, but beating a team a second time is often quite difficult (see BC and Virginia Tech) and OU did it convincingly. Nevertheless, Missouri had their fate in their hands and let it slip away.

Now admittedly, West Virginia was without Pat White much of the game, but still couldn't manage more than one one touchdown, and that something of a gift on a ticky tack call, against a 4-7 Pitt team.

So, who should be in the championship game? It depends on how you define who should be there.
  • The two best teams - If you want the two teams playing the best, this year it very well may be Georgia and Southern Cal. Or if you insist the team must win its conference championship then replace Georgia with Oklahoma. Each had unfortunate losses earlier in the season, and USC's losses were with an injured QB and then without him while he recovered. Pete Carroll has taken responsibility for the Stanford loss for not replacing Booty. And OU's second loss was without their QB who had suffered a concussion. So if you want the best teams you should be lenient for a loss when they didn't have all their bullets.
  • The two best records - I think everyone would admit this is a slippery slope as one must play a reasonably difficult schedule, otherwise we must include Hawaii in this conversation. But ruling them out, you then have Ohio State and Kansas, but while not nearly as weak as Hawaii's schedule, neither team played a terribly difficult schedule. Ohio State's best win is arguably against Michigan but Michigan is a 3 loss team that lost to Appalachian State and got spanked by Oregon State. Kansas' schedule was so weak that they didn't have a win over a team with a winning record other than Central Michigan (8-5) and Texas A&M (7-5).
  • Whomever is at the top of the rankings - Given this, if you lose, you move down and teams simply move up to fill the slots. This would result in Ohio State and Georgia. But folks will then complain that Georgia didn't even win its division let alone its conference. But if Ohio State can benefit by not playing, why not Georgia? Of course, this approach is flawed as it assumes teams are rated correctly to start and should just move up. But if they were rated correctly then the top teams wouldn't have lost!
In the end, we are going to be stuck with Ohio State simply because the voters won't have the guts to do anything else other than move them up to #1 given the points gap there was last week. And the second team will likely be LSU which will be a travesty as they would be leaping 3 other teams, one that won their championship beating a higher ranked team (BC higher than Tennessee) by more points (14 vs 7). If the voters really believed LSU was better than Georgia and shouldn't allow Georgia to move up, they shouldn't have voted them ahead last week.

But we can hope the computer ratings keep the voters honest. For what its worth, I have a set of computer ratings I do (sorry, didn't get them on my web-site this year) and using my ratings that adhere to BCS rules (can't use margin of victory) would have a rematch of Virginia Tech and LSU, these teams having a small margin over #3 Missouri that had been #1.

I have ratings that do include margin of victory (I believe it must be accounted for, but can't reward running up the score) and those have Ohio State (despite my personal belief they don't deserve it) and Florida! But Florida has an ever so small gap over Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Southern Cal so you could take any one of those as the #2.

What this season begs for is a playoff though. There really is no way of crowning a national champion in a single game this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see a split championship this year as you could easily have differing #2s in the polls with the computers deciding who it is, and then with this season, who knows would would win leaving more questions to be answered. And the AP gets to vote and crown theirs completely separate from the BCS anyway.

On a positive note, it does have everyone talking about College Football ...

Wednesday Mar 28, 2007

March Sadness

Alas, March Madness has turned to March Sadness, at least as far as my bracket goes. My picks of Maryland, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas A&M resulted in a 0-fer for the Final 4. I guess this means I can watch the games now and just root for who I want to win rather than who I need to win...

Sunday Mar 18, 2007

March Madness

March Madness is now well upon us and my bracket isn't doing so well through the first round and a half. I only had 22 of the first 32 games and have 5 of the 8 that advanced to the Sweet 16 yesterday.

However, I try to make things a little more interesting than just filling out my own bracket by filling one out for a variety of different systems and or rankings. Specifically, I have my own computer ratings, and I also fill out a bracket for Sagarin's ratings, and the two major polls. I am much more serious about my computer ratings for college football, but make a token effort for basketball.

My computer is beating me going 25 for 32 in the first round and having 6 of 8 so far in the second. Sagarin went 25 for 32 but has 5 of 8 so far. Just picking the higher seed would have gone 27 for 32 and 6 of 8 which is leading (not too many upsets so far).

Hopefully my picks can catch up, but it isn't looking promising ...

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