College Football Playoff – Final Achievement Rankings

December 7th, 2014 — 11:09am

We’re less than an hour from the CFB Playoff selection, so I figured I’d release a final version of my system. For an explanation of the system and caveats with it, see this post.

We can set the baseline team wherever we want, so I’ll show 2 different sets of rankings–vs the #10 team and vs the #25 team.

Achievement Rankings – #10 team baseline

Rk Team ExpW ExpL W L Score Score/G
1 Alabama 9.00 4.00 12 1 3.00 0.231
2 Florida St 11.49 1.51 13 0 1.51 0.116
3 Mississippi St 8.81 3.19 10 2 1.19 0.099
4 Baylor 10.04 1.96 11 1 0.96 0.080
5 TCU 10.08 1.92 11 1 0.92 0.077
6 Oregon 11.34 1.66 12 1 0.66 0.051
7 Auburn 7.65 4.35 8 4 0.35 0.029
8 Mississippi 8.66 3.34 9 3 0.34 0.028
9 Ohio St 11.78 1.22 12 1 0.22 0.017
10 Missouri 10.09 2.91 10 3 -0.09 -0.007

Achievement Rankings – #25 team baseline

Rk Team ExpW ExpL W L Score Score/G
1 Alabama 6.62 6.38 12 1 5.38 0.414
2 Florida St 9.04 3.96 13 0 3.96 0.305
3 Mississippi St 7.16 4.84 10 2 2.84 0.236
4 Oregon 9.06 3.94 12 1 2.94 0.226
5 Auburn 5.30 6.70 8 4 2.70 0.225
6 TCU 8.44 3.56 11 1 2.56 0.214
7 Baylor 8.47 3.53 11 1 2.53 0.211
8 Mississippi 6.52 5.48 9 3 2.48 0.206
9 Missouri 7.92 5.09 10 3 2.09 0.160
10 Ohio St 9.92 3.08 12 1 2.08 0.160

Obviously Mississippi State is going to be the big surprise here, but Sagarin’s ratings which I’m using, are astronomically high on the SEC West (see here). This could be too high or it could be right (I think we’d all agree the SEC West was an extremely strong division), but in the end it makes their schedule over a loss tougher than the other top contenders. Adjusting the SEC downward a bit, would give you either Baylor and TCU (no Oregon) in the #10-team version or Oregon and TCU in the #25-team version. The issue with Oregon is that the high baseline we set combined with Sagarin’s view of the Pac-12–lots of good but few great teams–makes Oregon’s schedule look relatively easy for a top 10 or even top 25 team.

I think there are good reasons for moving Mississippi State down, but this is a good reminder that teams shouldn’t be automatically excluded simply because they have more losses than another team. An extremely tough schedule can be enough to account for the extra loss.

Also, remember that conference championships, head-to-head, margin of victory, and the “eye test” are not included here, but those are things the committee could consider. Most of those things would not work in Mississippi State’s favor.

It will be interesting to see what the committee does today, both in selection and seeding. And then we all get to enjoy college football’s first playoff on the field, which promises to be exciting no matter who is selected.


Comment » | CFB Achievement Rankings, CFB Playoff, College Football, Football, team evaluation

College Football Playoff – Achievement Rankings

November 16th, 2014 — 1:46pm

Decided to dust off the ol’ blog for the new College Football Playoff system. I’m simply going to apply my Achievement S-Curve [see here] to college football to see who should be selected for the inaugural CFB Playoff this year.

Quick summary of what the Achievement Rankings are doing: determine the most deserving teams based on on-field accomplishments. From each team’s perspective all that matters is whether they won or lost, and how difficult the game was (opponent strength, home/away, etc.). For opponent strength, however, we are free to use a more predictive rating, or true strength. Simple example: the Arizona Cardinals at 8-1 against a tough schedule would come out on top of a most deserving ranking in the NFL and if they season ended today, they certainly deserve the #1 seed. However, the Broncos or Packers or maybe even Seahawks may be the best team and would come out on top of a predictive system (say, Inpredictable‘s, which has DEN #1, GB #2, NE #3, SEA #4…and ARZ #14).

There are two choices to make to utilize my system: you need a rating system to determine the difficulty of the game (mostly the strength of each opponent, but also home-field advantage, etc.) and you need to choose a baseline team to compare against. I’m going to use Sagarin‘s Predictor rating to determine opponent strength and for now, I’ll use the equivalent of the #10 team in the country as our baseline team since we are trying to determine the top 4 teams. So for each team I’ll find what record we’d expect the #10 team in the nation (think Ohio State or Oklahoma) to have had they played their schedule, and we’ll use Sagarin to determine that.

Let’s take Florida State as an example. Here’s their schedule with how often both the #10 team and the #25 team would be expected to win each game:

Loc Opponent #10 Team #25 Team
N- Oklahoma St 98% 83%
vs Citadel 100% 100%
vs Clemson 73% 58%
@ NC State 94% 79%
vs Wake Forest 100% 100%
@ Syracuse 93% 77%
vs Notre Dame 73% 58%
@ Louisville 58% 43%
vs Virginia 98% 82%
@ Miami FL 60% 45%

On average, we’d expect the #10 team to win about 8.5 games against this schedule, and the #25 team would win 7.25 on average. Since Florida State is 10-0, their score is +1.5 or +2.75, depending on the baseline team you choose.

Achievement Rankings

Here are the rankings with a #10 team as the baseline:

Rk Team ExpW ExpL W L Score Score/G
1 Alabama 6.49 3.51 9 1 2.51 0.251
2 Mississippi St 7.43 2.57 9 1 1.57 0.157
3 Florida St 8.46 1.54 10 0 1.54 0.154
4 Oregon 7.71 2.29 9 1 1.29 0.129
5 TCU 7.93 2.07 9 1 1.07 0.107
6 Baylor 7.14 1.86 8 1 0.86 0.095
7 Auburn 6.19 3.81 7 3 0.81 0.081
8 Mississippi 7.30 2.70 8 2 0.70 0.070
9 Georgia 7.32 2.68 8 2 0.68 0.068
10 UCLA 7.45 2.55 8 2 0.55 0.055
11 Ohio St 8.57 1.43 9 1 0.43 0.043
12 Arizona St 7.91 2.09 8 2 0.09 0.009

And if we lower the baseline to the #25 team, we get:

Rk Team ExpW ExpL W L Score Score/G
1 Alabama 5.28 4.72 9 1 3.72 0.372
2 Florida St 7.25 2.75 10 0 2.75 0.275
3 Oregon 6.49 3.51 9 1 2.51 0.251
4 Mississippi St 6.52 3.48 9 1 2.48 0.248
5 Auburn 4.82 5.18 7 3 2.18 0.218
6 UCLA 5.93 4.07 8 2 2.07 0.207
7 TCU 6.98 3.02 9 1 2.02 0.202
8 Georgia 6.11 3.89 8 2 1.89 0.189
9 Baylor 6.38 2.62 8 1 1.62 0.180
10 Mississippi 6.23 3.77 8 2 1.77 0.177
11 Ohio St 7.49 2.51 9 1 1.51 0.151
12 Arizona St 6.69 3.31 8 2 1.31 0.131

I prefer the higher baseline, which gives more credit to top wins and less to middle tier wins. In either system, the top 4 are Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Mississippi State, albeit in different orders. TCU, Baylor, and Auburn are next in line in the #10 version. UCLA climbs up to #6 in the #25 version, as they have a bunch of middle-tier wins (Virginia, Memphis, Texas, Washington, etc.). It’s up to you what type of resume you want to reward.

A couple quick notes:

  • College football teams play so few “connecting” games (i.e. non-conference games) that team strength ratings (like Sagarin) are very sensitive to these and conferences as a whole can move up or down the ratings based on just a handful of out of conference matchups. The SEC is certainly very strong this year, but it’s possible they as a conference are overrated due to this phenomenon.
  • This system does not incorporate certain things that others may thing they should. Some of these I’m okay with: conference championships, for instance, or recent performance. Others, I am strongly against: head-to-head and especially the dreaded “eye” test.

In any case, I’m excited to see how the whole thing plays out. College Football finally has a Playoff.

Comment » | CFB Achievement Rankings, CFB Playoff, College Football

NCAA Tournament Predictions – 2013

March 21st, 2013 — 2:29pm

With the tournament under way, I wanted to post my NCAA Tournament predictions. Things didn’t go so well for me with my Conference Tournament predictions, so hopefully the big dance will provide some sort of redemption.

I really hate the traditional bracket with normal scoring rules, as the best bracket ends up just being pretty much chalk and, well, what’s the fun in that? However, I’m guessing most people want to see my “bracket” so I’ll provide it. It’s really unexciting: only two double-digit seeds are favored by my system in the first round–11-seeds St. Mary’s and Minnesota–and there are only a couple more mild upsets along the way.

2013 March Madness Bracket

There’s a lot of information in predictive systems like mine, but this bracket shows virtually none of it. A better way to display all of the information is with advancement odds, like I did for conference tournaments. Here is the likelihood of each team advancing to each round of the tournament.

RgSdTeamRtgRkRd of 32Sweet 16Elite 8Final 4Champ GameChamp
42Ohio State96.1691.668.446.824.012.85.8
13Michigan State93.61475.244.722.
32Miami (FL)92.31990.957.235.310.23.51.2
14Saint Louis92.22077.045.413.
111Saint Mary's (CA)92.61670.036.917.
18Colorado State92.81555.514.
43New Mexico91.12482.038.514.
25Virginia Commonwealth91.32272.
15Oklahoma State90.32956.628.
47Notre Dame90.62659.
27San Diego State90.62765.331.
35Nevada-Las Vegas90.03069.328.
28North Carolina87.63655.
38North Carolina State87.13856.
49Wichita State89.93128.
410Iowa State87.03940.910.
44Kansas State85.64357.514.
413La Salle81.55942.
113New Mexico State78.17323.
213South Dakota State68.51007.
216Western Kentucky51.81556.
115Albany (NY)52.31536.
215Florida Gulf Coast48.51697.
214Northwestern State56.11403.
316James Madison48.31711.
116North Carolina A&T21.82730.

The table is fully searchable, sortable, and filterable. I added in the region and seed so you can sort and look at best/worst teams by seed and region.

For now, it’s time to finally enjoy the games.


Comment » | College Basketball, March Madness, predictive, team evaluation

Winners and Losers from Selection Sunday

March 19th, 2013 — 12:20am

Despite what many television analysts might say, seeding does have an enormous impact on a team’s chances to advance in the tournament. Every seed line you move up increases your chances of going further in the tournament. But the seeds don’t always play out that way, and so when the bracket is released we can see exactly what matchups each team will face on their path through the tournament.


Indiana has a clear path to the Final Four

The Hoosiers head the easiest of the four regions. Their 2nd round opponent will be the easiest of the 8/9 matchups (NC State or Temple). In the Sweet 16, Syracuse could provide a stiff test but each other region has a 4 or 5 seed as good or better than the Orange. And the bottom half of Indiana’s bracket is by far the easiest of any region: Miami is the worst 2-seed, Marquette is the worst 3-seed (along with New Mexico) and none of the other teams provide much of a threat. Nobody is ever a shoo-in for the Final Four, there’s too many games against too many good teams, but Indiana definitely increased their odds on Sunday with the path they were dealt.

Also benefiting from this easy bracket is 6-seed Butler, who has a relatively easy path to the Elite 8. Could they shock the world…again…and make it to the Final Four? Continue reading »

Comment » | College Basketball, March Madness, predictive, team evaluation

The Achievement S-Curve – 2013 Final

March 18th, 2013 — 9:51pm

Selection Sunday 2013 is in the books. Time to release the final Achievement S-Curve of 2013 and see how it compares to the actual bracket.

The 2013 Achievement S-Curve (click twice to embiggen):

Achievement S-Curve 130318 Continue reading »

2 comments » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, predictive, review, team evaluation

Conference Tournament Predictions – Final Results

March 18th, 2013 — 5:13pm

Last time, I laid out the method by which I would grade the conference tournament predictions.

The tournaments are over so it’s time to present the results…and it’s not pretty for my predictions.

TeamRankings: -317.53

KenPom: -317.87

Predict The Madness (me): -321.26

Yeah, the latter half of the conference tournaments did not go so well for my system. It’s not the biggest sample, but around 300 games gives us some indication. Perhaps next year I’ll grade all regular season predictions.

And now, it’s time for the real tournament. Enjoy the madness.

Comment » | College Basketball, Conference Tournament predictions, predictive, team evaluation

Conference Tournament Predictions – Update 3/14/2013

March 14th, 2013 — 1:17am

As I laid out in my introductory post, I am laying out my conference tournament predictions in order to compare them to other predictions out there. The two that I know of are Ken Pomery’s Log5 predictions and TeamRankings predictions.

In that first post, I proposed a sum of squared errors measure to score each system. After talking with multiple people much smarter and more well-versed in this area than me, I settled on using a logarithmic scoring rule. One way to grade each system’s predictions would be to apply the log to the “winning” probability of each game (for instance if the winning team was given a 75% chance to win, the score for that game would be the log(.75); if the other team were to win, the score would instead be log(.25)). However, each set of predictions simply gives the probability of each team advancing to each round, so we don’t have individual game probabilities. As a replacement, I decided to grade each team based on the predicted odds that they would go exactly as far as they did. Say Team A won their 1st round and quarterfinal games but lost in the semifinals. If the prediction said they had a 75% to make it to the semifinals and a 50% chance to win in the semifinals, then the chance that they win the quarters but lose the semis is 75% – 50% = 25%. Thus, the score for Team A is log(.25). This double counts games, but it double counts every game, so there shouldn’t be a bias. Continue reading »

5 comments » | College Basketball, Conference Tournament predictions, predictive, review, simulation, team evaluation

ACC, Big Ten, A-10, Big West, Great West, and Big Sky Conference Tournament Predictions – 2013

March 12th, 2013 — 11:43pm

Click here to check out all the conference tournament predictions.

In the final installment of my conference tournament predictions, we look at the remaining 6 conferences. They range from the Big  Ten–one of the best conferences of recent memory–to the Great West, at 5-team conference which doesn’t even receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In the ACC, it’s Duke out in front…again. NC State was a disappointment, while Miami was a surprise regular season champion. However, with Ryan Kelly back, the Hurricanes are back to doing what the rest of the ACC is used to doing: trying to catch Duke.

1Miami (FL)75.948.121.8
3North Carolina71.923.211.8
5North Carolina State83.545.222.57.9
8Boston College60.316.14.50.8
9Georgia Tech39.
6Florida State44.411.11.50.4
10Wake Forest29.
12Virginia Tech16.

The Big Ten was an absolute gauntlet this season. My predictive rankings have 6 teams from the Big Ten in the top 12. That’s right, half of my top 12 are from one conference. Throw in Iowa (27) and Illinois (32) and two-thirds of the conference are 2nd-round-caliber teams. Indiana is the class of this conference, which speaks to just how good the Hoosiers are this year. Unfortunately for them and Michigan and Wisconsin, the three best teams in the conference reside in the same half of the bracket. That gives 2-seed Ohio State a (relatively) easier path to the final and the most likely team to win the tournament should Indiana falter. Whatever happens, it should be an entertaining weekend.

2Ohio State86.054.722.6
3Michigan State65.029.38.2
12Penn State5.

The Atlantic-10 looks like a two-team tournament, with Saint Louis and VCU on a collision path toward the final. Three teams are lurking–Temple, Butler, and La Salle–hoping to crash the party. Those 5 teams may all find themselves in the big dance should things fall into place this week.

1Saint Louis80.955.533.2
2Virginia Commonwealth76.054.832.5
4La Salle46.215.06.3
10Saint Joseph's45.
11George Washington55.319.14.91.0

Perhaps the most balanced conference tournament of all this year is the Big West. The favorite, Pacific, isn’t even a 1-in-4 chance to win it all, while UCSB is the biggest longshot but still has a 4% chance to pull it off.

3Cal Poly63.434.218.5
1Long Beach State58.036.317.8
8Cal State Fullerton42.014.86.3
7California-Santa Barbara30.311.74.1

I’m not even going to say anything about the Great West, but here are the predictions.

3Chicago State63.831.3
5Utah Valley69.334.418.1
2Texas-Pan American36.214.5
4Houston Baptist30.79.53.8

It feels like every year, but once again Montana and Weber State are the overwhelming favorite to meet for the Big Sky championship. My predictive rankings actually rank Weber State as a better team than Montana (#126 versus #188), but the conference gives the #1 seed every advantage possible. The whole tournament is on Montana’s home floor, only the top 7 teams qualify meaning the #1 seed receives a bye to the semifinals and only has to win two games, and the semifinals are re-seeded so should an upset occur in the first round Montana will be the beneficiary. All of that puts the Grizzlies right at 50/50 with Weber State close by at 41%.

2Weber State86.672.740.8
5Northern Colorado51.711.63.0
3North Dakota64.913.52.8
4Montana State48.310.82.8
7Northern Arizona13.41.40.4
6Southern Utah35.12.80.2

That does it for this year’s conference tournament predictions. I’ll report back after the conclusion of all the tournaments with how my predictions fared against KenPom and TeamRankings (and maybe I’ll report some intermediate results some time this week).

Comment » | College Basketball, Conference Tournament predictions, predictive, simulation, team evaluation

SEC, Big 12, C-USA, Pac-12, SWAC, and Southland Conference Tournament Predictions – 2013

March 12th, 2013 — 7:10pm

Click here to check out all the conference tournament predictions.

It’s a weak SEC, but they do have one Final Four contender in Florida. That combination makes the Gators overwhelming favorites. Behind them are bubble teams galore, with Kentucky as the most likely to unseat Florida, but they are without star Nerlens Noel.

SdTeam2nd RdQtrsSemisFinalsChamp
11Texas A&M63.610.
9Louisiana State56.
12South Carolina64.
13Mississippi State35.

As always, Kansas is the favorite, though the field is a better bet. Kansas State tied the Jayhawks for the regular season title but it’s the 3-seed Oklahoma State that has the best chance to knock off Kansas.

3Oklahoma State59.940.819.4
2Kansas State72.931.111.2
5Iowa State57.119.28.9
8West Virginia79.710.03.00.7
9Texas Tech20.
10Texas Christian14.

In my update on potential Bid Stealers, the top two teams that could turn a 1-bid league into a 2-bid league were Middle Tennessee and Memphis. Well, Middle Tennessee already lost in the Sun Belt tournament, and while other bracketologists aren’t quite as high on their at-large chances as my system is, they do all agree that Memphis is a tournament lock regardless. The worse news for bubble teams is that the rest of the conference–led by 2-seed Southern Miss–provides enough competition to make it more likely than not that someone besides the Tigers wins the C-USA tournament.

2Southern Mississippi77.753.126.4
3Texas-El Paso76.631.610.6
4East Carolina44.310.23.7
10Southern Methodist35.

The Pac-12 isn’t as bad as it has been, but it’s still not great. Arizona, despite their #4 seed, is the clear favorite. But the rest of top 5 plus 8-seed Stanford all have reasonable shots to take the auto bid.

11Washington State46.
7Southern California64.
9Arizona State39.713.83.31.1
12Oregon State26.

A conference has to be pretty bad for the 220th-best team to be an 80% favorite. And, well, the SWAC is that bad. The only other team that could compete with Southern is Texas Southern and they are ineligible for the conference tourney. Of note is that even in a group of terrible teams, one teams stands out from the pack. Grambling is so bad this year that they are 96% likely to lose to the 6-seed and 339th-ranked (out of 347) team in the country, Alabama A&M. That’s impressive ineptitude.

2Jackson State56.332.56.8
6Alabama A&M96.010.84.2
3Alcorn State50.824.83.8
5Alabama State43.723.32.8
4Prairie View49.219.42.4

The Southland tournament features one of the best low-major teams in Stephen F. Austin. They have a 62% chance to join the big dance, but Northwestern State and Oral Roberts could both stand in the Lumberjacks way.

1Stephen F. Austin89.662.0
2Northwestern State56.921.5
3Oral Roberts81.338.513.8
5Nicholls State64.441.55.31.5
4Southeastern Louisiana43.04.01.0
6Sam Houston State66.514.84.20.2
8McNeese State35.615.51.10.0
7Central Arkansas33.

Next up: the final installment including the ACC, Big Ten, Atlantic 10, Big West, Great West, and Big Sky.

Comment » | College Basketball, Conference Tournament predictions, predictive, simulation, team evaluation

Big East, Mountain West, and WAC Conference Tournament Predictions – 2013

March 11th, 2013 — 8:57pm

Click here to check out all the conference tournament predictions.

Georgetown got the #1 seed but 2-seed Louisville is the big favorite here. Pittsburgh is actually the most likely team to emerge from Georgetown’s half of the bracket.

SdTeam2nd RdQtrsSemisFinalsChamp
6Notre Dame85.
10St. John's (NY)
12Seton Hall48.
13South Florida51.

New Mexico is the top seed and Colorado State is the best team and 2-seed, but it’s host UNLV that is the favorite to win the Mountain West tourney. Ah, the powers of home court. The final four with the three aforementioned teams plus San Diego St. should be a lot of fun to watch. All four teams are ranked between 15th and 33rd in my predictive rankings with UNLV actually the worst of the four.

3Nevada-Las Vegas86.950.034.8
2Colorado State90.245.728.7
1New Mexico76.543.016.7
4San Diego State68.135.714.6
5Boise State31.913.63.5
6Air Force13.13.10.7
7Fresno State9.81.20.2

Denver is a near coin-flip to win the WAC. Top seed Louisiana Tech and 3-seed New Mexico State should provide some stiff competition, however. Utah State has a decent shot to upset.

1Louisiana Tech89.257.522.4
3New Mexico State75.730.919.1
5Utah State70.232.38.9
9Texas-San Antonio59.
7Texas State49.
8San Jose State40.

Next up: the SEC, Big 12, C-USA, Pac-12, SWAC, and Southland tip off Wednesday.

Comment » | College Basketball, Conference Tournament predictions, predictive, simulation, team evaluation

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