Saturday, February 2, 2019

The "new" quadrant: Q1-A

The NCAA recently added some additional information to their "team sheets": splitting so-called "Quadrant 1" and "Quadrant "2" into two subcategories each (Q1-A, Q1-B; Q2-A, Q2-B). E.g., here's the relevant portion of Wisconsin' current team sheet from a few days ago:

As you may or may not be able to make out, the "Q1" games are split up, with the top (Q1-A) games defined as top 15 at home, top 25 neutral, and top 40 on the road.

In practice, the committee has always privileged these kind of extremely good wins, sometimes to a practically incalculable degree. The best recent example of this is Arizona St. making the tournament last year, almost exclusively on the strength of their road win over Kansas.

For this reason, my "T-Ranketology" algorithms in their various forms have always given a lot of extra credit for these kinds of wins. Specifically, in calculating the "resume" rank that goes into the current algorithm, the Q1-A wins are worth 20 points, Q1-B wins are worth 10 points, and Q2 wins are worth just 3 points. These values were derived experimentally to get the best match I could to actual committee decision-making, and I think it does a pretty decent job.

So it is definitely true, as David Worlock tweeted, that breaking out this new category of Q1-A wins is a way to show that beating Duke at home is better than beating Furman on the road (both of which would fall into the broader Quadrant 1 bucket). But I will be interested to see how much this is used by the committee this year. In particular, this could be used as a way to delegitimize mid-major resum├ęs.

Before the quadrant system was formalized last year, the team sheets denoted top-50 wins and top-100 wins. Experimentally, it also put a lot of extra weight on top-25 wins. In each of these categories, it didn't matter where the games were played. The quadrant system attempted to fix that, by essentially redefining the top 50 category to include road games against the top 75. That was a positive development for non-power teams because it gave them more realistic opportunities to amass these top-quality wins.

But there was resistance in the trenches, I believe. Specifically, people just don't *believe* that beating a team like Furman on the road should be anywhere near the same category as beating Duke at home (much less on the road). Expanding the top category to include more games against the likes of a Furman made that top category seem over-inclusive. Even a bit ridiculous.

The formal delineation of a new top category is a response to this unease, I think. The very best category of wins—the ones the committee really tends to care about—shouldn't include games against the likes of Furman.

We'll see how this plays out. Right now, the "Nitty Gritty" breakdown doesn't include the Q1-A as a separate column, so the impact may remain limited. But if we see the committee using Q1-A records as justification for their seedings in the top 16 dry run coming up, I think we'll know that behind the scenes they are the real wins to care about.

In any event, I've broken out Q1-A wins on my site pretty much wherever the quadrants are mentions. Enjoy.

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