Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rethinking the TAPE Index

Even though the Tournament is still going on, I'm already in the process of putting together the projections for the 2015 season. If all goes as planned, I'll have them up and ready to go on the Tuesday morning following the National Championship game.

Next year poses a bit of a problem for my system, though. From the beginning, the TAPE ratings and most of the other adjusted stats here have been indexed to a hypothetical average BCS conference team. The thinking behind this was that teams from the six BCS leagues who finished with .500 conference records were generally right around the bubble cut line for the NCAA Tournament, so a TAPE rating better than .500 (or 9.0) would indicate a Tourney-caliber team.

For the first six years, that was simple enough: I just included all the teams from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pac-12 (or Pac-10), and SEC in the index. When the Big East split last summer, I made the decision to include both the new Big East and the American Athletic Conference in the index. Doing so added some strong teams who hadn't been in the index before--Butler, Creighton, Memphis, and Xavier--but also meant that the likes of Central Florida and Houston would be included as well. In this case, the good outweighed the bad.

For 2015, though, there would be a tough choice as to whether or not to consider the AmCon worthy of inclusion in the index. Louisville and Rutgers are leaving on July 1 for the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, and they'll be replaced by East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa. Are those three teams really worthy of consideration as major basketball teams? Probably not. On the other hand, should UConn, Memphis, and Cincinnati be considered mid-majors?

The solution is to abandon conference affiliation as a consideration for inclusion in the index altogether. Instead of indexing everything to an average of an ever-changing number of power conference-affiliated teams, from this point forward each season's ratings will be based on an average of the top 100 teams over the preceding 5 years. The change has already been made for the current season's ratings as of this morning's update.

The following teams (with their 5-year ranking in parentheses) are included in the index for 2014:

Akron (84) Duke (3) Marquette (19) Oklahoma (61) Texas (24)
Alabama (53) Florida (15) Maryland (49) Oklahoma St. (46) Texas A&M (51)
Arizona (30) Florida St. (42) Memphis (31) Old Dominion (90) Tulsa (80)
Arizona St. (59) George Mason (91) Miami (FL) (37) Oregon (78) UAB (74)
Arkansas (98) Georgetown (12) Michigan (20) Penn St. (76) UCLA (39)
Baylor (25) Georgia (92) Michigan St. (8) Pittsburgh (13) UNLV (36)
Belmont (64) Georgia Tech (82) Minnesota (26) Providence (87) USC (73)
Boston Coll. (94) Gonzaga (10) Mississippi (58) Purdue (16) Utah St. (50)
Butler (44) Harvard (100) Mississippi St. (95) Richmond (68) UTEP (81)
BYU (14) Illinois (35) Missouri (9) Saint Louis (71) Vanderbilt (47)
California (33) Illinois St. (85) Murray St. (86) San Diego St. (28) VCU (45)
Cincinnati (48) Indiana (52) N.C. State (56) Seton Hall (65) Villanova (22)
Clemson (43) Iona (93) Nebraska (77) South Florida (89) Virginia (63)
Cleveland St. (99) Iowa (75) New Mexico (29) Southern Miss (66) Virginia Tech (67)
Colorado (72) Iowa St. (55) North Carolina (11) St. John's (83) Washington (21)
Colorado St. (79) Kansas (1) Northern Iowa (69) St. Mary's (32) Washington St. (62)
Connecticut (18) Kansas St. (17) Northwestern (70) Stanford (57) West Virginia (23)
Creighton (54) Kentucky (5) Notre Dame (34) Syracuse (4) Wichita St. (40)
Davidson (88) La Salle (97) Ohio (96) Temple (38) Wisconsin (7)
Dayton (60) Louisville (6) Ohio St. (2) Tennessee (41) Xavier (27)

For the 2015 season, Boston College, Cleveland State, Davidson, George Mason, Illinois State, and Mississippi State will drop out of the index and be replaced by Boise State, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Princeton, St. Bonaventure, and St. Joseph's.

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