Bearcats Breakfast 2.22.12

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I must start off today throwing another thanks out to Hall of Famer Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News for joining me yesterday on the podcast. If you haven't listened yet and wanted informed, real talk for 25 minutes about the Bearcats and their tournament chances, this podcast is a must listen. DeCourcy believes in the RPI, stated his case for it and, put simply, said if you don't want to own an 82 RPI don't lose to Presbyterian and Marshall at home.

Regardless of thoughts on the RPI, that's hard to deny.

Anyway, here is the link to the podcast, I highly recommend it for any UC hoops fan.

Let's eat...

--- Nowhere else to start than
with this dreaded RPI and metric conundrum the Bearcats find themselves in. While all the points DeCourcy makes in the podcast are true about understanding the system, knowing where the deficiency is coming from and needing to take care of business, there still exists a loud debate over the validity of the RPI metric nationally.

UC sits front and center in the middle of it.

Take into consideration UC's RPI number of 82. Then look at all the other new metrics made to more accurately judge the efficiency of each team: KenPom: 40, Sagarin: 42, Massey: 47, ESPN BPI: 51.

Using different forms of evaluation are fine, but when there is a 30-40 position difference between one and the other, a deeper introspection needs to be done.

If you think I'm the only one questioning the RPI because of the position it placed UC, then you can feel free to listen to these people.

--- Scott Van Pelt goes on a seven-minute rant about it on his radio show.

"I think it's the worst metric in sports," he said. "The RPI is about 30 years old. Consider this, 25 percent is your record, 50 percent is the winning percentage of the people you play and the same weight, 25 percent, is your opponents opponents winning percentage. What you do is equal weight the people you play against the people you play against get. Then think about how we throw those numbers out as if they are absolutes."

--- John Gasaway wrote the ultimate dissertation on the RPI including talking to the son of its now deceased inventor. Why does the NCAA still use the RPI?:

"My sense is the reason the NCAA continues to use the RPI in 2012 is purely institutional. It's possible that discontinuing the use of something that has become so deeply entwined with their rhythms, org chart, and identity would would cause some degree of pain and trauma in their physical workspace on the day of the discontinuance and for days afterward.
All organizations resist doing things that cause pain and trauma in their physical workspace. Usually they're compelled to do those things only by outside pressures, and the NCAA faces way fewer of those than a normal organization. Normal organizations that employ fewer people than one good-sized Wal-Mart don't have $10.8 billion in guaranteed revenues over 14 years. The NCAA gets to call the tune on this one."

--- USA Today pointed out its most recent mock selection how UC's weak RPI and non-conference schedule is hurting their resume.

Mick Cronin attempted to schedule tougher non-conference opponents, but tournaments don't just let you in because you want to go and the Big East/SEC challenge doesn't just hand you Kentucky because you want to play them at Rupp. Also, budgeting for multiple games against middle-of-the-pack leagues that bump up their asking price because they know how valuable they are to RPI manipulation isn't always the best business. That topic has been widely discussed here on this blog and I won't rehash it all again, just know scheduling the right non-conference opponents is far from a solely UC basketball decision.

Regardless, their non-conference SOS is what it is: 320.

As for if this RPI/strength of schedule formula could possibly keep the Bearcats out of the tournament, history implies it absolutely could.

One needs to look as far back as.....last year.

As Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News points out after attending the mock selection committee weekend in Indy, it was only last year that Colorado's wretched non-conference strength of schedule (272) eventually was the primary reason they were left out in favor of a Kansas State team it beat three times, including in the Big 12 tournament.

--- The RPI still owns its defenders, DeCourcy among them. Also, Seth Davis wrote his defense of the metric for Sports Illustrated here.

--- To deny the validity of the new metrics would be silly. The advance ways in which points per possession and offensive and defensive efficiency can be so accurately defined speaks volumes about the quality of play a team can ascend to -- win or loss.

The RPI doesn't know the difference between losing in overtime at West Virginia or having the doors blown off at Marquette. The same for Louisville or West Virginia teams that played Syracuse to the wire -- within a combined three points. There's no difference between those and UC losing going away to the Big East's best team.

The new metrics account for that. The easy solution would seem to be combining a number of of different ranks for a definitive number to sort by. The committee will contend that's what they do in evaluations and don't talk much about the RPI.

Still, every "vs. Top 50" and "vs. Top 100" stat they look at is based on RPI. It's impossible not to be affected by such numbers.

That's a big reason why UC sits where it does today. Granted, their RPI will improve if they win the games they should down the stretch (3 of final 4 against top 50 RPI teams). But 30-40 spots behind the current position is a devastating gap.

-- As Dion Dixon stated Wednesday, "I don't feel comfortable at all right now," he said.

Sean Kilpatrick then added: "We got to win every game from here on out."

They feel as if they need to leave no doubt. If they do leave doubt, a 30-year-old system will be there to judge them.

--- As Eammonn Brennan pointed out, arguing about the RPI can be a fruitless exercise. I sort of feel that way after sifting through all that content.

--- Cronin made an interesting point Tuesday that should play into the committee's decision. There has been a  lot of talk circulating about how the committee takes into consideration injuries to key players.

For example: Pittsburgh's string of losses without PG Travon Woodall might not count as much against them.

The coach was sure to mention JaQuon Parker's injury as a major reason UC struggled early on in losses to Presbyterian and Marshall.

He sounded like a coach speaking directly to the committee:

"If he was not hurt to start the season this would be a different team," Cronin said. "Also, our style of play would have been very different from the beginning. Anybody that was allowed into our practices could tell you that we were practicing half the time with Parker in a four-guard offense. That was a big blow for us, all you have to do is look at our team without him to see how much were were struggling even to beat some of the teams we beat early on."

If missing key players due to injury truly does matter in evaluating a team for the tournament, the absence of Parker -- the key to the four-guard offense -- should play a role for UC.

--- Bill Koch wrote about how much Cronin wants to beat Louisville. Playing against one of his mentors has always been special for the Bearcats coach -- as Koch expounds upon in the main story.

--- The importance of this game isn't lost on anyone -- especially not "The Inseperables," Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates as Dan Hoard says in this post.

--- UC's win over Seton Hall looks even better this morning after the Pirates thrashed Georgetown last night.

--- Student tickets are sold out for Thursday's game against Louisville. Overflow tickets are available for $10 at the ticket office or online.

If you need help on what to do Thursday night, the marketing department created this handy, dandy chart. For those watching on ESPN at home, Mike Patrick and Len Elmore on the call.

--- Friend of the blog Rob Dauster for Ballin' Is A Habit/NBC Beyond the Arc weighs in on the Crosstown Shootout conversation.

Some randomness...

--- There are many reasons
LeBron James is a polarizing figure. Because he's ridiculously good at basketball is at the top of the list.

--- Since I have no
future in professional basketball, I'll keep playing Madden on PS3 all day.

--- Reclusive Dave Chappelle turned up at the Warriors game the other night. All I want to hear is him confirming a comedy super tour with Chris Rock.

--- Did we forget all this Adele craze started because she raged against an ex-boyfriend, flipping the bird shouldn't be a complete surprise.

--- Is a UC alum running Google Maps now?

--- It's been a while since we broke out the 80s rock. Here you go. Happy Wednesday.

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