Thursday, November 02, 2006

Louisville & West Virginia are Both Overrated

Louisville's victory over West Virginia earlier this evening gives them a clear shot at making the national title game but does anyone really believe that either team can play with the rest of the top 10? The real problem with the BCS system is not how the points are calculated but rather how the voters rank teams. Why do close losses against powerhouses move teams down in the rankings? How is it that a team that would be an underdog against every other top 10 team can wind up playing in the Championship game?

Voters in the human polls just don't place enough emphasis on strength of schedule. Going undefeated is not enough to deserve a spot in the national championship game. I would rather see the national championship game feature teams that both have two losses coming out of power conferences like the SEC, Big 10 or Pac 10 than Boise State or Louisville. Schools that play in weak conferences have to schedule big time non-conference games if they want to be taken seriously.

Before playing each other this evening neither Louisville nor West Virginia had played a current top 25 team and both had only beaten 1 top 50 team. I just don't believe that unproven teams deserve such high rankings nor do I believe that playing each other demonstrates much about the victor.

According to CBS Sportsline's rankings West Virginia and Louisville have played the easiest schedules of any of the other top ten teams. (Note: I used a value of 120 for all non D1 teams)
  1. 39.33 USC
  2. 45.33 Tennessee
  3. 49.08 Michigan
  4. 49.42 Florida
  5. 51.08 Cal
  6. 55.42 Texas
  7. 55.58 Auburn
  8. 57.17 Ohio State
  9. 58.92 Louisville
  10. 62.25 West Virginia
Yet, these rankings hide the benefit that both teams strength of schedule rankings get from playing each other and Rutgers, which is also clearly overrated at number 12. Removing tonight's game and the Rutgers game from Louisville and West Virginia's schedule drops their average opponent's ranking to 69.3 and 73.0 respectively.

One could argue that it isn't fair to drop the top two teams from Louisville or West Virginia's schedules but the rest of the top 10 averages 58.73 average opponent ranking even after dropping their top two teams. Thus, it seems clear to me that this wider gap actually demonstrates how much weaker Louisville and West Virginia's schedules really are.

Here are a couple more ways to look at the data:

Average Opponent Ranking Less the Worst Two Opponents
  1. 51.30 Louisville
  2. 53.00 West Virgina
  3. 39.86 Rest of the Top 10
Average Opponent Ranking Less the Worst Two and Top Two Opponents
  1. 62.38 Louisville
  2. 64.13 West Virginia
  3. 47.78 Rest of the Top 10
Number of Games Played Against Top 50 Opponents
  1. 4 Louisville
  2. 4 West Virginia
  3. 6.5 Rest of the Top 10

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