Friday, February 20, 2015

An NCAA Selection Process For The 21st Century

Three Top 50 wins. An RPI of 36. An SOS of 41. A 12-3 road/neutral record.

Get ready. The college basketball dialogue is about to morph into an endless string of incomplete metrics meant to summarize a team's worthiness to be one of 36 at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.

The current selection infrastructure is ripe for mockery, though it's not the RPI's fault. That formula was designed in a different era, when computing power was some trivial fraction of what it is today. For some reason, despite endless evidence to support better metrics, the NCAA has maintained its reliance on that shortcut formula as its method of categorizing team performance for its hard-working selection committee.

Of course, all that an incomplete metric does is breed mistrust in statistics, providing people with an excuse to substitute even more flawed observational anecdotes to support whatever pre-existing biases with which they walked in the room.