Digger Phelps and Jay Williams selected BYU’s blind resume before they knew it was BYU as a team that should without a doubt be in the NCAA Tournament. Quickly after learning that it was BYU’s name behind the resume, they back pedaled like a defensive back to try and talk their way out of it. Doug Gotleib has been very vocal about his feelings toward BYU’s tournament seeding. He doesn’t think they should be in the tournament at all, let alone a 10-seed. Gary Parrish published an article on CBSSports.com where he also explained why BYU shouldn’t be dancing at all. Basically, if you are an expert on a major sports channel, you had an opinion about why BYU didn’t deserve the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon -5 is free money #URWA
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) March 18, 2014
But my question is this, why all the BYU hate?
Is it because of the season ending knee injury to Kyle Collinsworth? Surely that is in the back of everyone’s mind, but Joel Embiid is hurt and Kansas is still a 2-seed. Injuries hurt, and BYU will certainly hurt without Collinsworth, but eliminate them from the tournament completely? I don’t think so.
The argument could certainly be made that BYU has bad losses. But, on the other hand, don’t BYU’s wins make a pretty compelling argument?
It was a pretty uneventful Monday night at my house, so I decided to cram some numbers to see how bad BYU’s losses really were. I knew there were some ugly games, but it couldn’t be as bad as the talking heads were making it sound.
BYU, St. Joseph’s, Stanford and Arizona State make up the 10-seeds in the NCAA Tournament this year. Nobody is saying anything about St. Joe’s, Stanford or Arizona State not belonging in the tournament, but BYU is a hot topic. So, how do their numbers stack up?
Losses against teams with an RPI ranking 100 or worse:
Okay, so the heads are right. BYU has some pretty bad losses. But all of their losses combined aren’t awful. Here is the average RPI ranking of the teams that each of our 10-seeds lost to:
St. Joe’s- 58.5
Arizona State- 51.5
Again, BYU’s numbers are a little worse than the other three teams. But, this is where it starts to get interesting. BYU losses are the most disappointing of the four 10-seed teams, but overall, it could be argued that their wins are the most impressive.
Wins against teams with an RPI ranking of 99 or better:
St. Joe’s- 10
Arizona State- 8
Surprisingly, St. Joe’s has the most wins against quality teams. But, BYU has more than Stanford and just as many as Arizona State. No, that probably doesn’t completely make up for the bad losses, but it’s certainly a start.
All four teams have very similar win/loss records, so let’s look at the total average RPI ranking for each team’s wins:
St. Joe’s – 141.2
Arizona State- 135.4
Again, BYU’s (though marginally) wins are more impressive than the other three teams. Losses should certainly count against a team, but do wins not mean anything? Do we care more about who a team loses to than who a team beats? If you listen to the mainstream media, that’s what they want you to do, but personally, wins are more impressive than losses are unimpressive.
Also, something needs to be said about the way that a team challenges themselves. Anybody can win at home, but how many teams can go to someone else’s house and win? And nearly equally as important, how many teams are willing to try?
Number of non-conference games away from home courts:
BYU- 7 (2-5)
St. Joe’s- 4 (4-2)
Stanford- 5 (3-2)
Arizona State- 5 (3-2)
And what kind of caliber are these teams playing away from home? Here are the average RPI rankings for non-conference games played away from their home floors:
St. Joe’s- 175.3
Arizona State: 125
BYU clearly had the more impressive non-conference schedule between the four teams. BYU went out and played quality opponents and tried to earn their way into the tournament. The rest of these teams seemingly went out and played a weak non-conference schedule in an effort to keep them from playing their way out of the tournament.
The numbers are pretty close. Depending on which number you care about the most and how you spin it, you could make a very compelling argument that BYU has the most impressive NCAA Tournament resume of the four teams that are 10-seeds.
In summary, BYU is every bit as deserving as any other team to play in the Big Dance. No, their resume isn’t perfect, but it is just as nice as any of the other teams that are ranked where BYU is ranked. And, unless you want to punish Kansas for losing Embiid to injury, you can’t use the argument that an injured Collinsworth means that BYU isn’t a tourney team.
Last but not least, Tyler Haws is the 6th leading scorer in the nation. BYU has a scorer, they have an exciting brand of basketball, and they also have an impressive tournament resume. Hats off, Selection Committee, for ignoring the talking heads and putting the right teams in the tournament.