Conference Champions Should Not Get Automatic Bids

in sports •  10 months ago

Photo credits: Dave Hogg, CC BY 2.0

The Madness

Every March, millions of Americans are left pondering how the selection committee decided on the last four teams in and the last four teams out. This year was no different with USC, Oklahoma State, Louisville, and Notre Dame to name a few. The top four bubble teams should have made the tournament while the the #16-seeds stayed home.

Bracket image courtesy of @nicnas


A 16-seed has never beaten a #1-seed in the tournament. This year, we are graced with the presence of UMBC, NCCU or TXSO, LIU or RAD, and Penn. UMBC and Penn have their seed secure, while NCCU will play TXSO and LIU will play RAD for the final two spots. The average strength of schedule (SOS) for these six teams is right around 294. In comparison, the bubble teams mentioned above had an average SOS of just over 39. The lower a team’s SOS, the harder, stronger schedule that team had. Our bubble teams had an average of 255 stronger schedule than the 16-seed teams. The 16-seeds have not played anywhere near the amount of competition and are simply out of their league.


Diving in further, the 16-seeds have an average rating percentage index (RPI) of 182.5 while the bubble teams have an average RPI of 58. RPI is based on wins, opponents’ wins, and opponents’ opponents wins. Basically, if a team has a good record, then it will boost their RPI, but what really helps a team's rank is beating good teams who have also beat good teams. Having an average of 182.5 RPI is extremely low. The 16-seeds are a whopping 124.5 RPI ratings behind the bubble teams. The 16-seeds might have had a decent win here and there, but they simply did not beat high-caliber teams. The bubble teams did in fact have quality wins, which is why their RPI rank is significantly higher. Once again, the bubble teams do not have any wins big enough to justify being in the tournament.

What about the Cinderella story?

Everyone loves a good Cinderella story, but it has never happened with a 16-seed. The odds are stacked so far against the 16-seeds that it makes it almost impossible. These kids have never played on a stage this big or played against anyone remotely as talented. Fifteen-seeds have won, the most recent being Middle Tennessee (15) over Michigan State (2) in 2016. The lower the seed, the more upsets there has been along with Cinderella stories. Sixteen-seeds sneak into the tournament from winning their tournament but literally could have lost every game before then.

The college football playoffs has its own problems, but they do aim to get the best four teams - regardless of winning conference championships. USF is an excellent example because they were the only team to go undefeated and even won their conference, but still did not make the playoffs. They did not make the playoffs because the committee felt there were four other teams who were better than them.

College basketball should be no different. The best teams should be in the tournament regardless of conference championships. If a team has enough quality wins, their RPI will speak for itself. Get rid of the automatic conference champions which will remove these low quality 16-seeds and give actual teams on the bubble a chance.

Author: @boatsports90
Editor: @ats-david


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I actually had no idea about those stats. Especially the SOS and how that works. Its to bad the 64 best don't actually get in. Maybe if they were to do it the other way there would actually be some cinderella runs from a 16 seed but seems unlikely until they change the bracket.


For sure. It's just way too lopsided from 1-16, but I doubt it'll change
People like giving the small guys a chance


I guess.. but I mean those teams that were on the bubble who didn't get in but should have are essentially small guys too aren't they? Just with a chance at actually upsetting the #1 instead of getting blown out!


A lot of the bubble teams are from bigger conferences like the ACC. Notre Dame is a decent thing team, nothing great but would have probably beat any of the 16 seeds easily

Completely agree about the auto-bids. If the lower teams win their divisions, let them play in the NIT or something.

Also, it was UCF that went undefeated last year, they would be furious for mistaking them for their rivals!


Exactly, that's what the NIT is for, there's no reason to take up a spot in the actual tourney.

Oh shit, thanks for catching that. Hopefully they don't see this, haha

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