On Friday, January 20th, 2017, hell will freeze over, and the NCAA will meet with analytics guys like Ben Alamar, Jeff Sagarin and Ken Pomeroy. The conversation will revolve around making the tournament selection process better.
You can read about it here, but two points stand out for me.
First, they say the following about the RPI rankings the committee currently uses.
An even more powerful microscope to go with the time-honored RPI.
Time-honored my ass. The RPI is stupid for two reasons:
- It lacks a solid mathematical basis (compare it with the least squares rankings that Pomeroy uses)
- It uses wins and losses instead of margin of victory in its calculations
I discuss both of these issues in relation to college football here. Hence, RPI fails as a predictor for how teams fare in the tournament.
The NCAA should eliminate RPI from the selection process.
Second, Jim Schaus, the athletic director at Ohio State and committee member, said this:
I’m going to have to strap on in the meetings to stay up with all the calculus that’s going to be discussed, but I’m excited about it.
Calculus is so overrated in our society.
You want to hang with the quants, Schaus? Then let’s talk probability, or that no analytics ever says a team will beat another team with 100% certainty.
Want to get fancy, Schaus? Then let’s dig into linear algebra so you can understand the least squares method used in adjusting for strength of schedule.
I’m all for learning calculus. It’s just not as useful in sports analytics as probability and linear algebra.