Friday, December 16, 2011

The NCAA Earns Some Points Back With Adjustment Of Home/Away SOS Multiplier

Last year I got on the NCAA a little bit for what I thought was a poorly conceived addition to the men's basketball strength-of-schedule calculation. Last year, the raw strength-of-schedule value for home games was multiplied by 0.6. The raw SOS value for away games was multiplied by 1.4 (neutral site games receive no multiplier). The reasoning for this was sound, it's more difficult to win on the road than at home, so road games are 'tougher', but 1.4/0.6 was far too drastic.

For example, a game against an otherwise undefeated team (winning percentage of 1.000) at home would have only provide a SOS of .500 (for ease of calculation, I'm assuming a .500 OOWP contribution). This would have been equivalent to a game on the road against a team with a 0.286 winning percentage (again, assuming a .500 OOWP).

Here's the math (opponent's winning percentage and resulting SOS in bold):

HOME: 2/3 x 0.6 x 1.000 + 1/3 x 0.6 x 0.500 = 0.500
NEUTRAL: 2/3 x 1.0 x 0.500 + 1/3 x 1.0 x 0.500 = 0.500
ROAD: 2/3 x 1.4 x 0.286 + 1/3 x 1.4 x 0.500 = 0.500

So, the NCAA was saying that a game against a team that's 20-0 (at home) is slightly less difficult than a game against a team that's 6-14 (on the road). That's obviously ridiculous.

Thankfully, they've adjust the multiplier for this season. I definitely don't have a problem with it existing, but if you're going to include it, make sure it makes sense. For this season, the road multiplier is 1.25 and the home multiplier is 0.75. I personally think it's still too extreme, but it's much better than where we were last season.

Here's some more math:

HOME: 2/3 x 0.75 x 1.000 + 1/3 x 0.75 x 0.500 = 0.625
NEUTRAL: 2/3 x 1.0 x 0.688 + 1/3 x 1.0 x 0.500 = 0.625
ROAD: 2/3 x 1.25 x 0.500 + 1/3 x 1.25 x 0.500 = 0.625

Now we're at the point where a home game against a perfect team is 'equivalent' to a road game against an average team. Still seems like too much, but at least one could attempt to justify this system.

For me, I'd like to see something closer to 1.15/0.85. That would look like:

HOME: 2/3 x 0.85 x 1.000 + 1/3 x 0.85 x 0.500 = 0.708
NEUTRAL: 2/3 x 1.0 x 0.812 + 1/3 x 1.0 x 0.500 = 0.708
ROAD: 2/3 x 1.15 x 0.674 + 1/3 x 1.15 x 0.500 = 0.708

So while I don't think the new .75/1.25 system is perfect, it's nice to see that the NCAA was willing to review their process and make it better. Kudos for that.

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