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KenPom Bracketology v. The NCAA Selection Committee

We know that the bracket we ended up with and the bracket KenPom would have given us are two different beasts, but how did Pomeroy’s numbers do at projecting the field? Would the tournament be better for using them?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

When we started with KenPom Bracketology, it was largely because I was curious as to how the bracket would look if the Pomeroy rankings were used to populate it, and I felt like some of you would be too. I don't think any of us were laboring under the delusion that it would function as a legitimate "bracketology" in the sense that it would be in any way predictive of what the committee would ultimately do.

With that said, let's see how KenPom Bracketology did at predicting what the committee would ultimately do. The geographical nuances of filling a bracket are currently lost on me - though I may try to bone up on those in prep for doing this next year - so I'm going to be comparing the s-curves to see where teams fell in KenPom's estimation as opposed to where the committee placed them.


Both systems agreed that Kentucky is the best team in the tournament and that Hampton is the worst. Remarkably, they also each placed UC Irvine at 54th. KenPom and the committee placed 22 teams within two spots of one another on the s-curve and 32 teams had no more than 4 spots between their positions on each system's curve.

Biggest slights by the committee

The top three here are Florida, Stanford, and Vanderbilt. Pomeroy had each of them in the field - albeit just barely - and the NCAA did not. Beyond that, Texas and Ohio State were both served better by the Pomeroy rankings, with Texas 22 spots higher and OSU 19. These are both teams that played hard schedules and lost close games; Pomeroy recognizes the process while the NCAA focuses more on the results. Other notable underseeds on this side of things include Stephen F. Austin (placed 14 slots lower by the committee), Wichita State (13) and BYU and Utah (11 each).

Biggest slights by KenPom

Obviously there are three teams the committee had in that Pomeroy didn't, and those are Indiana, Purdue, and Oregon. Interestingly, the three teams Pomeroy had in at odds with the NCAA were all on the bubble, but these three teams were all well up the s-curve. Make of that what you will.

Maryland and Arkansas both got double-digit boosts from the Selection Committee - 17 and 14 spots on the s-curve, respectively. Five of the six Big East teams were also placed higher by the NCAA than by KenPom, St. John's moved up 9 places, Georgetown 8, Providence and Villanova 6 each, and Xavier 2. Only Butler came up the other way, dropped two places lower on the official s-curve than they were on Pomeroy's. LSU and Wyoming were also 8 places higher, while Baylor, Iowa State, and EWU were pushed up 7 slots.

What does this tell us? Probably not a good deal. We already knew the basic differences between Pomeroy's methods and those used by the committee. I think we'd all agree that some hybrid of the tournament we got and the tournament straight KenPom would give us would be the best mix, but if you had to choose just one, which would you rather watch? Vote in the poll and then tell us why in the comments.