Monday, January 04, 2016

MBB Pre-MAC Round UP

For the pre-season, the MAC has been where it typically is on a national scale, which is right in the middle. Based on RPI, they are ranked 15th and the average MAC team has an RPI in the 170s, which is right in the middle of D1.

On the surface--overall record--all of the MAC teams have decent records.  Ten of the 12 teams are over .500 and the two that are not are 6-7.  Now, you dig a little bit deeper and I think some other things are starting to emerge.  The MAC played 25 games against non-D1 opposition...NIU and EMU played 4 and CMU played 3.  Five years ago--just as a comparison--the MAC played 14 games against non-D1 opponents.

My view is that everyone should be able to play 1.  After that, you are padding your schedule, and it isn't necessary.  The "media" at EMU were harping on this and Rob Murphy took them on, telling them that he does not have the budget to schedule better teams.  Of course, what he means is at the past, teams like his have gone on the road to play tougher competition and get better and not chosen to play soft competition to pad the record.

The thing is, the games don't count against your RPI.  They are completely if they never happened.  They also don't help your RPI, but I would guess the argument is that it is better than a tough road loss, which might be true and might not be true.  Anyway, the basic thing is that teams are attempting to create a better record.  I don't think home fans appreciate it, given the reaction I saw on twitter to the Oakland City game yesterday.

So, here is the MAC's record against teams with the following RPIs:

1-25  0-7
25-50 2-3
51-100 2-14
101-200 23-24
201-300 35-6
301-351  15-0
non-d1  25-0

It works out to an almost perfect bell curve.  And what your see is a low number of big upsets and really bad losses.

The best win in the MAC--RPI-wise--belongs to Ball State, with a win in Muncie against Valparaiso (39).  The second is the Akron win over UC-Santa Barbera (48).

Ball State also has the worst loss, at 257 to Bradley.  BG's loss to North Dakota comes in a close second at 255.

So here is the only caveat.  Pre-season records may not be what they appear to be.

Kent (RPI:49)

The Flashes are 9-4 and 8-4 against D1 teams.  However, all 4 of their losses were to top 50 teams.  Their best win was @New Jersey Tech (125).  They also won @Cleveland State.  They also have 5 wins over teams with RPI over 200.  So, the verdict here is no bad losses and no real quality wins.

EMU (101)

The Eagles are 8-5 and 4-5.  Now...they have lost to MSU and Louisville and top-100 Penn State and Oakland.  They lost Saturday to North Florida in Ypsi (RPI 132).  Their win profile is decent...with wins over Detroit and Vermont and a road win @Nebraska-Omaha.  They have only 1 win over a team with an RPI over 200.

Buffalo (102)

The Bulls are a surprise here at 7-6 and 6-6.  Of course, MAC POY Justin Moss was dismissed from the program over the summer.  They have lost to Iowa State, Duke and St, Joe's (all in the top 25 neighborhood), as well as decent losses @VCU and @ODU.  Their wins are over Vermont and Canisius and four more teams over 200.

Akron (117)

The Zips have an RPI of 117 but they would be my pick for the best team in the MAC right now.  They are 11-2 and 10-2 against D1 teams.  They also have a big win over UC-SB (neutral) and also beat Arkansas.  Their only losses are @Villanova and @Green Bay.  Their RPI is hampered by their four wins over teams with an RPI over 270.

Ohio (119)

OU is 9-3 and 8-3.  They are due to be a force again in MAC Basketball, which is their historic place.  They have losses to 3 top 100 teams--St. Bonaventure, Tulsa and Florida State.  They also have 4 wins over teams between 100-200, @Cleveland State, Florida Gulf Coast, Ark-Pine Bluff and Marshall.  This is a team without bad losses, but also no real quality wins, either.

NIU (123)

NIU is very interesting.  They have been bad for a very long time but shown patience with the coach and program.   They are 11-2, but 7-2 against D1 teams.  Their losses are @OSU and @Missouri, neither of which are bad.  They won @Idaho, which is a good win, as well as beating Wright State and South Dakota.  In addition to the non-D1 wins, they have 4 wins over teams with an RPI over 284.  Still a lot of questions to be answered with this team.

UT (200)

The Rockets were built to win last year, and this year they are inconclusive.   With the injury issues at WMU and CMU, however, they could still be the best team in the West.  They are 9-4 and 8-4.  Their losses are to Middle Tennesse (neutral), Oakland (home), @Detroit and @Loyola-Chicago, which is a pretty poor team.  Their best win is @Green Bay and they have 6 wins over teams with RPI over 230.

BG (237)

BG is 9-4 and 7-4.  BG played no teams with an RPI under 100.  On the plus side, BG has two good road wins...@Cleveland State and @Florida Gulf Coast.  The Flacons also have one of the MAC's worst losses (North Dakota, neutral floor), and five wins over teams with RPIs over 262, two of those over teams over 300.

Miami (242)

Miami is 6-7 and 5-7.  They have a win over Northeastern at Millet, which is a quality win for sure.  They also beat Wright State.  And yeah, they lost to Xavier and Dayton, both top 15 teams, but they are only 3-2 against teams over 200, including home losses to Florida Atlantic and South Carolina State.  This is a long drought for a historic program in the MAC and they might be getting better but they aren't climbing the standings.

WMU (252)

The Broncos are 6-7 and 4-7.  They were picked to finish 2nd in the West.  However, they lost their top player (Connor Tava) to a season-ending injury and the rest has been a struggle.  They also have a win over Northeastern, with quality losses to Vanderbilt and Mercer, and some less impressive losses (in declining impressiveness) to IPFW (at home), @James Madison, @DePaul, @UNC-Wilmington and Stephen F. Austin (neutral).  Three of their 4 D1 wins are over teams 290 or over.

Ball State (264)

Ball State is another typical power that has been struggling to come back after some very bad coaching moves.  They are 9-4 and 8-4.  Back in November, they picked up a huge win over Valpo, the best win for the MAC so far.  The rest of them are not so good.  They have 6 wins over teams with a 200+ RPI and a loss as well.

CMU (303)

This team is the surprise of the MAC.  Picked to win the conference, they have languished far below that.  Yes, Chris Fowler missed some games, but still, this was a surprise.  They are 7-6 overall and 4-6 against D1 competition.  In fact, they are the only MAC team without a win over a team with a 200 or lower RPI.  Their best win is over Howard, and three of their four wins are against teams with RPIs 322 or below.  Now, all their losses are against teams of RPIs 167 or below, so there are not terrible losses either.  For whatever it is worth, they had winnable neutral court games against Weber State and Milwaukee and lost both while Fowler is out.  I'd be surprised if CMU doesn't contend

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