The Bzdelik Line 2012 – Futility Rules the Day
Last year, when I tracked the worst teams in the history of the six major conferences, I discovered that the truly bad teams, defined as those finishing below 150th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, consistently shared one attrribute, inexperienced sides. That isn’t to say that inexperience definitively leads to a poor team, as John Calipari’s revolving door of one and done’s can attest (340th in experience, 2nd in Kenpom currently), but rather it is something that sets the bad and really bad teams apart in the absence of an uber-talented team. This year, the trends have remained the same in terms of experience being a common factor on all of the bad teams. However, an additional trend is now clearly evident, which, had last year been the last set of data points, could have been written off as an anomaly, but can no longer be ignored. There are more really bad teams than ever before. Basketball fans in the Pac 12, ACC, SEC, even the Big 12 and Big East have increasingly complained about the lack of quality from the teams at the bottom of each respective conference. Unlike in many cases, where fans can be prone to overreaction, I htink the average fan may actually be underestimating just how far the overall level of play has dropped off this year based on the number of teams that should provide easy victories, even on the road.
For each year since 2003, I have tracked the number of major conference teams falling outside the top 100, 150, and 200.
See this chart below:
A combined 4 teams had finished outside the top 200 teams in 8 seasons from 2003-2010: Penn St in ’03 and ’04, Oregon St in ’08, and Indiana in’09. Then 4 teams achieved the feat last year alone, and 6 teams reside in that territory to this point this season.
An average of 3 teams finished outside the top 150 from 2003-2008, with a high of 4 over that stretch. Then 5 teams in each of 2009, 2010, and 2011. This season: 10 teams with just 4 weeks before Selection Sunday. Are there common threads among them?
To begin to answer this question, I looked back at the 5 teams outside of the top 150 last year to see where they stand:
Wake Forest (251) – 213th in 2012, experience ranking – 266. Jeff Bzdelik appears primed to have his 4th team outside the top 150 in his fifth year as a BCS head coach. Even more impressive: he’s the only coach to hit that mark at multiple schools, and he’s now done it multiple times at each of Colorado and Wake barring a miracle turnaround over Wake’s last 5 games. Hence, the name of the line.
LSU (227) – 79th in 2012, 275 in experience. Kudos to Trent Johnson and LSU for turning it around this year, the only team among those outside the top 200 in 2011 slated to avoid finishing outside the top 150 in 2012.
Auburn (214) – 171 in 2012, 99th experience. Auburn is on pace to finish outside the top 150. Of note here, this would make them the first team to do so with an experience rating better than 200th, as they are currently at 99th by putting an average of 1.9 years of experience per player on the floor.
Depaul (202) – 166th, 262nd in experience. Depaul has maintained its status as the Big East doormat through a neverending string of transfers that never allows it to put a talented experienced squad on the floor. This would mark the 4th straight year that Depaul finished outside the top 150, two under Jerry Wainwright, and two under Oliver Purnell.
Oregon St (160) – 90th, 260th in experience. While not great for many programs, this is actually something of a banner year for Oregon St under First Brother-in-law Craig Robinson. They are on pace to finish above .500 overall for the first time since almost all of its players were born. And if they can hold on, it will also mark their first top 100 finish in the Kenpom era (and most likely since well before that).
So, yes, we have a few repeating teams in this distinguished company. But that doesn’t account for the 10 total teams in 150+ range this year. Who are these other teams? Check back into the Bzdelik Line on Wednesday or Thursday for a rundown of the remaining teams, including one that’s giving Mr Bzdelik’s 2011 Wake Forest squad a run for their money as lowest ranked BCS team of this era.