In July, there was an article put out by CBS Sports senior writer Matt Norlander. An article that created quite the stir around the college basketball universe. But, caused an even greater stir around the Western Athletic Conference. It was the introduction of the WAC resume seeding system.
What is this new seeding system? Is it good for the league? Does it take away from conference play?
Those were just a few of the many questions that came about.
How is this fair if teams play unbalanced schedules? What happens if teams can’t get quality non-conference opponents on the schedule?
And so the questions kept coming.
In Norlander’s article, a pair of paragraphs stood out.
“In what’s believed to be a first in the history of college sports: a conference will seed its postseason tournament based on advanced analytics”
And then the follow-up paragraph.
“This means that, in the WAC, it’s possible a team could finish with the second-best league record but end up seeded, say, fourth or fifth. Conversely, a team with the eighth-best record but with a more impressive résumé of wins could be rewarded for its degree of difficulty and earn a higher seed than its place in the traditional conference standings.”
The algorithm the WAC is using for the seeding system is also creating some confusion.
Some thought, because Ken Pomeroy came up with the algorithm, that KenPom rankings were in play.
Others, like myself, thought that a team’s NET was part of the equation.
And others are under the impression that wins and losses are not going to determine seeding for WAC Vegas.
But, as I have dug into this seeding system a little more, I have come to learn a few things.
First, that this seeding system does not determine the regular season champion.
Second, the seeding system is based off of the NET of opponents.
Third, that each Division I game on the schedule has a value of 1. And through the algorithm, a team can earn or lose points based on the outcome of games on the schedule.
Fourth, the value from each game can change based off what those same opponents do throughout the season.
Fifth, that road wins are so much more valuable than home wins. Sixth, don’t schedule cupcakes because they don’t benefit a team in any way.
Seventh, home losses, especially Quad 3 and Quad 4 losses are going to hurt significantly.
And eighth, conference play still matters a great deal because you still have to play your way into the WAC Tournament. The 12 teams that make it to WAC Vegas come from results in conference performance only. So, UT Arlington could be 10th in the resume seeding system but 13th in the WAC standings and miss out on the WAC Tournament.
Let’s flip that around. UT Arlington could be 10th in the WAC standings but 13th in the resume seeding standings. This means UT Arlington would go to the WAC Tournament but be the 12-seed because of its resume.
According to Associate Commissioner Drew Speraw, the WAC Tournament field is seeded based on who has the best overall resume. The reason for this is to give those teams a higher probability of winning the auto bid, which could earn the league a better seed in the NCAA Tournament.
There has been a lot of frustration and confusion since the seeding system began on Dec. 5. Considering the schedules some teams had vs. others around the WAC, it’s understandable. But, now that WAC play is upon us, the best thing to do is win. Take care of things at home. And then go get some road wins in a league that is extremely deep.
Give the seeding system some time. 2022-23, with 13 teams who don’t all play each other twice, may not be the best gauge for the system. But, if at some point it results in the WAC getting a higher seed, then it is a win.