About strength of schedule and nuance

While strength of schedule is certainly a valid metric useful in evaluating how good a team is, it’s not a be all and end all.  By that, I mean you shouldn’t confuse a team playing a weaker schedule in and of itself with being lesser.

The perfect example of that this season is (duh) Alabama.  Allow Bill Connelly to explain.

Alabama is an easy 11-0 so far, having won its games by an average margin of 35.6 points (35.2 with a 50-point cap on each game). Per their statistical profile, they have finished each game with a 100 percent post-game win expectancy, which is either unprecedented or nearly so.

Screenshot_2018-11-20 Résumé S P+, a better CFB strength of schedule ranking

Have the Crimson Tide played a rigorous schedule? Not really. If the average top-five team — by which, I mean literally the average of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, and Oklahoma, the top five teams per S&P+ — played Alabama’s 11 opponents a countless number of times, it would have won about 89 percent of those games.

In other words, 100% > 89%.

Regardless, Bama continues to have done more with its ain’t-played-nobody schedule than anyone else. Even with the 50-point cap, and even with a lackluster performance against The Citadel, the Crimson Tide have still defeated their opponents by an average scoring margin that is 10.3 points per game higher than the nameless, faceless top-fiver would expect.

Notwithstanding the schedule, Alabama is not just good, but better.  Granted, come playoff field time, that likely won’t matter if the Tide run the table all the way through the SECCG, but it’ll be interesting to see if folks try to throw shade on Alabama’s SOS if Georgia finds a way to win the conference title again.  (You know Danny Kannell will.)

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32 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Stats Geek!

32 responses to “About strength of schedule and nuance

  1. Clemson and Georgia are the only 2 teams that have the talent to match up with the Tide. If Bama beats both on the way to the national championship, they will be one of the all-time great teams.

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  2. ASEF

    4 conference champs with 0 or 1 loss, plus Notre Dame, would make it impossible for any team, even Bama, to get in with a L in that final game. Last year required two 2 L champs and ND, (including some ugly blowouts) to get there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Greg

      If the dawgs beat Bama, look for the committee to drop Michigan out of the top 4 and put Bama in it’s place….assuming Michigan wins out.

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      • Macallanlover

        Emphatic no. Period. Why do people think this way? Tin foil shit? The only conceivable excuse would be because Michigan has already lost to another playoff team under that scenario. But then, Bama would have lost to a playoff team as well, at that point. Just no logic to support it, and would risk bringing every one out of the woodwork to attack their credibility, with justification.

        Bama fans may think they are invincible and a playoff cannot exist without them, I take the opposite view, I think the Committee would love to get this Bama monkey off their back and leave them out.

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        • Greg

          Just my opinion, just as yours is an “emphatic no”. I certainly do not believe they should be in there in that scenario I described….and I certainly thought they should not have got in a year ago.

          But I believe they will put in the best 4 teams in their view of things….and if they do that, they will view Bama as a better team than Michigan….same records, SOS and etc. Again, not the right thing in my mind, but I believe the would definitely do it.

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          • Macallanlover

            My “emphatic no” doesn’t mean it isn’t an opinion, nor that you aren’t entitled to one that is different. Means I feel very strongly about mine, and would be willing to put substantial money on it. Major point of difference with last year: it wasn’t a potential rematch last year, and not only would the rematch be almost immediate, it would be coming off a game with playoff positions at stake plus it was played at a neutral field.

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            • Greg

              “Isn’t an opinion”??….didn’t take it that way, I took it as your opinion, which was my point…we both have different opinions. Not a bad thing, but if that scenario I described does play out, I am hoping you are right (Bama not a finalist). No reason we should have to beat Bama twice imo.

              I just see it the other way, if it does play out…the committee will find a way to get them in. They will justify it as they are one of the best 4 teams.

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        • ASEF

          People who see the playoff as a “best 4, period” are going to see this differently than people who see the playoff as “whatever best fits the narratives in play out there”. Alabama’s defense is in the same class as Michigan’s; Michigan’s offense isn’t in the same class as Alabama’s. Forget the number cruncher product out there saying this Alabama team is one of the best this year – those products tilt towards one of the best in the past 10 years.

          I am not arguing for Alabama, but I am not going to mock people who see them as one of the best 4, even if the SEC Championship game goes Georgia’s way. I get it. I see exactly where they are coming from.

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          • Macallanlover

            I think the “best team factor” argument is really more what drives the arguments about expanding the playoffs. I feel it will always be impossible to satisfy the “best team” concept and is a fantasy. There will be legit arguments about that, regardless of the playoff concept, or size. The objective is for having a true National Champion, as we have in the other NCAA sports, or MLB, or NFL, etc., etc. That is all we can achieve; the other is a goal that will will be argued and with “yeah, but” discussions. Pursuing the wrong objective, imo, is why we have missed on getting the playoffs right.

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            • Greg

              Which is part of what I am saying, under the current format….the best 4 teams get in (subjected view). The hell with the conference championship games, they do not seem to matter. I would not be surprised it see them discontinued at some point.

              Not a perfect system, but still better than what we had before. I’m all for moving it to at least 8 teams or if it stays the way it is….you do not qualify if you can’t win your conference or have a conference championship game.

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        • Greg P

          Yep, absolutely no way Michigan gets left out if they run the table at this point. Winning at Ohio State and only loss at unbeaten ND in a close game. There’s more of a chance of Bama staying ahead of UGA after a close loss in the SEC title game than staying ahead of Michigan. Michigan is ranked a spot higher than us and they don’t have a common opponent with Bama where Bama won by 29 and they lost by 20. I don’t think the committee would take Bama over an SEC champ in Georgia, but they’d put a lot of thought into it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Greg

            Which is part of my argument on the conference championship games. If you are not using it to help decide the best 4 teams….why do some have to play it while teams like ND get to skate free??

            I also made the point on here before about TCU, the year they closed the regular season they were the number 3 team in the country (’14?). I believe it was Ohio State that jumped them. They got left out….the reason, no conference championship game for TCU back then.

            The committee is not consistent, for that reason I think they would put Bama in…..much like last year.

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        • Well, if you go by the best team factor discussed below, which do you honestly think is the better team? If they met ten times, how many do you think Michigan would win? Given that answer, compare there records and conference too. Not saying I would want it to happen but it’s not unreasonable to come up with the Tide as the better team.

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        • I’ve heard this line of thinking a few times as well and it’s simply wishful thinking. It also doesn’t put in context what happened last season. Namely, OSU won a bad Big 10 with a terrible loss.

          This example Michigan has won a decent Big 10 and their only loss would be on the road to a playoff team. There’s no justifiable reason to pick Alabama over a conference chanpion with no bad losses.

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      • smgattorney

        I do not disagree with you that after Alabama wins big over Auburn and we beat Alabama there will be committie members wanting Alabama in, but the risk is that those members will still want ND, Michigan and Clemson and take Alabama over us under the “body of work” standard.

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  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    I have to say that, ceteris paribus, a Bama loss to UGA plus a 12-1 Michigan means Bama does not make it. There can be several rationales, but that would be the result.
    OTOH, my head says we’re elephant chow, but my heart and my tuchus will be in the chair hoping and cheering.

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  4. JasonC

    With SOS, the 2 biggest factors are 9 game conference schedules or having a regular Power 5 OOC game (like us with Tech). Bama did play Louisville, who turned out to be wretched so that didn’t help much. Clemson has South Carolina, but also play TA&M this season otherwise, they would be in worse shape than Bama since the ACC looks pretty craptastic. Kudos to Texas for playing more conference games AND signing some Power 5 matchups without cupcakes (excluding their own conference cupcakes like Kansas).

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    • Macallanlover

      Clemson has had the easiest path of all the contenders, followed by ND. Both play a lot of ACC games. Coincidence? I think not. But the ACC is taking 1 1/2 of the 4 spots with these two not having to play each other on championship Saturday. Needs to be fixed, or stop giving ND preferential treatment.

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      • Greg

        To me, Notre Dame not playing the extra game makes them having the easiest path (as things stand) followed by Clemson.

        Me, I think ND should be eliminated from consideration for not playing a CCG.

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        • I agree with you. If I was on the committee I would automatically give them 0.5 to 1 losses to take into account not playing a conference championship game,

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  5. CB

    “(You know Danny Kannell will.)”

    As will I because I wouldn’t want to play them twice.

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  6. 69Dawg

    Oh come on everybody knows that the ND is the most over hyped thing in college football. Alabama or Clemson will destroy them. Michigan and tOSU are the next biggest over hyped teams. Remember the “Committee” has a bunch of new faces bringing a bunch of new preconceived notions about what is best. The only sure thing is we won’t be there if Bama beats us. We will be time warped in New Orleans with OK again.

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  7. Muttley

    What the hell is a “post-game win expectancy”? Certainty that the result will not be overturned? Sound like the most ridiculous attempt at a stat ever, but I’m all ears.

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