Sunday, December 05, 2010

Oregon State vs. Connecticut

Continuing the "using UConn to bash on the BCS" theme:

Oregon State finished 5-7. Their season is over. Revenue-wise, they should do ok. The Pac-10 has two teams in BCS bowls. However, they failed to fill the Sun Bowl spot. (The other two Pac-10 bowls would probably just cover the expenses of a team.)

Connecticut? They are 8-4, the Big East champs and are going to the BCS Fiesta bowl. A total of 6 BCS teams are going to various bowl games. With only an 8-way revenue split, Connecticut should be doing rather well.

Now, does UConn deserve a big game, while OSU stays home?

Not according to Sagarin rankings: UConn is #54, while Oregon State is #31.
Not according to similar opponents: OSU beat Louisville, while UConn was shut out.

So why is UConn bowling and not Oregon State?
You can blame the Pac-10.

Oregon and Stanford dominated the Pac-10. Even without them, you are still left with a strong conference with close parity.

Sagarin rankings of the conference teams:
Big East:  30,41,54,65,68,70,78,100
Pac10: 1,3,22,23,24,31,34,42,59,82

Both the Big East and Pac-10 have full round robin schedules. However, the Pac-10 has two additional teams, and thus two extra non-conference games. With Stanford and Oregon dominating at the top, that means two additional losses for each team.

If each Big East team had to lose to Stanford and Oregon, only two teams would be bowl eligible. Similarly, if each Pac-10 team could replace their Stanford/Oregon loses with "easy" games, then every Pac-10 team save Washington State would be bowl eligible.

In addition to the conference schedule, the Pac-10 also tends to hurt itself with hard non-conference scheduling. Oregon State was the poster child for this. Their easy non-conference game happened to be Big East member Louisville. For their other opponent, they got two top-10 teams on the road. Talk about fun!

Here are the comparisons of Sagarin rankings of all Oregon State and UConn opponents: (bold+ denotes a win)

OSU:  1,3,4,8,22+,23+,24+,34+,42 ,59 ,   ,68+,      ,82
UConn:                    30+,41+,48 ,65+,68 ,70+,73,78+,100,122+,159+,183+

OSU played 7 teams ranked higher than anyone UConn played (and won 3).
UConn played 4 teams ranked lower than anyone OSU played (and lost 1).
Hand Oregon's top four opponents to UConn in exchange for their bottom four and the Huskies could easily be 4-8 instead of 8-4.

Oregon State is a little baffling. They lost to all the top-10 teams (4) they played. However, they beat everyone between 20-40. (4) Then they lost 3 of 4 to teams ranked below 40.

UConn had a similarly odd performance. The beat their highest ranked team (#30), then went won,loss,won,loss,won,loss,won,loss between 41 and 100 before beating the three remaining teams rankings above 100.

Were OSU in the Big East, they would have had a high probability of securing a BCS bowl bid. Alas, they were in the Pac 10 and had a to stay home.

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