In the spectrum of opinions on the legitimacy of mid-major hoops there are two extremes. At one end is the view that any time a mid-major beats a major, it was because the major underperformed for some reason. In other words, the mid-major gets under-credited. At the other end is the view that any time a mid-major beats a major, they have just become deserving of an at-large bid. Sane fans fall somewhere in between.

Which brings me to Wichita State. (Note: We know the MVC shouldn’t be held to mid-major status anymore, but as long we are beholden to Nantz and Packer on Selection Sunday, that will be the perception.) The general view of the Shockers seems to be tilted towards the latter end of the spectrum. They are being hailed as a legitimate top-ten team, and I’m not talking about the polls. I mean, some respected people seem to really think they are one of the ten best teams in the country and could realistically finish their season in the Georgia Dome. The proponents of WSU base this on four impressive road wins. Let’s break down those four wins in order of their impressiveness.

at LSU. No argument here. It may well hold up as the best non-conference road win in the country.
at Syracuse. I’m still up in the air on this one. I think people are putting a little extra stock in the Carrier Dome, even though the Orange were just .500 in Big East play there last year. This will probably end up being the type of win that other bubble teams covet in March, but I’m not convinced it’s anything more, yet.
at George Mason. This may not end up as the type of road win that bubble teams covet. This isn’t the Mason team of last January through March. Maybe they’ll improve and make this win look like a quality one, but as of now it’s nothing special. I realize it’s special for Shocker fans given what happened last season. But in terms of proving they’re top ten team, it doesn’t mean much.
at Wyoming (really at Casper, 100 miles from the Wyoming campus).  OK, seriously, nobody is going to put a win at Wyoming before the committee and expect that to have any influence on seeding or selection. Just stop citing this as anything meaningful.

So great, WSU has four road wins. One of them is absolutely fabulous. Another is pretty nice. The other two hardly represent top-ten type play. Look, it’s early in the season, and we don’t have enough to go on to say that Wichita State is or isn’t a legit Final Four threat. In fact, the way the season has started, I don’t know that we have enough evidence that any particular team is a legit Final Four threat.

So I can accept the claims that the Shockers are really good, just don’t pretend like the wins at Fairfax and Casper provide any proof of it.

And now some e-mails…

Thanks for the Oregon/MSU defensive analysis.  A fresh look to an old statistic. I often wondered about the “held” phrase in opponent shooting percentage.  Did Miami defense “hold” the pistons to 38% shooting in last year’s playoffs, or did the Pistons just miss easy shots?

Keep up the good work.


That’s the thing about any stat – it reflects what both teams are doing. Over the course of 30 games, the effects of what the opponents are doing tends to even out. So when we look at a particular team’s stats, we can have some confidence that the team is responsible for those figures much more than the opponents collectively. However, over 7-10 games, that isn’t always the case. We should be a little more discriminatory in what stats we consider meaningful in mid-December.

Do you or does anyone else rate referees for bias and accuracy—especially Big Ten basketball referees?


I don’t know about anyone else, but this is something I’ve thought about. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be hard to get the data. The problem is that it would be hard to prove anything, I think. There’s no way to prove accuracy from box score data, and I really doubt there’s bias out there, but that would be impossible to prove, too. I’d just be curious who calls the most/fewest fouls, which is about all we could do. Even then, if a ref gets stuck doing a few more Memphis (or in reverse, West Virginia) games, the results would be unfairly skewed.

Your system is in total disarray since you have Univ.of Oklahoma #18 – and Oklahoma State #59. 

It should be the other way around.  You have OU beating OSU both times this year.  This is the first year, that I can remember, that it is obvious to everyone in the state of Oklahoma that OSU should beat OU both games.  And my memory goes back 30 plus years.

You really haven’t done a good job at all on auditing these rankings for sensibility.  You really do have OU and OSU switched, or mixed up, and reversed.  That should be most embarrassing to you.  The Okla.State fan websites are having a good laugh at your rankings. 


This is a representative e-mail of the many I got this week from the fine fans of Oklahoma State. Really guys, I hope nothing but the best for you all. I was on the Mario Boggan bandwagon way back when. If I had my way, I’d rig my system to put you guys #1. (Not your team, mind you, just the fans. It would be a power rating of fans.) The system is sort of hard-coded now, and there’s nothing I can do really. Go Pokes!