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Updating Villanova Basketball’s NCAA “Report Card”

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The Cats are still undefeated, but how good are all those wins?

NCAA Basketball: Hofstra at Villanova Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this season we learned that the NCAA selection committee would be making a change in the selection and seeding process. Starting this March, game locations will be combined with RPI ranks when evaluating how strong a team’s resume is. This change doesn’t fix the problems many analysts have with the RPI when it comes to seeding the tournament, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

So now that 2017 is coming to a close, I figured it would be a good opportunity to see what Nova’s resume looks like to date, and how it compares to the other schools in contention for #1 Seeds. I’ll warn you now (as if you don’t know already) that the RPI sucks and is going to look a little wonky at this point in the season. However, it’s what the committee uses, so it’s what we should look at.

Let’s start with Nova, currently ranked 3rd in the RPI behind Duke and Xavier (say whaaaaaat!?!?) For a full description of how the new “Quad System” works, be sure to check out our full breakdown here. The simplified version is that road games are recognized as harder to win than home games, with neutral court games landing somewhere in between. “Quad 1” designates the most challenging games for a team, while “Quad 4” designates the least challenging. Here’s where the Villanova Wildcats stand after their win at DePaul:

Villanova’s NCAA Tournament Profile

Location Quad 1 Quad 2 Quad 3 Quad 4
Location Quad 1 Quad 2 Quad 3 Quad 4
Home 0-0 0-0 3-0 3-0
Neutral 2-0 2-0 0-0 0-0
Away 1-0 0-0 2-0 0-0
Total 3-0 2-0 5-0 3-0

Villanova has five wins that fall in the “Quad 1&2” categories. The Quad 1 wins include Tennessee(8), UNI(38), and at Temple(11). The Quad 2 wins are Western Kentucky(87) and Gonzaga(55). As a quick note, I counted Lafayette and Hofstra as “Home” games despite the RPI listing them as neutral. My assumption is that will get fixed by the end of the season.

Now that conference play is underway, Villanova will start getting a lot more Quad 1 and Quad 2 games. In fact, three of Nova’s next four opponents are all in the RPI Top 20, which basically locks them into Quad 1 for now. But that uptick in Quad 1 games is going to be the same for most teams competing for #1 seeds, so the wins and losses still matter the most.

Speaking of those other teams, let’s look at how the rest of the AP Top 10’s resumes look with the new Quad system:

AP Top 10 NCAA Tournament Profiles

Team Quad 1 Quad 2 Quad 3 Quad 4
Team Quad 1 Quad 2 Quad 3 Quad 4
Villanova 3-0 2-0 5-0 3-0
Michigan State 1-1 2-0 6-0 3-0
Arizona State 3-0 1-0 2-0 6-0
Duke 3-0 3-1 5-0 1-0
Texas A&M 2-1 4-0 2-0 3-0
Xavier 2-1 1-0 7-0 3-0
West Virginia 2-1 2-0 1-0 6-0
Wichita State 0-1 2-1 3-0 5-0
Virginia 1-1 1-0 5-0 4-0
TCU 2-0 2-0 4-0 4-0

As of today, Villanova, Duke, and Texas A&M have the best looking overall resumes. They each have at least five wins against the Top 2 Quads, and none of them have more than three games in Quad 4.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wichita State and Virginia each have only two wins against the Top 2 Quads, and they each have four or more games in Quad 4. Virginia can probably improve with the level of competition they’ll face in the ACC, but Wichita State (with zero Quad 1 wins) is going to have a tough time making a push for one of the top spots.

The Quad System isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement over using just the RPI to look at teams. And because this is the “new” metric, it’s likely to carry some more weight, or at least get more attention. While there are still many other factors that the NCAA will use in determining seeding, it’s good to know that as of now Villanova is in strong position to claim a top seed come March.