It’s time for another installment of Villanova’s Quad Goals, an ongoing series in which we track the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament resume. If you’re looking for more information on the NET and the rest of the ranking methods for the tournament, check out Rankings 101.
We’re Back! For the first time in the 2019-2020 season it’s time to take a look at Villanova’s NCAA Tournament resume. We’ll break down what opportunities remain for the Wildcats, how strong they’re looking so far, and what’s up next. But first let’s talk about why it took us a month into the season to return: The NET.
Starting last season, the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) became the primary ranking used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee for seeding. It’s not the only source data they use, but it is first and foremost. So what’s in the NET? We’re not exactly sure, but we have a basic idea. And by basic idea I mean a convoluted flow chart that doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know.
On top of being the main ranking system used, the NET is also used for the “Quad System” that this series is named after. If you’re not familiar, the Quad System is a way to weight games based on whether they were played at home, on the road, or at a neutral site. The breakdown using the NET looks like this:
New NCAA Quad Metric Using NET Rank
On top of that, the Quads are further broken into a Top Half and a Bottom Half. It’s not 100% clear how much weight is given between these further breakdowns of the quad system, but it’s probably safe to say it’s better to have a top half wins. But until that distinction becomes more clear, for now it’s safe to just worry about which Quad a win falls under.
So now that we’re all caught up on how the NET works, let’s take a look at where Villanova stands today. As of today, Villanova is ranked #24 in the NET. By all accounts, that’s around what was expected. The Wildcats have been good not great so far this season, having won all the games they were supposed to while losing their two games against Top 25 competition. In fact, as far as the NET is concerned, Villanova should have lost their games to now #2 Ohio State and #6 Baylor.
Doing what you’re supposed to do is fine, but it’s not what helps you move up the NET. And more importantly, it doesn’t help you earn a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. While we’ve only had the NET for one season, one metric seems to stand above the rest in the eyes of the Selection Committee: Quad One Wins. If you reference our handy-dandy chart above, that means Top 30 games at home, Top 50 games on neutral courts, or Top 75 games on the road. So far this season Villanova lost both of their opportunities at Quad 1 wins (Baylor and Ohio State). That leads us to the good news and the bad news.
Good News: Villanova has 11 Quad 1 games remaining on their schedule, starting with #1 Kansas on Saturday. That means there’s still time left for Villanova to pick up some quality wins that will build their NCAA resume. As of today, Villanova has more Quad 1 games on its schedule than Quads 2-4 combined. So no worries at all, everything is great, and you should probably stop reading now if you’d like to remain 100% optimistic.
Bad News: Not all of those games will be Quad 1 by the end of the season. The Quad system is solely based on what has happened, and we’re only a month into the season. That means not only are some of these rankings a little over/under inflated, but they’re probably going to change significantly over the next three months. For example, I don’t expect Butler to remain at #4, nor will St. John’s finish at #65. Yes, there is a reverse side of that coin, like Seton Hall probably finishes above #58, but for the most part I’d expect more of Villanova’s opponents’ rankings to move down, not up. But don’t worry, that’s all the bad news, there couldn’t possibly be anything worse.
Badder News: Almost all of these eleven Quad 1 games are on the road. As it stands now, only Kansas and Butler at home are Quad 1 games. The rest are all road Big East games which will be tough wins for this young Villanova team that’s trying to win with shootouts as they wait for their defense to gel.
Taking all of that into account, it’s not crazy to think that Villanova may walk away with five Quad 1 wins. That’s not awful, in fact that’s exactly how many Quad 1 wins Villanova had last season when they finished 5-7 in Quad 1 and 26-10 overall. Of course, that team also got a 6 seed and lost in the first weekend.
So what does that mean for Saturday? Tickets to the game between are available on StubHub. Does Villanova need to beat #1 Kansas to salvage their non-conference schedule and get their first Q1 win of the season? The simple answer is... no. There’s still a long way to go this year, so it’s certainly not time to hit the panic button when it comes to Q1 wins. Yes, the committee does look at how a team did in the non-conference, but don’t forget that this isn’t Villanova’s last non-con game. They still play on the road against a solid Temple team that should count as a Q1 game. And while UConn won’t be a Top 30 team this year, they should still land squarely in Q2 territory. If Villanova goes 10-3 in the non-con and all three of their losses are to teams competing for 1 and 2 seeds, that’s not going to keep them from getting a Top 4 seed in the tournament.
The challenge if they don’t beat Kansas is that they’re going to need to win on the road in the Big East. Last year, that was a bit easier when they relied on two veteran players. But the road is an especially hard place for young teams to win, and the Big East does have some really good teams this year that are going to cause the Wildcats trouble this season. Still, this is a good team, and it’s not unthinkable for them to go better than .500 on the road in conference and then make some noise in the Big East Tournament. Bottom line, beating Kansas would be great, but it’s by no means necessary for Villanova to start climbing the Q1 ladder.
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for, GIFs of players dancing.
Villanova Basketball’s Quad Goals
The best thing the Wildcats have going for them right now is that the upcoming schedule is loaded with Q1 opportunities. Now they just have to reach up and grab the brass ring.
Here are some thoughts I have on Nova’s Resume:
- Nova’s best win to date so far is a Bottom Half Q2 win over Mississippi State on a Neutral Court. The good news is that should improve over time. The Bulldogs are probably a little underrated right now, but I also don’t see it becoming Q1 by the end of the year.
- For all of you Big 5 haters out there, consider this. St. Joe’s is the only Big 5 school currently ranked lower than Providence. And there’s a non-zero chance that’s how we end the season too.
- If Villanova can’t pull the upset over Kansas this weekend, their next chance at a Q1 win will likely be January 4th at Marquette. I say likely because it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Marquette to go on a multi-game losing streak. Too soon?
- The Wildcats continue to be one of the few elite level schools that challenge themselves in the non-conference. They are one of only four schools in the NET’s Top 25 that have a Top 25 SOS and have played two or fewer Q4 opponents.