Analysis: Will selection committees really make a difference?

paulb

5/9/2020

(Renton, WA) On Friday we ran the story on the WIAA moving to a selection committee system for all team sports and not just football. The move was made due to the positive feedback the WIAA had received from the coaches and AD’s from the football model and will now include boys and girls soccer, volleyball, baseball, fastpitch and of course boys and girls basketball.

But the question needs to be asked and that’s has it and will it make much difference in the final results? The ESN research team kicked it into over drive and studied the numbers and did a comparison of the 2-years the football selection committee has been in operation to the last 2 years of the RPI system that was used by boys and girls basketball.

We compared stats and the analysis is 100% mathematical with 0% judgement or opinion until our conclusions. These are the facts:

The analysis is of the past 2 season of Football, Boys and Girls Basketball. At the end of the results we have calculated we will give it an overview and conclusion.

This analysis focused on pretty obvious factors to compare. We first looked at the number of seeds 1-8 advancing to the final 8 of each tournament. We then looked at the number of 1-4 seeds in the final 4 and the number of 1-2 seeds in the finals. We looked at each tournament bracket of the past 2 seasons and it offered 96 final 8 opportunities, 48 final 4 and 24 final 2 for the Basketball Tournaments.

There was an exception for Football where we only included 80 top 8 counts. The reason is the 1B tournaments do not have a 16 team tournament so they begin with 1-8. The same 48 and 24 counts were used for the Final 4 and 2. We will look at each sport independently and also a combined basketball vs football snapshot.

Boys Basketball

Final 8: There were 73 top 8 seeds out of a total of 96 for a 76% success rate
Final 4: There were 28 top 4 seeds playing in the Semi-Finals out of 48 for a 58% hit rate
Final 2: Only seven (7) 1-2 seeds played for the title out of 24 chances for a 29% rate.

Perfect Final 1: 4 #1 Seeds won the title out of 12 or a 33% rate.
Perfect Final 2: (seeds 1-2 in the Finals): 1 of 12 at 8%
Perfect Final 4 (seeds 1-4 in final 4): 2 of 12 at 17%
Prefect Final 8 (seeds 1-8 in final 8): 1 of 12 at 8%

Top 4 Playing in the State Championship: 15 of 24 a 63% rate
Top 4 teams playing each other for the State Championship (Example: 2 vs 4 or 1 vs 3 etc.): 3 of 12 a 25% rate

Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 4: 20 of 48 at 42%
Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 8: 53 of 96 at 55%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 4: 8 of 48 at 17%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 8: 23 of 96 at 24%

Girls Basketball

Final 8: There were 79 top 8 seeds out of a total of 96 for a 82% success rate
Final 4: There were 33 top 4 seeds playing in the Semi-Finals out of 48 for a 69% hit rate
Final 2: 14 top 1-2 seeds played for the title out of 24 chances for a 58% rate.

Perfect Final 1: 5 #1 seeds were Champs this is a 42% rate.
Perfect Final 2: (seeds 1-2 in the Finals): 4 of 12 at 33%
Perfect Final 4 (seeds 1-4 in final 4): 1 of 12 at 8%
Prefect Final 8 (seeds 1-8 in final 8): 2 of 12 at 17%

Top 4 Playing in the State Championship: 18 of 24 a 75% rate
Top 4 teams playing each other for the State Championship (Example: 2 vs 4 or 1 vs 3 etc.): 7 of 12 a 58% rate

Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 4: 15 of 48 at 31%
Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 8: 50 of 96 at 52%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 4: 3 of 48 at 6%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 8: 17 of 96 at 18%

Basketball Combined

Final 8: There were 152 top 8 seeds out of a total of 192 for a 79% success rate
Final 4: There were 61 top 4 seeds playing in the Semi-Finals out of 96 for a 64% hit rate
Final 2: 21 top 1-2 seeds played for the title out of 48 chances for a 44% rate.

Perfect Final 1: 9 top seeds won out of 24 for a 38% success rate
Perfect Final 2: (seeds 1-2 in the Finals): 5 of 24 at 21%
Perfect Final 4 (seeds 1-4 in final 4): 3 of 24 at 13%
Prefect Final 8 (seeds 1-8 in final 8): 3 of 24 at 13%

Top 4 Playing in the State Championship: 33 of 48 a 69% rate
Top 4 teams playing each other for the State Championship (Example: 2 vs 4 or 1 vs 3 etc.): 10 of 24 a 42% rate

Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 4: 35 of 96 at 36%
Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 8: 103 of 192 at 54%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 4: 11 of 96 at 11%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 8: 40 of 192 at 21%

Football

Final 8: There were 67 top 8 seeds out of a total of 80 for a 84% success rate
Final 4: There were 33 top 4 seeds playing in the Semi-Finals out of 48 for a 69% hit rate
Final 2: 16 teams with the 1-2 seed played for the title out of 24 chances for a 66% rate.

Perfect Final 1: 8 of 12 #1 Seeds were State Champions this is a 67% clip
Perfect Final 2: (seeds 1-2 in the Finals): 5 of 12 at 42%
Perfect Final 4 (seeds 1-4 in final 4): 3 of 12 at 25%
Prefect Final 8 (seeds 1-8 in final 8): 1 of 10 at 10%

Top 4 Playing in the State Championship: 20 of 24 a 83% rate
Top 4 teams playing each other for the State Championship (Example: 2 vs 4 or 1 vs 3 etc.): 9 of 12 a 75% rate

Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 4: 15 of 48 at 31%
Seeds 5-16 playing in the Final 8: 41 of 80 at 51%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 4: 3 of 48 at 6%
Seeds 9-16 playing in the Final 8: 13 of 96 at 16%

Overview

We know this probably looks like a bunch of gobbly-gook numbers so let’s examine what they mean:

Category #1 was Final Categories Final 8, 4 and 2. We simply counted the number of seeds 1-8 that played in a quarterfinal game for the final 8. Same for final 4 we counted the 1-4 seeds and the final 2 we counted only the top 2 seeds. In this category the higher the percent the more successful the system was in seeding the brackets.

Category #2 was the Perfect Final. We wanted to see how precise the systems were so we counted the number of #1 seeds actually won the Championship. Then we counted how many 1 vs 2 seeds played for the title, how many 1-4 seeds were in the semi-finals together and the 1-8 seeds in the quarterfinals.

We were a little surprised that no one took a 0 in any of those categories as this really is a very difficult task to get perfect. Although there were no perfect brackets from the quarters to the Champion which would have been seeds 1-4 advancing from the quarterfinals to the semi-finals, the 1-2 seed to the finals and the 1 seed winning it all. The closest was this year’s 3A football bracket but #5 Kamiakin beat #4 Bethel 21-20 and then #2 Eastside Catholic defeated #1 O’Dea 20-12 for the Championship.

Category #3 were the Top 4’s. The first one measured the number of 1-4 seeds playing in the State Championship and then how many Title games included only 1-4 seeds. In all of the first 3 categories the higher the percent the more successful they were in seeding the teams. This is opposite in the final category.

Category #4 was Seeds. In this category we looked at the success rate of the lower seeds. We measured the 5-16 seeds and then 9-16 seeds and their participation rate in the Semi-finals and Quarterfinals. In these cases the lower the percent the better.  We also found that in football no 14, 15 or 16 seeds have advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2 years of the selection committee. In fact only a total of 8 10-13 seeds of 80 chances have advanced at a 10% clip. Boys Hoops had 17 10-14 seeds out of 96 advance at a 18% rate with an 11, 13 and 14 seed all winning a State Title. The girls had just 11 of 96 advance at an 11% rate.

Conclusions

We understand this is only 2 years of data so there still could be some wild swings in numbers but that is always the case in every tournament or bracket system. But we conclude that the committee system is superior to the RPI criteria system. The ability to take in information that can not be measured or considered by hard and fast rules of the RPI make the committee system better equipped to create the final product.

We will say though that this should not be the end of the RPI system, for the most part the RPI’s can greatly assist the committees when they evaluate all the teams that have qualified to their respective tournament.

The significant numbers that literally jump of the page that show the superiority of the selection committee system include the whole goal of the seeding process and that is your #1 seed wins the Championship. Football did this correctly 8 times compared to 5 and 4 out of 12 chances. We also believe Category #3 the Top 4’s was really significant especially the Top 4 seeds that played each other was at an incredible 75% rate. This literally means 3 out of 4 years if you are not in the top 4 you will not play for a Championship. The Combined Basketball stat was just 42%.

It was also clear that the RPI system struggled dramatically with the boys tournaments over the girls. The boys only had 4 #1 seeds win their tournaments out of 12 but also only had 7 of 24 1-2 seeds even play for the Championships or a 29% rate. The girls percent was literally double at 58%. Football also had 83% of the top 4 seeds playing for a Championship while the girls had a 75% rating and the boys at 63%.

Football was also strong on the other end of the bracket with only 31% of the 5-16 seeds getting to the final 4 and just 6% or 3 of 48 9-16 seeds getting to the top 4. Girls basketball matched the 5-16 seeds getting to the final 4 at 31% and the the 6% as well but boys basketball was nearly disastrous with 42% in the Final 4 and the 9-16 at 17%.

Although the boys basketball numbers certainly dragged down the girls when we combined the numbers but football led or tied every category across the board except the perfect 8 where the girls had 2 and football just 1.

In our view the question of whether or not this is worth the extra work and time it will take to first get volunteers to be part of each committee for each team sport and each classification? Will it be worth gathering all those volunteers to train them prior to their seasons and then getting together on a Sunday to hash out the seedings? It sure appears so after just 2 years. If the clear success that has happened in football is any indication then it should greatly help in a fairer bracket for all these tournaments.

Now one thing that is difficult to take out of committees is the personal bias. Committee members are not there to try to get their team in the best position but they also have to overlook league and region biases. This is extremely difficult to do since we are all human. If there was a concern over human bias and that this person will only favor teams from this area etc, the football experiment has proven that it can overcome those human frailties.

In conclusion there is a reason there is not one perfect bracket in any football or basketball tournament over the past 2 years that we looked at and there were 34 (not 36 again because 1B football only has an 8 team bracket and begins in the quarterfinals. But even with that they only had 1 perfect bracket out of 2). It is important to remember that brackets are set up for the higher seed or the favorite to win and when an upset occurs it changes the entire complexity of the bracket. But for most that is the exciting part when the unexpected occurs.

We will continue to watch these numbers and see how the seeding committees do as they move forward, Football is off to a tremendous start so it certainly looks to be the correct move by the WIAA at this time.

 

www.elisportsnetwork.com

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