Perhaps the most valuable principle that guides this weekly column is unwavering dignity. And stoic professionalism. And staunch integrity. That’s three valuable principles, but frankly, they’re all equal in value, like each member of Hansen. So you can rest assured knowing that no one responsible for this priceless content is shamelessly pimping it to industry influencers.
Okay, listen, Joe Lunardi never even responded to that, so that tweet doesn’t even count. Also, maybe I was drinking. The before-mentioned tweet is not an attempt to legitimize this hardworking column by gaining the attention of a “bracketology celebrity.” Thbbt! Whatever! Period!
What is ESPN Bracketology?
The Readers Digest Version: ESPN Bracketology is spearheaded by ESPN “Bracketologist” Joe Lunardi, who attempts to predict the March Madness Field of 64 based off (we assume) 1) ESPN RPI, 2) ESPN BPI (which is some kind of mysterious power index) and 3) Lunardi’s gut.
For the sake of the Group of Five (or in our parlance, “TheForgotten”), we’ll
half-ass analyze Bracketology each week with Forgotten Forensics to hold Lunardi’s gut to the fire.
What is Forgotten5 Forgotten Forensics?
Basically a rip off of the more well-funded Bracketology, but using less ESPN-y metrics, like Warren Nolan Live RPI, Sagarin and Kenpom to makes us look smart. Slightly dumbing down the formula: my gut.
Forgotten Forensics, February 10th Edition
More like the “Gross of Five,” am I right?
Group of Five basketball is failing fairly miserably in 2017, projected by ESPN Bracketology (and others) to grab one at-large bid. That’s disheartening, considering that Group of Five schools are supposedly bigger, better funded, and more visible than programs from “basketball boutique” conference like the A-10 and the WCC. Why aren’t G5 programs competing? I dunno. Maybe we could try some stuff to jumpstart the brand.
The G5 needs to get creative (and collaborative)
Recently, the SEC and the Big XII teamed up for a “Shoot Out,” pitting teams from both conferences even though we’re in the middle of conference play. Supposedly, coaches aren’t wild about the concept, but fans eat it up. Suddenly, the mediocre SEC and the “okay” Big XII were nationally relevant, making new rivalries and securing tons of fan bragging rights. Best of all, it gave some teams a late season opportunity to improve their RPI.
Why aren’t Group of Five conferences trying the same concept? Who wouldn’t want to see an Mountain West/CUSA Donnybrook or a Sun Belt/MAC/AAC Hootenanny? Of course, it would require G5 commissioners to suspend their egos and secret efforts to become a “Power 6” conference to make this work, but I’m told we live in a world of possibilities.
Schedule strong early
It’s tempting to front load your schedule with Alabama States and Arkansas Techs to build up your win column and boost your team’s (and fanbase’s) ego. But this season, the Sun Belt employed a solid strategy spearheaded by SBC commissioner Karl Benson. In an interview with AJC.com last year, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson outlines conference success in simple terms.
“In terms of RPI, our better teams need to have a balanced non-conference schedule that includes teams in the top 50, top 100 and top 150.”
This season, the Sun Belt’s “better teams” appear to have performed well against Benson’s balanced non-con schedule, and the result is five Sun Belt teams with sub-150 RPI (UTA, Arkansas State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Louisiana). Obviously, the Sun Belt didn’t schedule strong enough to push two teams into the NCAA Tournament. But its a step in the right direction.
Go young and hungry
The worst thing a G5 basketball program can do is hire an “old warhorse” to lead the program. What starts as a great PR move ends with underperforming, uninspired teams and a sad dismissal of a coach who collected a pile of paychecks. What the Group of Five needs are young, energetic, ambitious coaches with fresh ideas, not old reputations. Right now, the hottest coaches in the Group of Five are Division I first year hires: Allen Edwards (Wyoming), Grant McCasland (Arkansas State), Rob Ehsan (UAB) and Wes Flanigan (Little Rock). Hire the talent whose arrow is pointing up, not whose stock is falling.
Group of Five “Risers, Plungers and Hoverers”
Plunging: Akron (drops from 13 to a 14 seed)
Rising: Nevada (Enters the Bracket at 12)
Hovering: Arkansas State (15), Cincinnati (4) and SMU (7)