Team ranking concepts: It matters WHO you play and how much you beat them by
Teams deserve to be rewarded with a proper ranking based on their performance!
Traditional team ranking systems primarily consider the number of wins or winning percentage of a team and their opponents. Thus, polling and ranking systems believe that an undefeated team is better than a one-loss team … and that a one-loss team is better than a two-loss team … and so on. This shortcoming wrongfully assumes that a win over Bowling Green is the same as a win over Ohio State. These systems do not consider “WHO” you play, which is the essence of strength-of-schedule.
SportsMetriX Provides a Ranking Solution that Accounts for WHO You Play
The SportsMetriX algorithm uses score margin to capture its relational information between teams, but it provides a threshold so teams don’t abuse it by running up the score. This balance arrives at an accurate ranking that minimizes the impact of blowouts and encourages the scheduling of tougher opponents.
First, the SportsMetriX algorithm uses score margins to predict the probability of winning a specific matchup, like the probability of Illinois beating Syracuse. Instead of ranking teams based on individual matchups, our system predicts how teams would perform against other team’s schedules. In other words, how would Illinois do against Syracuse’s schedule – and how would Syracuse do against Illinois’ schedule? This is how our system forms a true ranking measure that determines the team that has the best season. At the end of the year, the team with the “best season” is the best team. SportsMetriX’ team ranking technology can be applied to any sport from high school to the pros.
You can Rank Your Own Leagues!
With our Sports Ranker software, you have the best team ranking system on the planet at your own fingertips. You can rank your intramural, park district, travel, club leagues. Go to Purchase Software for more information.
2003 NCAA Football Results
In the 2003 NCAA football season, how many teams would have performed better than Georgia with their tough schedule? Prior to their bowl win, SportsMetriX ranked them #4 with 3 losses while the BCS ranked them #12. Two of their losses were to #1 LSU and another loss to Florida (who beat LSU). Other polling and ranking systems rated Georgia lower because of their three losses. This cost Georgia a major bowl berth. Instead of automatically assuming that an undefeated team is better than a one-loss team … and a one-loss team is better than a two-loss team… and so on, the SportsMetriX system considers how other teams would have performed with Georgia’s schedule. Every team on the planet would have lost both those games to LSU. With this in mind, Georgia was worthy of a #4 ranking because they only had three losses with their extremely difficult schedule. By the way, SportsMetriX correctly picked LSU and USC as #1 and #2. Oklahoma should not have played in the Championship game.
2009 NCAA Football Results
Below is a graphical interpretation of the NCAA football rankings of 2009 for Arkansas and Utah (before the bowl games). The green dots represent the SportsMetriX rankings of the teams they beat and the red dots are the rankings of the teams they lost to. This graph shows that five of Arkansas’ wins were better than Utah’s best win. Against the top 55 teams in the country, Arkansas went 5-5 while Utah went 0-3. Which is the better team? SportsMetriX ranks Arkansas at #16 and Utah at #42. The BCS ranks Utah at #23, while Arkansas is not ranked.
Because traditional polling and ranking systems rely heavily on winning percentage, Arkansas received a lower ranking because of its five losses. Arkansas is supposed to lose to Alabama, Florida, and LSU. If Utah played Arkansas’ schedule, they would probably lose 7 games. If Arkansas played Utah’s schedule, they would have a chance to play in the championship game if they could get past TCU and Oregon. This is not so unrealistic because Arkansas almost beat Florida and LSU. Based on their performance, Arkansas should be ranked 26 spots higher than Utah.
These examples demonstrate that your interpretation changes dramatically if you account for the strength of your opponent. If you don’t account for SOS, Georgia’s 3 losses are considered “bad”. If you account for who they played, Georgia’s 3 losses are considered “good”. Productivity metrics can be misinterpreted too. You may think you O rebounded well, but you actually just shot poorly and faced a weak rebounding opponent. Your interpretation affects the development of your players, preparation of your team, and the game plan tailored for each opponent. The difference between winning and losing is just a matter of interpretation.