For those who may not know, last week ESPN released “Prestige Rankings” for NCAA College Basketball teams from 1985 to the present. After reading through their methodology and scoring system, I decided to come up with my own rankings that I believe are more indicative of a team’s prestige.
For starters, I am working on making the rankings go back to 1985, but for now I have only done back to 2000. So these will be rankings for this decade only. I like the idea of having more recent rankings though, because many programs do change significantly over an extended period of time.
Now for the scoring system; I decided to only base my rankings off of success in the NCAA tournament. This is because I believe the "Big Dance" is the ultimate goal for every Division I college basketball team, and since it includes all divisions, the tournament really encompasses everyone.
The scores that I give the teams for each year is essentially just their rank for how they finished in the tournament. For example, the champion is ranked No. 1 and the play-in game loser is ranked No. 65.
However, since I was assigning no score to teams that did not qualify for the tournament, I needed to make higher scores more valuable. So I inverted the rankings; the champion receives a score of 65 and the play-in game loser receives a score of one.
Also, everyone losing in the same round receives the same score. There is no discrepancy based on seed. Here is the detailed scoring breakdown:
Champion: 65 points
Runner-Up: 64 points
Lose in Final Four: 62 points
Lose in Elite Eight: 58 points
Lose in Sweet Sixteen: 50 points
Lose in Second Round: 34 points
Lose in First Round: 2 points
Lose in Play-In game: 1 point
Now to the rankings; here I have included the team and total score for all years since 2000. I am only showing the top 50 programs, which coincidentally is everyone scoring over 100 points (which is, on average, losing in the first or second round every year).
For the decade, Duke is the top ranked team. This is consistent with ESPN’s rankings, even though they go back fifteen more years.
There were 198 teams that had a score (made the tournament at least one year). For comparison, there are currently 340 teams in Division I.
I plan to post the rankings going back to 1985 shortly, and then I will make comparisons to the rankings ESPN got.
For readers too lazy to click the link at the top of the page, ESPN’s rankings take a lot more into account than just tournament success.
One thing I noticed just by reading the rankings was that teams from smaller conferences seemed to be getting more credit than they should have because they had seasons with large win totals. I will go into this issue more in future articles.
I also will analyze the scores by conference and find the top teams in each conference as well as the top conferences. I was planning on saving this analysis for the rankings back to 1985, but can easily analyze these more current rankings as well if there is interest.
Also, please let me know if there are certain teams you are interested in to a more detailed extent, or teams you are interested in that may have fallen outside of this list.