Friday, September 15, 2023

What Really Were the Best 100 College Basketball Teams Ever?

 Yesterday we posted a fun list of the rankings of teams based on how they were playing in our Value Add Basketball Game. Obviously this was based on just a few games. However, it led to questions of which teams I really calculate as the top college basketball teams in history.

The following is that list with the caveat that I only included teams in our game, which is almost all the great teams EXCEPT that I try not to create more than a few teams from each school, and try to spread them out. I consider the 1972 and 1967 UCLA teams the greatest in history, but if I were including all teams then several others from the incredible UCLA run of titles from surrounding years would surround them. The other caveat is that as we tried to get as many schools as possible at least one team, we also were biased toward teams that also had one of the greatest players of all time. Therefore we took Dominique Wilkins Georgia team rather the the slightly better Georgia team the next season that made the surprise run to the Final Four.

Here is my actual all-time ranking followed by and explanation of the components used to determine these rankings. 

The first three columns are obviously the team's ranking, and the year in which they played. 

The fourth column can range from -5 to +4, if in doing this comprehensive look, we realized a team in the game had too good a dunk rating (a minus indicates it will be adjusted down that many on the cards while a positive indicates the cards will be adjusted up. 

The next three columns we put in the same form as the season overall, offensive and defensive ratings at

Next we show you a bit of the calculations and work that went into the overall rating of each team in the game.

Factor 1 - Season SRS. The actual SRS ratings teams get are the best indicator going back to the 1950s of how good a team was. The ratings you will see if you look them up are much higher for two reasons. First, we adjusted them down enough so that the rating now indicates how many points better or worse the team is than the average great team in this game. The second adjustment we found necessary while playing teams against each other from different errors. We start with the SRS for teams that played when there were only 100 teams - but after that we subtract the 100th best team's SRS that year so it indicates how many points per game they would be better than the 100th best team that season.

Factor 2 - Post Season.

Because most fans consider teams great if they make a run in the tournament, if not actually win the whole thing, we then adjusted the SRS by post season play.

-8 is taken from the initial SRS if the team did not even make the tournament.

-6 if eliminated in the 1st round.

-4 if eliminated in the Round of 32.

-2 if eliminated in the Sweet 16.

No adjustment if eliminated in the Elite 8

+2 if they made the Final 4.

+4 if they were national runner up.

+6 if they won the national title.

In addition, if the team won both Final 4 games by double digits, they get at least 2 extra points based on total margin.

Lastly, teams get credit if the year in question was one of several years of showing they were elite. For example, Florida's SRS numbers were not that great 16 years ago, but they won consecutive national titles - so clearly they could ramp it up once it all mattered.

Therefore, we give a team half credit for any Final 4 runs the year before or after, and a one-third credit for a run two years before or after.

All of this rolls into the ratings above.

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