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Calipari Got This Wrong

John Calipari is not happy with his seeding nor with being sent West.  He says he can't get a fair shake coming out of the C-USA and that BCS schools are treated differently.  True?  Well the honest answer: maybe.  But maybe not.

As a point of comparison, let's take UConn, since the Huskies are #1 in the West to Memphis' #2.

Obviously UConn is a Big East team.

The schools have two common opponents Georgetown, and both lost to the Hoyas.  UConn fell 74-63, at home; Memphis lost on the road in overtime, 79-70 in overtime.  UConn's other losses were all in-conference: two to Pitt and the epic six overtime game to Syracuse. Currently, Syracuse is ranked #15 and Pitt is #4.

We missed Cincinnati as a common opponent, but they're a pretty average team so it's not a big miss.

Memphis lost to Xavier, Georgetown and Syracuse.  Syracuse is a legitimate presence, and certainly Xavier isn't bad, but neither one is truly significant yet.

7 7 Memphis Conference USA
46 46 UAB Conference USA
53 53 Tulsa Conference USA
85 85 UTEP Conference USA
86 86 Houston Conference USA
155 155 Southern Miss. Conference USA
165 165 UCF Conference USA
171 171 Marshall Conference USA
188 188 Tulane Conference USA
221 221 Rice Conference USA
223 223 East Carolina Conference USA
267 267 SMU Conference USA

So take a look at the C-USA's RPI ratings.  It's not pretty.  Memphis hasn't lost a game in conference in a really long time, too.  But they've come pretty close.

  • UALR (Sun Belt, RPI 91) lost 59-51.
  • Tulsa lost 55-54.
  • Tennessee (SEC, 25) lost 54-52
  • UTEP lost 70-63
  • UAB lost 71-60
  • Houston lost 69-60
  • Tulane lost 51-41

Did they win those games? Yes.  Did they dominate some mediocre opponents?  Not in all cases, certainly. Actually, these are not particularly impressive wins.

To be fair to Memphis, you can pick your conference, but you can't make your conference rivals any good.  But if you're going to argue that you should be judged on what you've done, we'd say Memphis has, and fairly.

So has UConn.  Again, you can't make your conference mates succeed, but in the Big East you have to deal with Pitt, Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia and Marquette, among others.  Do we still think it's an overrated conference? Yes.  And also that even if you proved it was the best conference, it's still possible to be overrated.

Their losses, though, are to Georgetown, two to Pitt, a #1 seed, and one to Syracuse, a #3 seed.

And who would they supplant as a #1 seed? Pitt?  Louisville? UNC?  All four top seeds have faced brutal schedules and done quite well.

If Memphis really wants to impress the committee, maybe they should make their nonconference schedule thoroughly brutal.  Why not?  It's not like they're going to finish second in their own league. Why not play Pitt, UConn, Michigan State, Missouri, and other tough teams, instead of UALR. Gonzaga, Cincinnati, and Tennessee aren't bad, but they could do better. They'd also be on TV constantly and make a ton of money.

Or they could just keep complaining.