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Morning Coffee Would Rather Stay At A Holiday Inn Express

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Ewwww. When the Texas men's basketball team traveled to Norman this week, head coach Rick Barnes was assigned a special suite at the team hotel. The Bob Stoops Suite. According to Barnes, the room was a garish shrine to Mr. January, with pictures and crimson memorabilia covering the room. After Texas' 64-54 win, the ever-quotable Rick Barnes joked with reporters, "We were pretty intimate."

A 3-seed heading down the home stretch. For the second straight year, the NCAA got together a team of analysts and former coaches for a mock March Madness bracket selection. Best of all, they once again had an employee live blog the happenings. Texas was among a pool of eight teams considered for a #2 seed, but the committee eventually slotted it in on the #3 line. That's a terrific position to be in as we head into the season's most critical stretch of games.

AW said it best, "I'm not so sure we're one of the 12 best teams in the country right now, but we've certainly earned that position in the bracket. Those Tennessee and UCLA wins look better every week."

[sigh] Tantalizing headline? "RPI Is Past Its Prime" - Check. Good lead to the story? "We've now begun to simply count wins against the RPI rated teams as the best evidence of how good a team is. Are we not smarter than that?" - Check again. Collapse in analysis after that? Sadly, yes.

I thought Jay Bilas was on to something with his note on the RPI, a formula not nearly as strong as some of the predictive models used by hoops statisticians like Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin. I should have known better. After correctly pointing out that we can do better than the RPI, Bilas goes for the time-tested "Computers! We don't need no stinking computers!" line of thinking, writing: "If you actually watch all of these teams play (and the committee says it is doing that), then why do we need the RPI? It presents a certain perception, and that perception is not always correct. I believe that the selection of teams has become formulaic, and I'm not crazy about it. If you think that Team A is better than Team B, then Team A should go into the field first. You don't need to count wins against RPI Top 100 or RPI top 50 competition."

A lovely idea in theory, Jay, but in actuality a fantasy. Basing the selections on the eyeball test of humans who've seen snapshots of a team is wholly inferior to supplementing what we see with a ratings model that can take into account everyone's full body of work. Any time you hear someone arguing that we should be using less data to evaluate a complex, multi-factor system, just walk away.

Illustration by contrast. Cleanse your palate with the delicious taste of an analyst who embraces... analysis.

Awards announcement. Bloggers please note: Voting for the CFB Awards will begin next Monday, when the voting gizmo is finally ready. BON'ers please note: Our own Horn Brain was nominated for "Best Post of the Year, Analysis" for his outstanding look at the BCS Computers. Congratulations, sir.

Quick Hits. MB-TF's 2008 Signing Day page... Texas' Big 12 championship winning soccer team signs eight players, including five from California... BHGP asks what price is too high for football success... I answered a few questions on this Saturday's Iowa State basketball game with Clone Chronicles; his answers to my questions here at BON later today.