Did COVID provide a blueprint for rethinking how conference standings should work?
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One less-discussed byproduct of conferences getting larger and larger is the increased proliferation of unbalanced schedules. If your league has 14 or 16 teams, well, there just isn't enough time to play everybody the same number of times in every sport.
That can make conference standings a little bit less fair...just ask any college basketball fan. Last year, trying to figure out standings became even more complicated, as teams canceled and postponed games due to COVID all the time. What happens when one team plays 12 games and another team plays seven?
I'm going to turn the time over to Andy Wittry, who talked to the most famous number cruncher in college basketball, to learn how one league solved that problem last year, and whether other schools could replicate it, even when COVID cancelations are less of a factor.
If someone had time traveled to 2021 and took one look at the final men’s and women’s basketball standings in the West Coast Conference, odds are they’d likely be very confused.
While ignoring how weird and inefficient a use of time travel that would be, our intergalactic, time-bending, basketball-crazed astronaut – let’s call him, I don’t know, something completely made up like “Bill Walton” – would see the WCC men’s basketball standings and notice that Loyola Marymount finished fifth in the conference standings despite a 7-5 record, which was tied for the third-most conference wins and third-fewer conference losses.
Based upon a traditional winning percentage, the Lions should’ve finished in third in the conference, not fifth.
Things were most straightforward on the women’s side, but despite Santa Clara and Portland each finishing 9-8 in conference play, the Broncos’ listed winning percentage was 0.035 higher.
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