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College Basketball in the European Soccer Model: One Year Update

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Who has been promoted and who has been relegated in our little imaginary scenario?

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Before the college basketball season started, I laid out a plan that would model a new set of leagues based on the European soccer model. You can find it here, but the essense of the situation is that the NCAA is terribly broken (as far as its hypocrisy and business model are concerned at the highest levels of college basketball) and could easily be replaced by a series of super leagues if the teams currently under the NCAA umbrella chose to disband and form their own leagues.

I divided 124 teams into four divisions (you can see the criteria by using the above link) and this is the post-season reaction to that post. The jist of the situation is that the top 5 teams plus a playoff team all have chances of moving into the division above. Conversely, if you finish in the bottom five or six, you will/can be relegated to the division below. Please remember that under the proposal, all teams will play each other once (30 games) and this is obviously not accurate because it takes current records and schedules into consideration. Nonetheless, it was a fun exercise. Here’s how it turned out taking all the regular season records of the 124 teams into consideration.

2018/19 DIVISION I SEASON STANDINGS

1. Virginia 30-3 (Higher NET)

2. Gonzaga 30-3

3. Duke 29-5

4. Cincinnati 28-6

5. Michigan State 28-6

6. Michigan 28-7

7. North Carolina 27-6

8. Kentucky 27-6

9. Kansas 25-9

10. Villanova 25-9

11. Purdue 23-9

12. Wisconsin 23-10

13. Maryland 22-10

14. Syracuse 20-13

15. Louisville 20-13

16. Oklahoma 19-13

17. Georgetown 19-13

18. Ohio State 19-14

19. Wichita State 19-14

20. Florida 19-15

21. Xavier 19-16

22. UNLV 17-14

23. Indiana 17-15

24. Arkansas 17-15

25. Arizona 17-15

RELEGATION PLAYOFF

26. UCLA 17-16

RELEGATION to DIVISION II

27. Texas 16-16

28. Connecticut 16-17

29. Butler 16-17

30. Stanford 15-16

31. West Virginia 15-21

Virginia are your Division I champions, and a worthy champ at that. The bottom five deserve to be relegated if you ask me. In Division II, it gets a little less predictable.

2018/19 DIVISION II SEASON STANDINGS

PROMOTION to DIVISION I

1. Nevada 29-4

2. Tennessee 29-5

3. Florida State 27-7

4. Texas Tech 26-6

5. Washington 26-9

PROMOTION PLAYOFF

6. Kansas State 25-8

SAFE

7. Virginia Tech 24-8

8. Davidson 24-9

9. Oregon 23-12

10. Iowa State 23-11

11. Arizona State 22-10

12. NC State 22-11

13. Iowa 22-11

14. Memphis 21-13

15. Baylor 19-13

16. Clemson 19-13

17. Creighton 18-14

18. Utah 17-14

19. USC 16-17

20. Missouri 15-17

21. Texas A&M 14-18

22. Georgia Tech 14-18

23. Miami 14-18

24. Pitt 14-19

25. Notre Dame 14-19

RELEGATION PLAYOFF

26. Oklahoma State 12-20

RELEGATION to DIVISION III

27. Illinois 12-21

28. Wake Forest 11-20

29. Georgia 11-21

30. Vanderbilt 9-23

31. California 8-23

Again, this feels about right. Obviously, in this model Virginia Tech get hosed by having to play in the ACC while Nevada get an easier road by playing in whatever conference they play in. K-State’s nice season is rewarded as well.

2018/19 DIVISION III SEASON STANDINGS

PROMOTION to DIVISION II

1. Houston 31-3

2. LSU 26-6

3. Auburn 26-9

4. VCU 25-7

5. Marquette 24-9

PROMOTION PLAYOFF

6. Temple 23-9

SAFE

7. Mississippi State 23-10

8. St. Mary’s 22-11

9. Colorado 21-12

10. Minnesota 21-13

11. San Diego State 21-13

12. TCU 20-13

13. Loyola-Chicago 20-13

14. Seton Hall 20-13

15. Western Kentucky 20-14

16. Mississippi 19-12

17. Penn 19-12

18. BYU 19-13

19. Oregon State 18-13

20. Nebraska 18-16

21. Alabama 18-15

22. Providence 18-16

23. Princeton 16-12

24. South Carolina 16-16

25. Long Beach State 15-19

RELEGATION PLAYOFF

26. Rutgers 14-17 (Higher NET)

RELEGATION to DIVISION IV

27. Boston College 14-17

28. New Mexico 14-18

29. Penn State 14-18

30. Northwestern 13-19

31. Washington State 11-21

Here we see some justice for great seasons. Teams like Houston, LSU, and Auburn haven’t exactly been stellar at basketball over the last few decades and were put in the third division because of it. Now, they’re moving up.

2018/19 DIVISION IV SEASON STANDINGS

PROMOTION to DIVISION III

1. Toledo 25-7

2. Central Florida 23-8

3. Fresno State 23-9

4. Central Michigan 23-11

5. Yale 22-7

PROMOTION PLAYOFF

6. St. John’s 21-12

SAFE

7. Southern Miss 20-12

8. UAB 20-15

9. Harvard 19-12

10. South Florida 19-13

11. Marshall 19-14

12. Hawaii 18-13

13. Tulsa 18-14

14. Northern Illinois 17-17

15. Santa Clara 16-15

16. Northern Iowa 16-18

17. DePaul 15-15

18. Miami (Ohio) 15-17

19. SMU 15-17

20. Ohio 14-17

21. Air Force 14-18

22. Florida Gulf Coast 14-18

23. St. Joseph’s 14-19

24. Rice 13-19

25. Boise State 13-20

26.Richmond 13-20

27. Detroit Mercy 11-20

RELEGATED BACK TO NCAA

28. Manhattan 11-21

29. East Carolina 10-21

30. UTEP 8-21

31. Western Michigan 8-24

There are a lot of bad teams in this division. The records would be better if the 30 game season was played against each other. But again, this seems about right.

The Three Playoff Games

UCLA v K-State for Div I/Div II Status

Oklahoma State v Temple for Div II/Div II Status

Rutgers v St. Johns for Div II/Div IV Status

I think that K-State, Temple, and St. John’s win these games which would give promotion to all three.

Takeaways

1. Obviously, this exercise is quite futile considering that the teams don’t all play everyone each year. Some teams, like Gonzaga, for example, will always be in Division I because they will never be bad in the West Coast Conference.

2. I kind of randomly selected the teams that would be selected for the divisions based on perception (after we let in all the title holders of the last 31 years) and this year, the balance was off. But, after the year played out, teams are starting to be where they really should be. Tennessee, Florida State, and Texas Tech moved up as they should. Same with LSU, Auburn and Houston.

3. It’s kind of hard to get relegated. You have to be really bad. Obviously, this all changes if everyone played each other, but in this exercise, it’s hard. UNLV, Arkansas, Wichita State, and Indiana are proof. Pitt and Notre Dame are proof as well. Those teams would likely be relegated if they truly had to go through this gauntlet.

4. The playoffs won’t be as cool as I envisioned. The 6thplace team is markedly better than the 26thbest team in the division ahead, under these rules. If this were all real, I think the playoffs would be more exciting, but it’s not.

Perhaps the league’s commissioners will decide that there should be two playoff teams in the spots next season instead of one. This would make the 7thand 25th placed teams have a fight and play in a mini tournament. We shall see.

Here’s what the 2019/20 season will look like:

2019/20 DIVISION I

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Virginia
  3. Duke
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Michigan State
  6. Michigan
  7. North Carolina
  8. Kentucky
  9. Kansas
  10. Villanova
  11. Purdue
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Maryland
  14. Syracuse
  15. Louisville
  16. Oklahoma
  17. Georgetown
  18. Ohio State
  19. Wichita State
  20. Florida
  21. Xavier
  22. UNLV
  23. Indiana
  24. Arkansas
  25. Arizona
  26. Nevada
  27. Tennessee
  28. Florida State
  29. Texas Tech
  30. Washington
  31. Kansas State

2019/2020 DIVISION II

  1. Virginia Tech
  2. Davidson
  3. Oregon
  4. Iowa State
  5. Arizona State
  6. NC State
  7. Iowa
  8. Memphis
  9. Baylor
  10. Clemson
  11. Creighton
  12. Utah
  13. USC
  14. Missouri
  15. Texas A&M
  16. Georgia Tech
  17. Miami
  18. Pitt
  19. Notre Dame
  20. UCLA
  21. Texas
  22. Connecticut
  23. Butler
  24. Stanford
  25. West Virginia
  26. Houston
  27. LSU
  28. Auburn
  29. VCU
  30. Marquette
  31. Temple

2019/2020 DIVISION III

  1. Mississippi State
  2. St. Mary’s
  3. Colorado
  4. Minnesota
  5. San Diego State
  6. TCU
  7. Loyola-Chicago
  8. Seton Hall
  9. Western Kentucky
  10. Mississippi
  11. Penn
  12. BYU
  13. Oregon State
  14. Nebraska
  15. Alabama
  16. Providence
  17. Princeton
  18. South Carolina
  19. Long Beach State
  20. Oklahoma State
  21. Illinois
  22. Wake Forest
  23. Georgia
  24. Vanderbilt
  25. California
  26. Toledo
  27. Central Florida
  28. Fresno State
  29. Central Michigan
  30. Yale
  31. St. John’s

2019/2020 DIVISION IV

  1. Southern Miss
  2. UAB
  3. Harvard
  4. South Florida
  5. Marshall
  6. Hawaii
  7. Tulsa
  8. Northern Illinois
  9. Santa Clara
  10. Northern Iowa
  11. DePaul
  12. Miami (Ohio)
  13. SMU
  14. Ohio
  15. Air Force
  16. Florida Gulf Coast
  17. St. Joseph’s
  18. Rice
  19. Boise State
  20. Richmond
  21. Detroit Mercy
  22. Rutgers
  23. Boston College
  24. New Mexico
  25. Penn State
  26. Northwestern
  27. Washington State

ADD in 4 NCAA Teams that made the Tournament to round it out.

28. Murray State

29. Old Dominion

30. Wofford

31. Vermont

There you have it. We’ll do this again next year and see where things stand.