First look at PWR contributor — non-conference records

It’s a long held belief that in the eyes of PWR, some games are more valuable than others. In particular, record against non-conference opponents is often cited as critical (including in last year’s Swept at the GLI — how harmful to PWR? post in which I noted that the number of scenarios in which UND could finish oh, say, 8th, had fallen from 22% of all scenarios to 5% of all scenarios). That belief stems from the “common opponents” comparison, which for teams in different conferences can be dependent on just a few games that were played between teams in those two conferences.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, UND has a decent out-of-conference record this year, with 3/4 of the scheduled non-conference games already in the books. That got me wondering: 1) how UND’s interconference performance this year compared to past years, and 2) if there really were pronounced shifts in PWR based on any differences.

Without further ado…

UND’s out of conference record and final PWR
Season out of conference
overall record Final PWR
2009-10 (.833) 4-0-2
(2 to go)
(.636) 12-6-4
2008-09 (.556) 5-4-0 (.619) 24-14- 4 8
2007-08 (.786) 5-1-1 (.700) 26-10- 4 3
2006-07 (.750) 6-2-0 (.613) 22-13- 5 7
2005-06 (.750) 7-2-1 (.640) 27-15- 1 6
2004-05 (.750) 5-1-2 (.598) 22-14- 5 8
2003-04 (.833) 5-1-0 (.782) 29- 7- 3 1

That’s not quite what I expected. For example, comparing 08-09 to 06-07 — UND had pretty different out-of-conference records, pretty similar overall records, and pretty similar PWR rankings. That holds true eyeballing the (admittedly small) sample — UND’s PWR seems to roughly rise and fall with its overall record, with no obvious indication that the out-of-conference record is a strong contributor.  Again: that’s a very non-scientific glance and a very small sample, but it’s what I have.

Another dead end I traveled down was trying to extend that idea to if an entire conference’s interconference record noticeably influences how many of its teams made the NCAA tournament (this one started on even shakier ground, in that the conference would clearly be better off with its interconference wins all consolidated in one group of teams and losses in another, the distribution of which I omit from this eyeball analysis).  Hat tip to interconference records for the raw data.

Interconference record and teams in NCAA Tournament
season WCHA vs
‘Big 4’
WCHA teams
2009-10 .585
2008-09 .536 3
2007-08 .589 6
2006-07 .645 3
2005-06 .576 4
2004-05 .654 5
2003-04 .676 5

Once again, if there’s anything there, it’s not particularly obvious.

In that “Swept at the GLI” article referenced above, I went in with the assumption that losing to out-of-conference opponents was a really big deal and let the data confirm that prior.  However, as we saw through the rest of the Spring (e.g. PWR Forecast Feb. 19, vs Denver), in-conference games later in the season often had similar, if not greater, impacts.

Bottom line? Logically, wins against other conferences clearly matter a lot; it’s easy to construct scenarios where flipping a single win to a loss (or vice versa) pushes a team up or down a few slots in the PWR. However, there’s no particular evidence that a team’s or conference’s fortunes rise and fall with interconference results to quite the extent a lot of us assume.

Bonus – for sticking around and proving you really like PWR, here’s a preview of my new Team PWR details page (that will eventually replace these). Much easier to scan and see which could flip based on which criterion.

  • Dave Berger

    I love the look of the new page! But I would have stuck around for the end of the article even if there weren’t a bonus….