Momentum and Consistency Heading into the NCAA Tournament

It’s almost tournament time, and a big part of who can advance in the tournament is based off of how well the team is playing as we head into March.

With the help of MODERN TECHNOLOGY, we’ve blown up the AMSTS Computer Rankings to dissect exactly which teams have momentum going into the big dance, and which ones should be avoided.

First things first, let’s look at how everything tends to center out over the course of the season. Largely because of conference play being a snake eating its own tail, when we aggregate each conference’s ratings over the course of the year they tend to even out. Let’s take a look, with a high ranking being at the bottom, and a low ranking at the top thanks to Google Charts’ inflexibility.

The top chart shows the aggregate, as if the season started on the point of the line and continued. The second chart looks at each month of the season independently. It’s important to note this only gives us an idea of momentum: in February, we ignore how good a team was in December for these purposes. Since we’re looking at momentum, it’s no surprise it’s even across conferences, for as one team picks up momentum, it comes at the cost of others.

As we break down into individual teams, we can see how consistent some programs have been. Naturally, the teams at the very top and very bottom have remained consistent throughout the season, with Chicago State (bless their hearts) moving only two spots across the entire season (thanks to their three game winning streak in December, two of which were against non-D1 opponents). Let’s take a look at the twenty most consistent teams in college basketball this season:

While I’m not surprised about the Gonzagas, UNCs, Chicago States, Virginias and New Hampshires of the world, the two that stuck out to me the most were BYU, Eastern Kentucky, and Air Force, who have managed to be consistently mediocre. It’s almost hard to do that, but when we look at BYU’s schedule, they’ve consistently won the games they should, and lost the ones they were the underdogs in. This is true for Air Force and Eastern Kentucky as well.

So how about inconsistency? This was most surprising to me as SIX of the bottom twenty in consistency were found in the Big Ten. Clearly, a strong OOC for the Big Ten brought us into the conference season at which point teams managed to beat up on one another. This suggests to me that the Big Ten may have been the most competitive conference all year, with the exception of Northwestern, who managed to be the sixth worst team in NCAA Division I in February.

Overall, it seems that these inconsistent teams may be capable of a big run in March, so keep an eye out for Indiana (if they make it), Ohio State, and Seton Hall (again, if they make it) to potentially raise a few eyebrows. As for Chicago State? Well, at least they were consistent.

Below I’ve included the full 353 teams with their rolling momentum as well as their month-by-month momentum and included the average rank so that you can compare. Enjoy!

TeamConferenceVariance over seasonMonth to month total varianceAverage computer poll rank
Chicago StateWestern Athletic214349
Incarnate WordSouthland335336
North CarolinaACC45015
GonzagaWest Coast6606
HoustonThe American97614
New HampshireAmerica East1332337
UNC-AshevilleBig South1532343
Air ForceMountain West1768214
Cal PolyBig West1825324
Eastern KentuckyOhio Valley18268226
IdahoBig Sky2056340
BYUWest Coast20131100
MaineAmerica East21103323
PurdueBig Ten2119034
Kennesaw StateAtlantic Sun24111328
PortlandWest Coast26115325
Western CarolinaSouthern2787315
CincinnatiThe American293923
Virginia CommonwealthAtlantic 10319635
LongwoodBig South31185264
Morgan StateMEAC32137312
Western IllinoisSummit League32162304
DenverSummit League34195305
Delaware StateMEAC35124333
DrexelColonial Athletic3630238
JacksonvilleAtlantic Sun37206267
CharlestonColonial Athletic3725491
DrakeMissouri Valley3822389
Central Connecticut StateNortheast39109287
Tennessee StateOhio Valley39116295
DaytonAtlantic 10403874
New Mexico StateWestern Athletic4011940
Florida AtlanticConference USA40267169
NevadaMountain West411719
BelmontOhio Valley4124233
UTEPConference USA41301292
Tennessee TechOhio Valley42147317
WyomingMountain West43101321
Alabama A&MSWAC43178322
MichiganBig Ten449137
RiceConference USA44199235
TulaneThe American46168317
Sacred HeartNortheast46190229
Central FloridaThe American4814543
UNC-WilmingtonColonial Athletic48340286
Missouri StateMissouri Valley4975164
Little RockSun Belt49120266
PennIvy League49127131
Murray StateOhio Valley518839
Texas TechBig XII5115127
TowsonColonial Athletic52135276
WashingtonPac 125214749
MilwaukeeHorizon League52274286
ElonColonial Athletic5382273
UMass-LowellAmerica East55190213
Florida InternationalConference USA56164170
Colorado StateMountain West56261201
Kansas StateBig XII5716450
Southern MissConference USA58157139
McNeese StateSouthland58179303
Western KentuckyConference USA5965105
Eastern MichiganMAC59136189
Oral RobertsSummit League59182253
Arizona StatePac 126018690
LouisianaSun Belt60200156
Georgia SouthernSun Belt6032994
Fresno StateMountain West629478
CharlotteConference USA62105282
CornellIvy League62121210
Louisiana-MonroeSun Belt62303152
Old DominionConference USA6327155
UtahPac 126498140
SMUThe American64206149
Georgia StateSun Belt6420993
Florida StateACC6428443
LibertyAtlantic Sun6614858
Utah StateMountain West6617047
UC-RiversideBig West66171293
North AlabamaAtlantic Sun66286279
Northern IowaMissouri Valley66287182
VermontAmerica East6714657
East Tennessee StateSouthern6719878
UC-IrvineBig West6720051
Kent StateMAC6874122
Texas StateSun Belt699188
Western MichiganMAC70203290
Coastal CarolinaSun Belt70235178
San FranciscoWest Coast7024687
Mississippi Valley StateSWAC7185324
Virginia MilitarySouthern72162295
James MadisonColonial Athletic72233253
NJITAtlantic Sun73215153
Morehead StateOhio Valley7489237
MarylandBig Ten7412566
EvansvilleMissouri Valley74141259
LipscombAtlantic Sun7423650
NortheasternColonial Athletic7514379
YaleIvy League7518867
Louisiana TechConference USA77306162
Illinois-ChicagoHorizon League78184181
Middle TennesseeConference USA78246245
Coppin StateMEAC78276309
BinghamtonAmerica East7963299
Loyola-MarylandPatriot League79147259
BucknellPatriot League79231110
Stony BrookAmerica East807384
DuquesneAtlantic 1080166126
StetsonAtlantic Sun80233309
Utah ValleyWestern Athletic8024485
Holy CrossPatriot League80321217
Maryland-Eastern ShoreMEAC8181326
South FloridaThe American8112571
OregonPac 1281171116
UABConference USA81246158
Nicholls StateSouthland82134280
HofstraColonial Athletic8221664
DelawareColonial Athletic82318230
Austin PeayOhio Valley8415586
North DakotaSummit League84248249
Northern KentuckyHorizon League8521695
St. John'sBig East85454122
UNLVMountain West86197155
Michigan StateBig Ten877932
UTRGVWestern Athletic87145157
Northern ArizonaBig Sky88183283
TempleThe American897183
BrownIvy League89204124
George WashingtonAtlantic 1092143283
OaklandHorizon League9384167
St. Francis (PA)Northeast9388185
New MexicoMountain West93161213
Virginia TechACC949749
Oregon StatePac 1294205126
ColumbiaIvy League94331249
HarvardIvy League95206107
PresbyterianBig South96149163
Texas-ArlingtonSun Belt96247150
UMKCWestern Athletic96262252
North Dakota StateSummit League97107177
UTSAConference USA97219144
Alcorn StateSWAC99227290
UCLAPac 1299265134
Central MichiganMAC99280113
Boston UniversityPatriot League100199219
High PointBig South10187177
Northwestern StateSouthland101121278
South DakotaSummit League101261307
MarshallConference USA101413183
Sacramento StateBig Sky10276298
Gardner-WebbBig South102503135
WinthropBig South10357147
Loyola-ChicagoMissouri Valley103303126
MontanaBig Sky10512978
Rhode IslandAtlantic 10105157177
Indiana StateMissouri Valley105188198
DavidsonAtlantic 1010539093
Arkansas StateSun Belt107224241
VillanovaBig East10722564
USCPac 12107360150
ColgatePatriot League108144102
Loyola MarymountWest Coast108197155
MemphisThe American108218101
Appalachian StateSun Belt109229245
NavyPatriot League11084246
Saint Mary'sWest Coast110126116
MarquetteBig East11115052
TroySun Belt111391255
Purdue Fort WayneSummit League112128172
Mount St Mary'sNortheast112179283
KansasBig XII11218844
BradleyMissouri Valley112371167
Boise StateMountain West113328227
AlbanyAmerica East115308240
North Carolina StateACC11719887
LafayettePatriot League117199259
DartmouthIvy League117244236
Southeast Missouri StateOhio Valley118216191
Wright StateHorizon League118274111
Illinois StateMissouri Valley118447190
ValparaisoMissouri Valley119268227
Florida Gulf CoastAtlantic Sun119341196
Bowling GreenMAC120200105
Cleveland StateHorizon League120235265
Saint Joseph'sAtlantic 10121162164
Idaho StateBig Sky121164267
Miami (OH)MAC121239157
BaylorBig XII12214883
East CarolinaThe American122163279
PepperdineWest Coast122351237
Abilene ChristianSouthland12235790
WisconsinBig Ten12322084
HartfordAmerica East125356135
LIU BrooklynNortheast12768200
SeattleWestern Athletic127245230
Charleston SouthernBig South127282189
DetroitHorizon League127336246
MassachusettsAtlantic 10128210256
FordhamAtlantic 10128269268
San Diego StateMountain West129168156
GeorgetownBig East130180136
StanfordPac 12130186139
William & MaryColonial Athletic132351171
Eastern IllinoisOhio Valley133312254
The CitadelSouthern134287259
Nebraska-OmahaSummit League135193101
Central ArkansasSouthland135414277
SIU-EdwardsvilleOhio Valley136227245
South AlabamaSun Belt13871274
Youngstown StateHorizon League141263224
North TexasConference USA141273159
St. BonaventureAtlantic 10141369174
TexasBig XII142168123
CaliforniaPac 12142195282
LehighPatriot League144141128
Long Beach StateBig West145131195
La SalleAtlantic 10146347225
Portland StateBig Sky147170220
UMBCAmerica East147318154
ColoradoPac 12147495125
Jackson StateSWAC150278256
DePaulBig East152185184
Stephen F. AustinSouthland152205150
South Carolina StateMEAC153108249
CampbellBig South153358130
Arkansas-Pine BluffSWAC154194234
Ball StateMAC154317187
Savannah StateMEAC154355225
George MasonAtlantic 10155343137
Mississippi StateSEC15540844
Southeastern LouisianaSouthland157111283
UC-Santa BarbaraBig West157127132
ArizonaPac 12157163137
Houston BaptistSouthland158266234
Jacksonville StateOhio Valley15826984
Grand CanyonWestern Athletic158287131
PrincetonIvy League159314134
RichmondAtlantic 10159489188
Wake ForestACC161220210
North FloridaAtlantic Sun161232200
ArmyPatriot League162373256
Cal State-NorthridgeBig West164149220
Montana StateBig Sky164211180
Northern IllinoisMAC164348195
RadfordBig South16547262
Texas A&M-Corpus ChristiSouthland167390264
AmericanPatriot League169450213
ConnecticutThe American171262198
PacificWest Coast171285256
New OrleansSouthland173202155
Ole MissSEC176243100
Cal State-FullertonBig West177219140
UC-DavisBig West177280254
Green BayHorizon League177297176
Iowa StateBig XII17914553
Florida A&MMEAC179254237
ButlerBig East180261149
Northern ColoradoBig Sky18033970
Eastern WashingtonBig Sky182162223
ProvidenceBig East183224152
HamptonBig South183297208
RutgersBig Ten184237231
Cal State-BakersfieldWestern Athletic185420195
Southern IllinoisMissouri Valley18675295
Tennessee-MartinOhio Valley190298284
IowaBig Ten19210078
California BaptistWestern Athletic192416201
South Carolina UpstateBig South194339207
Santa ClaraWest Coast195217340
Washington StatePac 12197350228
Boston CollegeACC200221187
South Dakota StateSummit League201139173
Texas SouthernSWAC201303169
Norfolk StateMEAC205332120
San DiegoWest Coast211225190
Georgia TechACC212241156
Notre DameACC213308209
TulsaThe American214228152
North Carolina A&TMEAC218370179
Oklahoma StateBig XII221212203
Wichita StateThe American22148290
HawaiiBig West225297174
St. Francis (NY)Northeast226271179
IllinoisBig Ten227288139
IUPUIHorizon League227529215
OklahomaBig XII228272135
North Carolina CentralMEAC231247199
Prairie View A&MSWAC235351111
Robert MorrisNortheast237587223
West VirginiaBig XII238307214
XavierBig East24244294
Alabama StateSWAC247521267
CreightonBig East248325111
NorthwesternBig Ten249297210
South CarolinaSEC249354201
TCUBig XII251331109
Southern UtahBig Sky252145150
MinnesotaBig Ten25327098
Saint LouisAtlantic 10258305169
Texas A&MSEC258381177
NebraskaBig Ten264314202
Weber StateBig Sky272199175
Saint Peter'sMAAC27619872
Ohio StateBig Ten27951184
Sam Houston StateSouthland29068265
San Jose StateMountain West303167144
IndianaBig Ten306453161
Penn StateBig Ten34253595
Seton HallBig East369443165