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!

Team
Conference
Variance over season
Month to month total variance
Average computer poll rank
Chicago State
Western Athletic
2
14
349
Incarnate Word
Southland
3
35
336
North Carolina
ACC
4
50
15
Gonzaga
West Coast
6
60
6
Houston
The American
9
76
14
Virginia
ACC
11
19
7
New Hampshire
America East
13
32
337
UNC-Asheville
Big South
15
32
343
Buffalo
MAC
16
31
16
Air Force
Mountain West
17
68
214
Cal Poly
Big West
18
25
324
Eastern Kentucky
Ohio Valley
18
268
226
Duke
ACC
19
25
10
Kentucky
SEC
19
82
20
Idaho
Big Sky
20
56
340
Wofford
Southern
20
99
28
BYU
West Coast
20
131
100
Maine
America East
21
103
323
Purdue
Big Ten
21
190
34
Kennesaw State
Atlantic Sun
24
111
328
Portland
West Coast
26
115
325
Western Carolina
Southern
27
87
315
Cincinnati
The American
29
39
23
Virginia Commonwealth
Atlantic 10
31
96
35
Longwood
Big South
31
185
264
Morgan State
MEAC
32
137
312
Western Illinois
Summit League
32
162
304
Denver
Summit League
34
195
305
Delaware State
MEAC
35
124
333
Drexel
Colonial Athletic
36
30
238
Jacksonville
Atlantic Sun
37
206
267
Charleston
Colonial Athletic
37
254
91
Drake
Missouri Valley
38
223
89
Tennessee
SEC
39
58
17
Central Connecticut State
Northeast
39
109
287
Tennessee State
Ohio Valley
39
116
295
Dayton
Atlantic 10
40
38
74
New Mexico State
Western Athletic
40
119
40
Florida Atlantic
Conference USA
40
267
169
Nevada
Mountain West
41
17
19
Belmont
Ohio Valley
41
242
33
UTEP
Conference USA
41
301
292
LSU
SEC
42
79
28
Tennessee Tech
Ohio Valley
42
147
317
Wyoming
Mountain West
43
101
321
Alabama A&M
SWAC
43
178
322
Chattanooga
Southern
43
197
273
Niagara
MAAC
43
263
262
Michigan
Big Ten
44
91
37
Rice
Conference USA
44
199
235
Tulane
The American
46
168
317
Sacred Heart
Northeast
46
190
229
Central Florida
The American
48
145
43
UNC-Wilmington
Colonial Athletic
48
340
286
Missouri State
Missouri Valley
49
75
164
Little Rock
Sun Belt
49
120
266
Penn
Ivy League
49
127
131
Furman
Southern
50
209
55
Murray State
Ohio Valley
51
88
39
Texas Tech
Big XII
51
151
27
Towson
Colonial Athletic
52
135
276
Washington
Pac 12
52
147
49
Milwaukee
Horizon League
52
274
286
Elon
Colonial Athletic
53
82
273
UNC-Greensboro
Southern
53
125
51
UMass-Lowell
America East
55
190
213
Florida International
Conference USA
56
164
170
Colorado State
Mountain West
56
261
201
Kansas State
Big XII
57
164
50
Southern Miss
Conference USA
58
157
139
McNeese State
Southland
58
179
303
Western Kentucky
Conference USA
59
65
105
Eastern Michigan
MAC
59
136
189
Oral Roberts
Summit League
59
182
253
Akron
MAC
60
141
179
Arizona State
Pac 12
60
186
90
Louisiana
Sun Belt
60
200
156
Georgia Southern
Sun Belt
60
329
94
Toledo
MAC
61
249
70
Fairfield
MAAC
62
39
278
Fresno State
Mountain West
62
94
78
Charlotte
Conference USA
62
105
282
Cornell
Ivy League
62
121
210
Louisiana-Monroe
Sun Belt
62
303
152
Old Dominion
Conference USA
63
271
55
Utah
Pac 12
64
98
140
Marist
MAAC
64
141
237
SMU
The American
64
206
149
Georgia State
Sun Belt
64
209
93
Florida State
ACC
64
284
43
Mercer
Southern
64
326
247
Liberty
Atlantic Sun
66
148
58
Utah State
Mountain West
66
170
47
UC-Riverside
Big West
66
171
293
North Alabama
Atlantic Sun
66
286
279
Northern Iowa
Missouri Valley
66
287
182
Vermont
America East
67
146
57
East Tennessee State
Southern
67
198
78
UC-Irvine
Big West
67
200
51
Kent State
MAC
68
74
122
Texas State
Sun Belt
69
91
88
Western Michigan
MAC
70
203
290
Coastal Carolina
Sun Belt
70
235
178
San Francisco
West Coast
70
246
87
Mississippi Valley State
SWAC
71
85
324
Virginia Military
Southern
72
162
295
James Madison
Colonial Athletic
72
233
253
NJIT
Atlantic Sun
73
215
153
Morehead State
Ohio Valley
74
89
237
Maryland
Big Ten
74
125
66
Evansville
Missouri Valley
74
141
259
Lipscomb
Atlantic Sun
74
236
50
Northeastern
Colonial Athletic
75
143
79
Yale
Ivy League
75
188
67
Louisiana Tech
Conference USA
77
306
162
Illinois-Chicago
Horizon League
78
184
181
Middle Tennessee
Conference USA
78
246
245
Coppin State
MEAC
78
276
309
Binghamton
America East
79
63
299
Loyola-Maryland
Patriot League
79
147
259
Bucknell
Patriot League
79
231
110
Stony Brook
America East
80
73
84
Duquesne
Atlantic 10
80
166
126
Wagner
Northeast
80
185
218
Stetson
Atlantic Sun
80
233
309
Utah Valley
Western Athletic
80
244
85
Holy Cross
Patriot League
80
321
217
Maryland-Eastern Shore
MEAC
81
81
326
South Florida
The American
81
125
71
Oregon
Pac 12
81
171
116
UAB
Conference USA
81
246
158
Nicholls State
Southland
82
134
280
Hofstra
Colonial Athletic
82
216
64
Delaware
Colonial Athletic
82
318
230
Siena
MAAC
82
327
177
Austin Peay
Ohio Valley
84
155
86
North Dakota
Summit League
84
248
249
Northern Kentucky
Horizon League
85
216
95
St. John's
Big East
85
454
122
UNLV
Mountain West
86
197
155
Michigan State
Big Ten
87
79
32
UTRGV
Western Athletic
87
145
157
Northern Arizona
Big Sky
88
183
283
Temple
The American
89
71
83
Brown
Ivy League
89
204
124
George Washington
Atlantic 10
92
143
283
Oakland
Horizon League
93
84
167
St. Francis (PA)
Northeast
93
88
185
New Mexico
Mountain West
93
161
213
Virginia Tech
ACC
94
97
49
Oregon State
Pac 12
94
205
126
Columbia
Ivy League
94
331
249
Harvard
Ivy League
95
206
107
Presbyterian
Big South
96
149
163
Texas-Arlington
Sun Belt
96
247
150
UMKC
Western Athletic
96
262
252
North Dakota State
Summit League
97
107
177
UTSA
Conference USA
97
219
144
Alcorn State
SWAC
99
227
290
UCLA
Pac 12
99
265
134
Central Michigan
MAC
99
280
113
Boston University
Patriot League
100
199
219
High Point
Big South
101
87
177
Northwestern State
Southland
101
121
278
South Dakota
Summit League
101
261
307
Marshall
Conference USA
101
413
183
Sacramento State
Big Sky
102
76
298
Gardner-Webb
Big South
102
503
135
Winthrop
Big South
103
57
147
Loyola-Chicago
Missouri Valley
103
303
126
Montana
Big Sky
105
129
78
Rhode Island
Atlantic 10
105
157
177
Indiana State
Missouri Valley
105
188
198
Davidson
Atlantic 10
105
390
93
Arkansas State
Sun Belt
107
224
241
Villanova
Big East
107
225
64
USC
Pac 12
107
360
150
Colgate
Patriot League
108
144
102
Loyola Marymount
West Coast
108
197
155
Memphis
The American
108
218
101
Appalachian State
Sun Belt
109
229
245
Navy
Patriot League
110
84
246
Saint Mary's
West Coast
110
126
116
Marquette
Big East
111
150
52
Troy
Sun Belt
111
391
255
Purdue Fort Wayne
Summit League
112
128
172
Mount St Mary's
Northeast
112
179
283
Kansas
Big XII
112
188
44
Bradley
Missouri Valley
112
371
167
Boise State
Mountain West
113
328
227
Albany
America East
115
308
240
North Carolina State
ACC
117
198
87
Lafayette
Patriot League
117
199
259
Dartmouth
Ivy League
117
244
236
Southeast Missouri State
Ohio Valley
118
216
191
Clemson
ACC
118
273
101
Wright State
Horizon League
118
274
111
Illinois State
Missouri Valley
118
447
190
Valparaiso
Missouri Valley
119
268
227
Florida Gulf Coast
Atlantic Sun
119
341
196
Bowling Green
MAC
120
200
105
Cleveland State
Horizon League
120
235
265
Saint Joseph's
Atlantic 10
121
162
164
Idaho State
Big Sky
121
164
267
Miami (OH)
MAC
121
239
157
Baylor
Big XII
122
148
83
East Carolina
The American
122
163
279
Pepperdine
West Coast
122
351
237
Abilene Christian
Southland
122
357
90
Wisconsin
Big Ten
123
220
84
Hartford
America East
125
356
135
Canisius
MAAC
126
219
201
LIU Brooklyn
Northeast
127
68
200
Seattle
Western Athletic
127
245
230
Charleston Southern
Big South
127
282
189
Detroit
Horizon League
127
336
246
Massachusetts
Atlantic 10
128
210
256
Fordham
Atlantic 10
128
269
268
Bryant
Northeast
128
272
268
San Diego State
Mountain West
129
168
156
Georgetown
Big East
130
180
136
Stanford
Pac 12
130
186
139
Auburn
SEC
130
299
79
William & Mary
Colonial Athletic
132
351
171
Eastern Illinois
Ohio Valley
133
312
254
The Citadel
Southern
134
287
259
Nebraska-Omaha
Summit League
135
193
101
Central Arkansas
Southland
135
414
277
Syracuse
ACC
136
190
86
SIU-Edwardsville
Ohio Valley
136
227
245
South Alabama
Sun Belt
138
71
274
Youngstown State
Horizon League
141
263
224
North Texas
Conference USA
141
273
159
St. Bonaventure
Atlantic 10
141
369
174
Texas
Big XII
142
168
123
California
Pac 12
142
195
282
Lehigh
Patriot League
144
141
128
Long Beach State
Big West
145
131
195
La Salle
Atlantic 10
146
347
225
Portland State
Big Sky
147
170
220
UMBC
America East
147
318
154
Colorado
Pac 12
147
495
125
Ohio
MAC
150
175
236
Jackson State
SWAC
150
278
256
DePaul
Big East
152
185
184
Stephen F. Austin
Southland
152
205
150
South Carolina State
MEAC
153
108
249
Campbell
Big South
153
358
130
Arkansas-Pine Bluff
SWAC
154
194
234
Ball State
MAC
154
317
187
Savannah State
MEAC
154
355
225
Florida
SEC
155
284
105
George Mason
Atlantic 10
155
343
137
Mississippi State
SEC
155
408
44
Southeastern Louisiana
Southland
157
111
283
UC-Santa Barbara
Big West
157
127
132
Arizona
Pac 12
157
163
137
Quinnipiac
MAAC
158
202
146
Houston Baptist
Southland
158
266
234
Jacksonville State
Ohio Valley
158
269
84
Grand Canyon
Western Athletic
158
287
131
Princeton
Ivy League
159
314
134
Richmond
Atlantic 10
159
489
188
Wake Forest
ACC
161
220
210
North Florida
Atlantic Sun
161
232
200
Army
Patriot League
162
373
256
Louisville
ACC
163
252
48
Cal State-Northridge
Big West
164
149
220
Montana State
Big Sky
164
211
180
Northern Illinois
MAC
164
348
195
Radford
Big South
165
472
62
Fairleigh-Dickinson
Northeast
167
198
162
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Southland
167
390
264
American
Patriot League
169
450
213
Monmouth
MAAC
170
283
226
Manhattan
MAAC
171
224
295
Connecticut
The American
171
262
198
Pacific
West Coast
171
285
256
Lamar
Southland
171
444
154
New Orleans
Southland
173
202
155
Ole Miss
SEC
176
243
100
Cal State-Fullerton
Big West
177
219
140
UC-Davis
Big West
177
280
254
Green Bay
Horizon League
177
297
176
Iowa State
Big XII
179
145
53
Florida A&M
MEAC
179
254
237
Butler
Big East
180
261
149
Northern Colorado
Big Sky
180
339
70
Eastern Washington
Big Sky
182
162
223
Providence
Big East
183
224
152
Hampton
Big South
183
297
208
Rutgers
Big Ten
184
237
231
Cal State-Bakersfield
Western Athletic
185
420
195
Southern Illinois
Missouri Valley
186
75
295
Tennessee-Martin
Ohio Valley
190
298
284
Iowa
Big Ten
192
100
78
California Baptist
Western Athletic
192
416
201
Rider
MAAC
192
450
204
South Carolina Upstate
Big South
194
339
207
Santa Clara
West Coast
195
217
340
Iona
MAAC
196
340
166
Grambling
SWAC
197
166
221
Washington State
Pac 12
197
350
228
Boston College
ACC
200
221
187
South Dakota State
Summit League
201
139
173
Texas Southern
SWAC
201
303
169
Vanderbilt
SEC
203
305
277
Norfolk State
MEAC
205
332
120
Miami
ACC
205
360
176
San Diego
West Coast
211
225
190
Arkansas
SEC
211
232
154
Georgia Tech
ACC
212
241
156
Notre Dame
ACC
213
308
209
Tulsa
The American
214
228
152
North Carolina A&T
MEAC
218
370
179
Alabama
SEC
220
254
101
Oklahoma State
Big XII
221
212
203
Wichita State
The American
221
482
90
Hawaii
Big West
225
297
174
St. Francis (NY)
Northeast
226
271
179
Illinois
Big Ten
227
288
139
IUPUI
Horizon League
227
529
215
Oklahoma
Big XII
228
272
135
Pittsburgh
ACC
228
319
197
North Carolina Central
MEAC
231
247
199
Georgia
SEC
232
361
226
Prairie View A&M
SWAC
235
351
111
Robert Morris
Northeast
237
587
223
West Virginia
Big XII
238
307
214
Xavier
Big East
242
442
94
Alabama State
SWAC
247
521
267
Creighton
Big East
248
325
111
Northwestern
Big Ten
249
297
210
South Carolina
SEC
249
354
201
TCU
Big XII
251
331
109
Southern Utah
Big Sky
252
145
150
Minnesota
Big Ten
253
270
98
Howard
MEAC
253
382
234
Saint Louis
Atlantic 10
258
305
169
Texas A&M
SEC
258
381
177
Samford
Southern
260
344
96
Nebraska
Big Ten
264
314
202
Weber State
Big Sky
272
199
175
Saint Peter's
MAAC
276
198
72
Ohio State
Big Ten
279
511
84
Sam Houston State
Southland
290
68
265
Bethune-Cookman
MEAC
291
266
261
San Jose State
Mountain West
303
167
144
Southern
SWAC
306
274
227
Indiana
Big Ten
306
453
161
Missouri
SEC
314
472
201
Penn State
Big Ten
342
535
95
Seton Hall
Big East
369
443
165