March Madness is here – 27 years of data for Florida D1 schools

Obviously, I work in soccer, but otherwise really don’t follow sports closely – other than men’s College Basketball. Heck, I don’t even watch the Super Bowl (and usually don’t know who plays in it)! I watched sports religiously when I was younger but gradually weened off of them outside of men’s NCAA Hoops.

This year was a good one for south Florida schools with FAU winning Conference USA in both the Regular Season and Tournament and Miami winning the ACC Regular Season title. Both play Friday night, Miami slipped to a #5 seed due to a few recent losses may not have their most important player Norchad Omier who averages a double-double a game in the tournament (yes I know Isaiah Wong is the ACC Player of the Year but Omier is more important IMO to how Miami plays than even Wong or Jordan Miller). FAU got a #9 seed which is amazing for a mid-major, and shows how strong a season they have had.

However, outside south Florida, it was an underwhelming campaign, with Florida and UCF both underachieving (and now face each other in the first round of the NIT!) and Florida State completely collapsing. One nice story, Stetson under former UF Assistant and UCF Head Coach Donnie Jones, had a winning record and made the CBI, college basketball’s third postseason tournament that is mostly for mid and low major conference teams. The CBI is being held in Daytona Beach this year, so Stetson is basically the home team.

Since the 1996-97 season I’ve kept data, first on an excel spreadsheet, now in the handy Google Docs formula that tracks every schools’s RPI rating (yes, I have used the RPI straight through for consistency, though I know NET and KenPom now probably are the more used metrics), postseason and other assorted goodies.

Over the period covered, Florida has easily been the most successful program, and the Big Three (UF, Miami, FSU) in general have been strong, while others have not been. FAU’s success this year is wonderful, because mid-majors in Florida have done worse in this sport than you’d think, and have been far more successful in football over the years, than basketball which is the opposite of the rest of the country. It’s worth noting FSU and Miami play in the ACC which for most of the period covered was the best basketball league in the country by some distance – the same way the SEC (I assume?) is in football.

The lower the number, the better the rating in RPI, so for example this year Miami was ranked 23rd and Florida 95th, meaning in this rating the Hurricanes were 72 places nationally ahead of the Gators. This chart covers every Florida D1 school from 1996-97 through 2022-23. Note UNF and Florida Gulf Coast were not D1 schools when the chart begins so are blacked out for that period (FGCU didn’t exist at all actually in 1996).

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