So for those who were wondering, "What is this guy Massey on?"
Now that basketball season is underway, most of us basketball junkies seem to be scouring the internet for all the information we can about our favorite leagues, divisions, etc. One thing I'm noticing, especially in the California Community College basketball world, is that many people are having questions about the Massey Ratings. These questions arise due to them omitting some current hot teams or rating teams very differently than what most would expect at this point in the season. One can look at the current Massey Ratings and scratch their head wondering where these ratings are coming from.
To start things off, the Massey Ratings is strictly a highly complex mathematical calculation, taking into account many factors (and fun things like linear algebra, etc). This formula will rate teams in order based on the criteria and information used. This may be enough to answer most people's questions, because no human or group of people is involved in these ratings. These ratings are used by just about every sport and many levels of competition. Once the schedules and results are plugged in, this program runs and will update on a regular basis with the new information.
From wikipedia, "Computer rating systems can tend toward objectivity, without specific player, team, regional, or style bias. Ken Massey writes that an advantage of computer rating systems is that they can "objectively track all" 351 college basketball teams, while human polls "have limited value". Computer ratings are verifiable and repeatable, and are comprehensive, requiring assessment of all selected criteria. By comparison, rating systems relying on human polls include inherent human subjectivity; this may or may not be an attractive property depending on system needs."
So, in my opinion, as long as we aware at what type of information we are analyzing, this system can be beneficial when rating a very large group of teams. For instance, I do not rank the Southern California Juco teams in my weekly unofficial rankings, because I do not have the capability of watching these programs, nor do I have the time to research them. I am sure this is true for most of the coaches as well, so these rankings can be beneficial in some ways in comparison to a standard coaches poll. However, just like any other computer program, there are definitely room for flaws in the system. (Here is an article I wrote last year with some major defects in the CCCAA Men's Basketball version of the Massey Ratings)
This early in the season, this type of rating system is almost pointless, other than spurring debate and for entertainment purposes. California Community College Men's Basketball schedules are heavily filled with tournaments in pre-conference play. The Massey Ratings take into account "Strength of Schedule" in their algebraic equations. When looking at each teams' schedule in the Massey Ratings, you only see the first opponent listed, if any opponent is listed at all, during the dates of these tournaments. The opponent you face on the first day of a tournament is out of your control, so if you are matched up with a team with a very weak Massey Rating it will greatly diminish your power rating and overall rating in the system (and have a domino effect on every team you have on your schedule as well). You may be in the bracket with some highly rated teams, but this system does not take this into account, until after you have played the tournament through. For greater depth into this system and the effect on CCCAA Men's Basketball please see my article above.
So for those that may have wondered, "What is this Massey guy on?" Hopefully you have a better understanding that it's just a big algebraic formula without any bias towards the teams actual talent, tradition, momentum, coaching style, current injuries, or anything else in the human world that actually is important in sports. So have fun with these ratings and enjoy the information, but don't take them too seriously, especially early on in the season.
For info directly from the source, here is a link to the Massey Ratings FAQ's.. I enjoyed his version of the layman's description.. not very 'layman' to me!