Topics that always comes up during March Madness are how each team was seeded and where was that team placed in the bracket. Entering this year’s tournament the most criticized decision by the committee was the treatment of the PAC-12 teams and the 12-seeds in general. The 12-seeds this year included Akron, Ole Miss, California and Oregon. That group had two members of the PAC-12 and two conference tournament champions in Ole Miss and Oregon.
Looking at the distance from campus, for all of the schools in the tournament field, the 12-seeds actually had the closest proximity of all the seed groups outside of the 1-seeds, which historically are seed protected and kept close to home. Did the committee actually do a favor by seeding the 12s a little high but kept them close to home? Continue reading →
Well now that the field is set, agonizing who will make the tourney has shifted to who actually did. Already, there has been uproar on how many non-power 6 conference teams made it. In my last blog, I stated this was going to be a huge year for the mid-majors to gain more respect and keep the momentum rolling from the regular season. They have their opportunity and now it is about performance. The formulas and rankings put in place for team comparisons were on showcase throughout the year. With non-power 6 conferences and teams representing strong numbers, the trendy topic was to shift away from rankings like the RPI and put more faith in the eye test. This tournament I wanted to see just how useful these numbers can be in head-to-head team comparisons.
This blog will concentrate on five of the most popular metrics used today. Even though the push back on these has been strong this year, they are still used by mainstream media for talking points and comparisons, so let’s see how well they do this March Madness. I will track the results of the games and compare the two teams involved based on their SOS, BPI , KenPom, Sagarin, and RPI. All of these numbers are current, documented after Selection Sunday, before the tournament starts and will not be updated throughout the tourney. They will remain the same for consistency purposes and tracking of results based on pre-tournament rankings. After every round I will document what each one produced, both against the spread and straight up. Continue reading →
As sports fans prepare for arguably the most exciting time in sports, the NCAA committee will prepare to be the most criticized group over their decisions in setting the field. Every year there are fans and analysts giving their opinions on which teams deserve to make the tournament and what their seed should have been. With the so-called “Mid-Major” conferences improving their level of talent and competition over the years, it will draw even more attention to the committee and the teams themselves. A Mid-Major is the number one team in the country for only the third time in the last ten seasons and it was Gonzaga’s first number one ranking in school history. In addition to individual team success, the Mountain West conference has battled the mighty Big 10 for top spot in conference RPI all season.
So the real question is, just how important are all of these rankings and formulas when comparing the strength of teams? Continue reading →
In my last blog one of the topics of focus was the importance of the KenPom ratings and how those teams were performing in the NCAA tournament. The records going strictly by the ratings on Monday after Selection Sunday, straight up and against the spread, were impressive through the Thursday and Friday games. Staying with the original ratings posted from that Monday, the against the spread record leveled off going 8-8 over Saturday and Sunday. If you combined that with the 19-12-1 record from the round of 64, overall 27-20-1 is a solid winning percentage. Straight up the teams went 12-4. Continue reading →
After a favorite filled Thursday where higher seeds dominated the bracket, 14 of 16 won, Friday was a historical day for underdogs. Half of the lower seeds won with two 15 seeds advancing to the round of 32, not to mention a 13 seed sprinkled in there. A day like this has never been seen before in the NCAA tournament. Even though my bracket was busted by Missouri going down, I still wanted to dig deeper into some of the numbers I have been following over the first couple days. One thing that I mentioned in previous blogs was following the KenPom ratings heading into the tournament. After the field was announced I matched the KenPom ratings to each team in the dance and wanted to see how many higher rated teams would win their first round, aka second round games. According to these ratings on Monday, the higher rated teams won 22 out of 32 games straight up and these 22 teams went 19-3 against the spread. The 10 games the higher seeds lost, they went 0-9-1 ats, due to the fact most of them were favorites. *All ats results were found at covers.com. So if you blindly would have bet all of KenPom’s higher rated teams you would have finished 19-12-1 ats through the first 32 games. KenPom’s ratings change, so for the purpose of my research I only used the ratings right after selection Sunday and will continue to throughout the tournament.
Another interesting angle I wanted to look up was how teams performed after winning their conference tournaments. There were 27 teams that entered Thursday and Friday who won conference tournaments and 12 of them are continuing on. To be fair to these teams most of them were underdogs from mid-majors and 5 games had tournament winners facing each other. If we look at these teams against the spread they went 8-8-1, eliminating the 10 teams who were paired against each other. This angle did not prove to be as rewarding as the KenPom ratings were, but still can not be overlooked. Even though this did not bring much success ats, I do feel teams winning conference tournaments could be riding high as Lehigh, Norfolk State, VCU, Colorado and Ohio all pulled off upsets in the round of 64 as 11 seeds or higher. With big programs losing more and more players to the NBA you are definitely seeing the competitive gap closing in college basketball. Mid-Majors and non-power programs are landing big recruits and for us the fans providing some entertaining games.
As always with my blog I like to look for interesting angles or numbers to follow within the sports world. Was there anything that happened through the first set of games that caught your eye? What upsets are most likely to happen in the round of 32?
My final blog breaking down the numbers heading into the tourney tomorrow will focus on SOS, KenPom ratings, RPI and record vs. RPI top 50. When picking teams for the bracket we always hear two key factors used by the selection committee, RPI and SOS. The committee places a great deal of emphasis on challenging yourself during the year and winning key games. Below is a chart of all the teams seeded 1 thru 14 with their RPI, SOS and KenPom rating heading into the tournament. During the tournament I want to focus on SOS and if playing a challenging regular season schedule relates to success in the big dance. The main reason for this is every year there are teams scrutinized for not playing a hard enough schedule and either missing out on the tournament or getting punished by seed. Murray State is a good example of a team who finished 30-1 and in the top ten but received a 6 seed. The committee did keep them close to home so now they must prove they can beat better quality teams when it counts. A new stat category I have added to my research this year was the KenPom rating. I’ll admit, I am a little late to the party on this rating and it is well-respected among the college basketball community. I am not going to do anything tricky with this; I want to follow if teams with a higher rating according to him perform better than teams with a lower rating (Even though it was the biggest comeback in NCAA history, BYU was rated higher than Iona in last night’s game). In conclusion, there are endless amounts of data you can analyze when betting college basketball or simply filling out your bracket. I have described what I am going to focus on this year and hopefully something useful will come out of it.
Some notes on the chart:
RPI, Record vs. RPI top 50 and SOS were all pulled from warrennolan.com team pages.
As mentioned in a prior blog, I am continuing on with my breakdown of key stats for the March Madness bracket. Now that the field is set I am curious to know if the numbers used to determine which teams make the tourney, their seed and location relate to success in it. This is the second part to my original neutral court success blog I published a couple of weeks ago. Instead of just naming the teams who have succeeded or haven’t on neutral courts, I put together a chart of all the teams seeded 1 through 14 with their neutral court record and neutral court power rating. Remember, the reason this stat jumped out to me, the past 2 national champions both entered the tournament with an undefeated regular season neutral court record and won their conference tournament championship.
To stay consistent with my prior blog I used warrennolan.com to put together the neutral court records. I combined regular season neutral court record with conference tournament record for the chart. In addition to this, I also used the teamrankings.com neutral court power rating. All neutral court wins or losses are not treated equal and some of the websites I researched gave credit to teams for a neutral court win or loss where others did not. Since teamrankings.com takes more factors into account than just overall record I felt cross referencing the two sites would paint a clearer picture.
I know some of these numbers might not tell a perfect story but due to the past couple years and my curiosity I feel this is an important stat to follow for the next few tournaments and track the results. Below you will see the chart breakdown, but 5 teams that jump out at me are Missouri, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Murray State, and Creighton.
Some notes on the chart:
Chart is in order according to each teams power rating.
Only teams seeded 1 through 14 were used.
Only teams in the tournament were pulled from teamrankings.com.
Harvard had no postseason tourney.
Teams who have their conference tourney on their home court, wins/losses were not included in the power rating.
Here in Las Vegas it’s that time of year again, NASCAR is in town for the Kobalt Tools 400 and the Mountain West Championship tips off at noon with Boise State taking on two time defending champion San Diego State. A topic of conversation always surrounding this tournament is UNLV benefiting from it being on their home court. UNLV has been a great host the past few years by only winning three games and watching other schools celebrate on their home floor. Even though UNLV enjoys the comfort of playing at home, they definitely have not taken advantage of it and hasn’t won the title since 2008. San Diego State has enjoyed the most success recently in the Thomas and Mack playing in the last three championship games, winning two of them.
Outllook: Heading into todays games you have to look at San Diego State making a fourth consecutive trip to the finals. Earning the number one seed due to a tiebreaker they will either play TCU or Colorado State in the semifinals. This game will not be easy, but unless and upset happens, UNLV and New Mexico will be paired up on the other side of the bracket and will be a much more difficult game to survive. With that being said, I do feel the best possible case for an upset this year will be Colorado State over San Diego State in the semifinals. If the Rams can get past TCU today they might find their best possibilty of advancing to finals since they won the tournament in 2003. Overall, I feel the home court does play an advantage this year and UNLV caps off an undefeated season in the Thomas & Mack.
Odds to win Mountain West Conference tournament:
- UNLV +140
- New Mexico +180
- San Diego State +300
- Colorado State +1000
- Wyoming +2000
- TCU +2000
- Boise State +4000
- Air Force +10000
*Numbers from LVH Superbook
- 12:00 p.m. Bosie State vs San Diego State
- 2:30 p.m. TCU vs Colorado State
- 6:00 p.m. Air Force vs New Mexico
- 8:30 p.m. Wyoming vs UNLV
All-Time Conference Tournament Record:
- UNLV – 20-8 .714
- San Diego State – 16-8 .667
- Colorado State – 7-11 .389
- New Mexico – 7-11 .389
- Wyoming – 7-12 .368
- TCU – 2-6 .250
- Air Force – 2-12 .143
- Boise State – First Appearance
For more Mountain West Tournament hitsoryclick here.
I am going to write a multi-part blog breaking down the NCAA bracket heading into the tournament which starts March 13-14 with the First Four. With all the who’s in, who’s out talk come selection Sunday I thought looking inside some of the numbers that determine who makes the tournament could correlate with tournament success. Some of the categories I will be focusing on will be sos, non-conference sos, rpi including record vs. top 50 rpi, and how teams performed on neutral courts.
The first category of focus will be on neutral court performance. With some of the conference tournaments starting today it is a good time to evaluate how teams did on neutrals courts since most of the conference tournaments are held on them. The past two national champions had undefeated neutral court records both during the regular season and conference tournament. During the 2009-2010 season Duke finished with a combined 12-0 neutral court record and ACC tournament championship. Like Duke, last year’s national champion Connecticut finished with a combined 14-0 record and Big East tournament championship. I know the sample size is small but also interesting.
The following list of teams had success on neutral courts during the regular season (used only top 50 RPI teams, must have played at least 3 games, and remained unbeaten):
- Duke (5-0)
- Missouri (4-0)
- Florida (4-0)
- Kentucky (4-0)
- Marquette (4-0)
- Baylor (3-0)
- Alabama (3-0)
- St. Louis (3-0)
- Harvard (3-0)
- Northwestern (3-0)
I will do a follow up blog on neutral court records after the conference tournaments and track any teams who remain perfect. There were a number of teams who were 2-0 but I feel that sample is too small. If any of these teams win their respective conference tournaments they will be included in the update.
After the conference tournaments are complete I will also break down how teams with a high ranking in RPI, SOS, and non-conference SOS fared in past tournaments and let’s see how this year’s tournament shakes out.