22 March 2009

NCAAs Round 2 Analysis

We're down to the Sweet 16, and it looks like this year is shaping up much like last year with the "power conferences" dominating. The two remaining dance crashers are Gonzaga and Xavier, two 4 seeds that have been ranked most of the year and were seeded to make it this far. Ho hum.

Why have the last couple of years gone more or less according to plan? Why hasn't a George Mason come out of the woodwork to captivate the college basketball nation? I am of the opinion that this is just part of the randomness of college basketball and athletics more generally (some sports are more random than others, but that is neither here nor there). What we have seen the past couple of years are simply a couple of observations in which things went according to plan. I don't think there is any trend here, and the chances of next year going "mad" is just as likely as it was this year, last year, or in all the years since the rules for the entry into the NBA changed (one of the key exogenous variables that I think does affect NCAA teams differently -- there are others but this is the biggest recent shock to the system -- the economy may be another if things continue to go down the crapper).

I will say that I find the results disappointing since it is more fun to root for the underdog. You have to suspect that "small school" fans are chagrined by this year's results, particularly since Arizona, their poster child for the undeserving bid that was stolen from a smaller school, is still standing. With results like the past couple of years, these fans can probably expect more bias towards the major conference schools for the at-large bids (which is good news for Northwestern, I guess).

Below is a continuation of the Round 1 Analysis I posted a couple of days ago...

Actual Predicted Difference
Round 2 (based on Round 1 results and seeds)
BgE 5-1 5-1 +0
B12 3-3 3-3 +0
ACC 2-1 2-1 +0
B10 2-2 1-3 +1
P10 1-4 1-4 +0
SEC 0-1 0-1 +0

Conclusion? Round 2 went largely to plan. I suppose that the Big 10 outperformed, but that is a bit of a stretch as the +1 is due to 5 Purdue beating 4 Washington, not exactly a stunner.

Another way to look at the tourney results so far is that 14 of the top 16 seeds made it to the Sweet 16. The two crashers are Purdue and 12 Arizona (4 Wake Forest flamed out in the first round to Cleveland St). I guess this suggests that the Big Ten has done slightly better than expected while the ACC has done worse (see my Round 1 analysis, plus WF's absence from long weekend #2 of the tourney). The Big XII and Pac 10 have done slightly better than expected primarily because of their Round 1 results. Again -- Ho hum.

I have to say that I was uber-impressed with Memphis. They look like an NBA team again with their length on the perimeter and girth down on the blocks. Weren't they decimated by NBA defections after last year's loss in the national championship game (which reminds me --Calipari is such a bonehead for allowing Kansas to hoist a three to send the game into OT)? It is impressive that they could reload so quickly. Thad Matta is good at stocking his roster with elite athletes, but it seems Calipari has outdone even him.

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