NCAA Basketball Tournament Tidbits
by Trevor Whenham - 03/17/2008
There is so much tournament information floating around that I feel like I could get buried in it all. Some of it is truly helpful, and some of it is completely useless. I'll let you decide for yourself if this stuff matters or not, but here is a collection of some of the more interesting NCAA Basketball Tournament tidbits that I have uncovered in the last few days:
- Virtually all of the tournament winners have been coached by guys who have taken a team to the tournament at least four times. Tournament success doesn't often come to coaches in their first run or two regardless of how good they may be. Keep that in mind before you pencil Drake into the Final Four.
- An upset of a No. 2 seed by a No. 15 can be very tempting to pick, but just don't. Keep this in mind - the average number of wins for a No. 2 seed since 1985 is 2.43. For a 15 it is 0.04. You might get a handsome payoff if you correctly pick an upset, but the odds won't reflect the real chances of it happening. They won't even come close.
- The RPI may be a frustratingly inexact measurement, but it does a decent job of forecasting tournament success. Seven of the last nine winners have ended up the regular season in the top 10 in RPI, and all nine have been in the top 15. Louisville, Stanford and Wisconsin all fall outside the top 10 this year.
- Twenty of the last 23 winners fit all of the following criteria - they come from one of the six power conferences, they were seeded in the top four spots, they averaged at least 76 points per game during the regular season, they won those games by an average of at least 10 points, and they played in the tournament the previous year. Do with that what you will. Or ignore it if you like Memphis.
- You can read lots of experts telling you that free throw percentage is a big indicator of tournament success. That should mean that no one will win the potential Memphis-Pitt Sweet 16 game. Pitt is just 231st in the country at free throw efficiency, but that looks pretty good compared to Memphis and their sweet 327th spot showing. Apparently Shaq is a consultant for both teams.
- A No. 1 or No. 2 seed has been in the championship game every year but one since 1989. Keep that in mind before you try to outsmart yourself in your bracket selection and handicapping. Teams get high seeds for a reason - because they are really good.
- The last nine champions have all come from the Eastern Time Zone. That probably is just a coincidence, but I might hedge my bets on UCLA just in case.
- Every winner since 1987 has had blue on their uniforms. I guess that means I have to go back to the drawing board with my Cornell pick.
- Seven of the last 10 winners have also won their conference tournaments. They have all come from power conferences, obviously, so that means you should pay special attention to North Carolina, Pitt, Kansas, Wisconsin, UCLA and Georgia. That's a totally manageable list of six teams if you believe that this trend is strong enough to consider. You can probably make it even more manageable by eliminating Georgia - it seems highly unlikely that they would capture magic in a bottle twice in a row.
- Don't bet on a rematch of last year's final. It's just not going to happen. If you don't know why then you still have a bunch of homework to do before the first game.