Here we go! Second day of the most wonderful time of the year!
So now that the brackets are out and Michigan has drawn a 4 seed in the South Region, I thought I'd take a look at how 4 seeds have fared in tournaments past, going back to when the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Surprisingly, Googling "Historical Performance of Seeds in NCAA Tournament" yields a plethora of data that just begs to be analyzed statistically and have conclusions drawn over which one can agonize. I wish the news were better.
The News Is Bad? How Bad?
In the 28 years since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams, squads seeded fourth have won grand total of 167 games for a per tournament average of 5.96 wins, give or take 2.06 wins. Essentially this falls in line with confirming chalk. If you're a 4 seed, you're a great bet to win your first game, a 50/50ish bet to win your 2nd, and then you're probably ewww. This probably doesn't come as a surprise, since if you're a 4 seed coming out of the first weekend, you're probably facing the 1 seed, and beating a one seed is hard.
So It's Hopeless Then?
Well no, it's not hopeless. Being a 4 seed is definately better than being a 5 or higher; as the numbers show that fortunes for teams not seeded in the Top 16 of the tourney fall precipitiously. For all the romance that media-types assign to "Cinderellas" in the tounament; runs like George Mason or Villanova are very much the exception.
Since 1985, 11 four seeds have advanced to the Final Four in 10 separate NCAA Tournaments (The 1990 Tournament saw 4 seeds Georgia Tech and Arkansas both advance to the Final Four). Of those 11 teams that managed to make it the Final Four, 2 of them advanced to the Finals (Syracuse 1996, Arizona 1997), with only Lute Olsen's 1997 Arizona Wildcats having the stuff to find themselves hoisting the championship trophy.
The only precedent we have to lean on, but there is a precedent
Only One Champion In 28 Seasons? That Sounds Pretty Hopeless.
Well, it does occur to me that this only has any real meaning if there is something to compare it against, say the 1 - 3 seeds. This sounds like a perfect opportunity for a...
|1 Seed||2 Seed||3 Seed||4 Seed|
|Final Four Appearances||46||25||14||11|
|FF Success Rate||41%||22%||13%||10%|
|Champ. Success Rate||61%||14%||14%||4%|
Lest we forget, one of those four 3 seeds is 1989 Michigan, woo!
So yeah, big surprise here. One and two seeds make up 2/3rds of all the teams that have appeared in the Final Four and have won 75% of all the titles since 1985. This can mean one of two things. One, that the Selection Committee is very good at seeding teams based on their relative strength or two, the path of the one and two seeds is conducive for advancing. Personally, I tend to think it's more Door #2 than Door #1. The real takeaway from this with regards to Michigan 2013 is that the distinction between a 3 and 4 seed seems to be pretty small.
[EDIT: I would like to point out the anomaly that while 2 seeds appear in the Final Four about half the rate of 1 seeds and twice the rate of 3 and 4 seeds, they only come away with a quarter of the titles, a disproportionately low number. Y U no pull your weight in the Finals two seeds?]
So What Does This All Mean For Our Guys?
Well, I'd rather see us as a 3 seed personally, and was a bit miffed to find us slide from a predicted 2 seed to a 4 based upon one loss to Wisconsin (F#*k, Wisconsin), but then I think the Selection Committee has undervalued the competitiveness of the B1G in general with the brackets. I am looking forward to seeing Michigan play some non-Big Ten competition. I think we'll be pleasantly surprised at how good we suddenly look again, assuming the guys haven't completely lost their confidence.
Still, Michigan has it's work cut out for it as the four seeds have historically had tough sledding in the NCAA Tournament. I do take some comfort in the words of my old Econ professor who liked to remind his class that, "past performance is no guarantee of future earnings". Here's to a deep, entertaining, and trend-bucking tournament run from the 2013 Wolverines. Go Blue!
Another game, another series of questionable calls, another torrent of frustration on the MgoBoard.
The B1G is the best conference in basketball this year, but one thing appears to be the same this year as every year: B1G officials let a lot of physical play go, and the games are tough as a result.
In past seasons the question has been asked, "Does this hurt Big Ten teams in the tournament?" The logic being that the NCAA tournament is not called the same way the B1G regular season is. I don't think the contrast in officiating has changed much, but there is one thing that has:
I wonder if Michigan, as it is built this year, is better-suited to winning in the NCAA tournament than in its own conference. As we've progressed into the meat of the conference season, Michigan continues to be good at shooting 3s and moving the ball in transition, but as B1G teams bog games down into half-court grindfests and officials allow muggings underneath the basket, Michigan's penetration offense has become significantly less substantial.
In the tournament, Michigan's ability to stay out of foul trouble will be a big plus, and defenders won't get away with handchecking Burke and mauling our frontcourt. All of the adjustments other B1G teams have to make are ones that come naturally to this club. Won't this play to Michigan's strengths when the games really matter?
An oddity of this year's NCAA tournament: with New Mexico's loss tonight, the westernmost remaining team is Baylor. Waco is east of the geographical center of the contiguous 48; with 24 teams remaining, the western half of the US has been entirely eliminated.
That's never happened before. Only once in the 62 tournaments played since they went to 16 teams in 1951 has the Sweet Sixteen been without a team west of Texas, in 1985. But UNLV didn't exit the tournament until Sunday of that year, so they were still in at this point.
I don't know what, if anything, to make of this. I'd be more inclined to think it was just a random quirk if some high west coast seeds had been upset, but as it was the PAC-12 could barely scrape together even one tournament-worthy team.
I have a suspicion that the relative lack of exposure of the PAC-12 since their games went to Fox is hurting recruiting there; the MWC has also slid their games onto less exposed networks.
On the other hand you could put together a pretty good team just out of UCLA transfers, so maybe that isn't the whole story.
I have to give credit for the idea of this post to User "ijohnb" and his thread http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/open-work-not-working-tourney-thread but I wanted to create a spin-off and start a different discussion:
What is your favorite personal story relating to the NCAA tournament? It can be anything, no matter how tangentially related to the tournament. Here are my top 2:
(1) Trip to Vegas for the first two rounds of the tournament. That place is insane at tournament time - the games start at 9am and continue into the night. We camped out at Mandalay Bay where they had a huge screen set up and arranged for waitresses to take orders. Oh, and I won a few bucks by betting on Michigan in an NIT game.
(2) Attending a first round game back in 1991 that featured the Richmond Spiders (15 seed) beating Syracuse (2 seed), the first time a #2 had ever beaten a #15. The crowd was going ape-sh-t!
What say you?
It's a 3 or a 4. Here's how it breaks down.
Unless craziness happens, Baylor and Marquette have 3-seeds locked down. Here are the remaining teams competing for the last two slots. Stats according to CBS. In no particular order:
Remember UConn last year shot up all the way to a 3-seed with their Big East tournament run. Louisville, despite finishing the regular season slow, has the opportunity to do similar here. FSU, if they were to beat Duke and UNC on back to back nights, would have a case for themselves as well. Georgetown's numbers are very similar to Michigan's and both had rather ignominous conference tournament exits. At this point, it seems unlikely that either Indiana or Wisconsin would pass Michigan on the NCAA S-Curve, but crazier things have happened.
Tomorrow you are rooting for North Carolina to crush Florida State and eliminate one of the contenders. It'd be nice if Cincinnati won tonight, but it does not appear that is going to happen, so we're stuck with Louisville for the time being. In the most likely scenario it comes down to Georgetown vs Michigan for the last 3-seed, and we're splitting hairs at that point so it's guess work as to what the selection committee will decide.
Fortunately, there have been a lot of upsets in the mid-major conference tournaments and the overall competitiveness of the 13 and lower seeds has seen a significant drop in the last week.
Here are the teams that are likely to be 13 and 14 seeds (Michigan's likeliest opening round opponents, in no particular order):
|Long Beach St||13||38||122|
|New Mexico St||13||64||116|
|South Dakota St||13||45||184|
Long Beach St would be the worst draw here, and I'm hoping they move up in the S-Curve to a 12 seed or better. They beat Xavier and Pittsburgh and they lost by single digits in road games vs UNC, Kansas and Louisville (i.e. they can play with anyone).
South Dakota St's best wins come over Oral Roberts and Washington. Common opponents they split their season series with Oakland and lost to Minnesota by 16.
Colorado has a bunch of Pac-12 wins and not much else to speak of. They lost OOC to Wichita St, Colorado St, and Maryland. They are not a good team on paper but someone had to win the P12 Tournament!
New Mexico St managed to beat New Mexico on the road and that is it on their list of impressive games.
Belmont is another scary draw. Their wins this year aren't flashy but they took Duke to the wire, losing by 1 point at Cameron. They also lost on the road to Memphis.
Montana has an impressive win streak going but they have played the weakest schedule of this pack of teams. Their best win came over Long Beach St at home.
Ohio who nipped Akron for the MAC title, wouldn't it be fun to draw this team in the first round. What would we chant? Ohio (not THAT ohio) has no real impressive wins to speak of and didn't play a grueling schedule. Their best "win" was a 5 point loss at Louisville back at the start of the season.
Davidson's results read something like, boring boring boring, WTF-beat-Kansas, boring boring boring. They beat Kansas on the road by 6 back in December. Their other 4 games vs respectable tournament quality opponents were all losses.
Cackle With Knowing Glee: New Mexico St, South Dakota St, Colorado, Montana, or Ohio
Worry If: Belmont, Davidson, or Long Beach St (or whomever Long Beach Supplants from the 12-line).
Good night and see you after the selection show tomorrow.
TLDR: The three seed is currently a coin flip. We have a really good chance to have a team we should throttle in the opening round.