"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
Kenpom. The all-knowing. This year's best team not invited was #45 Florida. The worst team in is #250 Hampton. I had to know, so I looked up the worst team in the history of Kenpom (since 2002) to be invited to the Dance. It's Mississippi Valley State, the 298th team in 2008.
In fact there's a pretty enormous drop-off from most of the 16 seeds and the MEAC and SWAC entrants, who had an average Pyth of 0.296 (i.e. they'd win less than 30% of their games vs. an average opponent). For reference, the worst Big Ten teams in that span (2003-2005 Penn State) were .361, .334, and .341 respectively. In fact I only found six power conference teams—2013 TCU, 2008 Oregon State, 2012 Utah, 2013 Mississippi State, 2012 BC and 2011 Wake Forest—who've ever been worse than the average MEAC or SWAC champion. I get the part about giving the top seeds basically a bye, but the tournament can find more deserving small schools than whoever won a conference tournament whose competition level is below that of many high school leagues.
For what it's worth, Kentucky this year is the best team in the history of Kenpom. The only two in sniffing distance were 2008 Kansas and 2013 Louisville.
Seth's Annual Matchup Maker. This lets you set a chaos factor and match any two opponents, immediately seeing where the game will be played and any relevant injuries. You just input the teams and the round. Front page looks thus:
The Power Rank. Listeners to Brian's weekly roundtable on WTKA know Ed Feng. Ed creates this:
(right is zoomed)
…interactive chart using his win probabilities so you can see how stupid your picks are relative to each other. Run around the circle to make sure you haven't picked a dead in the water first round upset, but I think he's best at end game. This year you can see Kentucky is in a league of its own, then Zona, Duke, Nova, Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Virginia are a clear second tier.
Bracket Science Bracketmaster. Peter Tiernan is getting better at monetizing his comprehensive bracket database, which is unfortunate because I really liked to use the Bracketmaster for patterns, like what kind of team does Wisconsin usually lose to in the tourney, has this coach been to the Dance before, and things that super hardcore NCAA basketball fans know and I don't know offhand because I was off the wagon for a time. If you don't mind paying (there are far worse people you can give money to than Tiernan) you can get all the goodies, but the free stuff is great for narratives, for example if you want to track how Big Ten teams have fared since 2005 vs other Power Confs:
WSJ's Blind Comparison. The Wall Street Journal's blindfold bracket is your bias check, though this year they didn't do, opting instead for a slider-based bracket generator using things like "defense wins championships!"
Disclaimer: You will be wrong.
Iowa State - #3 Seed, East
Other than the Raiders of the Lost Ark-style rolling boulder of death that is Michigan State, it’s a pretty favorable draw for Iowa State. They get North Carolina Central, North Carolina Classic, and Villanova (which is probably in North Carolina, but I don’t feel like checking). They have the horses to run with anyone (Melvin Ejim was the Big 12 player of the year over Andrew Wiggins). I’ve got them in the Final Four, despite none of these games being played at Hilton.
Dook - #3 Seed, Midwest
If both survive, Michigan will meet Duke in the Sweet 16. This one will be in Indianapolis, which is a long way from Cameron. That should help. But Jabari Parker will be there. So that won’t help.
Arizona - #1 Seed, West
The tournament’s second overall seed, they might kind of have a cakewalk through their region. Wisconsin hasn’t been past the Sweet 16 in a decade. Neither San Diego State nor Oklahoma is particularly scary. Creighton has the potential to be an aerial death-bringer, but if Doug McDermott doesn’t have four good nights in a row it’s hard to see Creighton in the Final Four, and four good nights in a row is asking a lot.
I wouldn’t worry too much about late season losses to Oregon and to UCLA in the PAC 12 tournament; this is a team that seems to have found some balance and returned to form.
Stanford - #10 Seed, South
Stanford returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons, ensuring in the process that Michigan DID beat a tournament team in the non-conference schedule. Their opening round matchup with New Mexico features two of the biggest teams in the country. If they survive that matchup, they get also-tall (though Embiid-less) Kansas. Tough to see them making it to the Sweet 16, but they probably accomplished their goal for the season, so it’s house money from here on in.
Florida State #1-seed, NIT
In Which We Look At Brackets
To clarify, this is NOT A RANKING, and should not be deemed an attempt to supplant the wisdom of Angry Michigan KenPom Defiance Hating God. It is simply a rundown of tournament teams, and the natural way to list such teams is by seed order.
Again, for the avoidance of doubt: not a ranking. Just a list. Organized by seed.
Michigan - #2 Seed, Midwest
Opening Round: vs. #15 Wofford. The Terriers were 20-12 in the Southern Conference. They have one KenPom top-200 win this year… against #200 Elon. Ace has you covered with a preview, but sufficed to say that this one is not scary, which should scare you, because it is March.
The Draw: Gets the winner of Texas/
Kansas Arizona State [ED: Must avenge bowl game...] in the second round, probably #3 Duke in the Sweet 16, and probably the winner of #1 Wichita State and #4 Louisville in the Elite 8.
Thing: It’s a rough draw to after the opening weekend, that’s for damn sure. My theory is that the Committee basically said that if they HAD to give Wichita State a 1-seed, they would. And they threw them in a region with their second highest 2 seed (a team that was in the running for a 1-seed like an hour before the brackets came out), and their highest-rated 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 seeds. Subtle, that.
Thing They Are Like: A team with some unfinished business.
[AFTER THE JUMP: More teams playing in various tournaments. Also Indiana]
RPI Effect Only Teams
If you care, Michigan played the following teams: UMass-Lowell (10-18), Houston Baptist (6-23), South Carolina State (9-19), Coppin State (10-19), Long Beach State (13-15), and Charlotte (15-13). But while I don’t want to say these games didn’t MATTER, they didn’t, you know, matter. Except the Charlotte game, because blerg. Michigan’s fate will be determines by larger narratives. Not many people are going to hammer too hard on RPI when you’re talking the difference between a 2 seed and a 3 seed. So, let us move along.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12)
This week: Lost @ Kansas State (80-73); Lost @ Baylor (74-61)
Michigan probably moved ahead of Iowa State for good by virtue of Iowa State’s rough week. Bracketmatrix has them as the last 3 seed, it’s unlikely a home win over bubble team Oklahoma State (side note: how did THAT happen?) would get them past Michigan.
Florida State (18-11, 9-8 ACC)
This week: Beat Georgia Tech (81-71); Won @ Boston College (74-70)
Florida State met two necessary conditions for an NCAA bid this week. Losing to either of those teams would’ve probably been the end of things for the Seminoles. The good news is that Syracuse also seems very beatable, so it’s possible for Florida State to close strong. The problem is that now a win over Syracuse wouldn’t bring the cache it would have two or three weeks ago, so they might still need to do some work in the conference tourney.
From a Michigan standpoint, though, FSU doesn’t really matter all that much anymore. No one cares about your 6th best win, and pretty much Michigan's entire seeding case rests in its conference schedule. So if you’d really like to see some more #Nebrasketball, you might be hoping they drop their last couple of games to clear some room at the bubble.
#4 Dook (23-7, 12-5 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Wake Forest (YTWF) (82-72)
This was a gift on a number of fronts. Duke’s loss potentially leaves some wiggle room for Michigan to move up to a 2-seed. Also, Duke’s loss was a loss for Duke, which is a win for Not Duke. We are Not Duke. So, let’s compare the two teams right now:
|Record||KenPom||Losses (KP ranks)||Best wins (KP)||Is Duke?|
|MICHIGAN||22-7||10||1, 8, 11, 12, 28, 69, 182||11, 12, 13, 17, 17||No|
|DUKE||23-7||8||1, 6, 14, 23, 51, 92, 113||2, 10, 14, 15, 25||Yes|
I dunno, that’s close.
#3 Arizona (28-2, 15-2 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Stanford (79-66), Beat Arizona State (74-69)
It's hard to blame Arizona for a less-than-dominant performance against ASU. They'd clinched pretty much everything there was to clinch (PAC 12 title, #1 seed in the PAC 12 tourney, likely #1 seed, helped RichRod kill the 10 second rule), and sometimes it's hard to get up for games that don't much matter.
One potential cause for concern is depth. Arizona is really only rolling about 6 guys deep, which is working fine for them now, but if they run up against a team that draws a lot of fouls, it could be an issue. But no, Michigan isn't one of those teams.
Stanford (18-11, 9-8 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona (79-66); Lost to Colorado (59-56)
According to Bill Walton (who called the Stanford/Colorado game), Stanford's loss is a lot like the Punic War if it was fought by Muppets; you're not sure where they got the weapons, but you can't expect them to be back in time for lunch.
I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that, but Stanford's bid is in real trouble. Bracketmatrix had them as a 10-seed before the loss to the Buffs, so they still have some work to do. And not that it matters, but it would be nice for Michigan to have at least ONE win over a tournament team from its non-conference schedule.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Michigan, and all the teams that finished behind Michigan because Michigan finished ahead of everyone who isn't Michigan]