this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
i am constantly frightened by things that involve pitino
Quicknote: If you're thinking about going to the Final Four, you know that MGoTicket Center button we have up all the time? …on the front page? …right under the board?
Pitino! Is no seed safe from your wrath?
Welcome back to the Final Four. It's been awhile: 20 years if you're going by memory, longer if O'Brien* is to be believed. For some reason I can probably pin on puberty and my 2400 baud modem, we missed the opportunity to chart the hell out of it at the time, a chance I will not pass up again. Link to my data.
Sample size and all that, but if you're filling out a bracket of four teams you still favor the 1 seed. A Cinderella run seems to be as likely to end here as anywhere else. I'd venture that Michigan and Syracuse are uncommonly good 4-seeds. M spent time as the AP #1 earlier this season and 'cuse might have if they hadn't lost right when the opportunity presented itself. Twelve teams in 2013 spent at least a week with a Top 3 AP ranking this year, a quick metric of how small a difference there was between the 1s and 4s. You know Michigan's anecdote about the rim at Indiana and the half-court heave in the Trohl Center. Previous years that was 8, 9, 8, 8, 6, 7, 6, 10. I had to go back to 2004 to find similar parity among the top field (that produced a Final Four of a 1-seed, two 2's and a 3).
Distance is No Problem
I plugged a lot of driving directions into Google Maps to get a picture of how distance from the championship site affects outcome but the findings weren't near so dramatic as I'd hypothesized:
If it mattered you'd see a lot more colors clumped toward the bottom. Until you get within 200 miles of home there seemed to be no hometown help; interestingly being a state (200 to 500 miles) away seemed to work as a detriment—realm of the rival fans perhaps?
|Miles from Home||Favored||Even||Dogs||All|
|0 to 200||5-1||4-1||1-0||7-2|
|201 to 500||4-11||4-4||0-7||5-12|
|501 to 1,000||21-20||17-15||4-5||29-24|
(Hover over headers for explanations)
If you live in proximity to a Spartan you probably remember a couple of those well, like Butler playing a virtual home game in 2010 or MSU beating UConn at Ford Field before falling to UNC. Flight miles or time zones traveled didn't affect Final Four results: teams traveled on average 1,027 miles; those that advanced were an 1,001 miles away from home, and the losers were 1,052 miles away.
4-Seeds in the Final Four
'97 Arizona is the only 4-seed to win it all. Tucson Citizen
It's not that big of a deal in this round since Michigan is playing another 4 in Syracuse but I took a look at the history of the seed anyway.
|Team||Final Four Opp.||Result||Site||Distance|
|2013 Michigan||Syracuse (4)||?||Atlanta||709|
|2013 Syracuse||Michigan (4)||?||Atlanta||964|
|2012 Louisville||Kentucky (1)||L 61-69||New Orleans||708|
|2011 Kentucky||UConn||L 55-56||Houston||990|
|2006 LSU||UCLA (2)||L 45-59||Indianapolis||848|
|2005 Louisville||Illinois (1)||L 57-72||St. Louis||260|
|1999 Ohio State||Connecticut (1)||L 58-64||St. Petersburg||1045|
|1997 Arizona||North Carolina (1)||W 66-58||Indianapolis||1728|
|1996 Syracuse||Miss. St. (5)||W 77-69||E. Rutherford||242|
|1995 Okla. St.||UCLA (1)||L 61-74||Seattle||1949|
|1992 Cincinnati||Michigan (6)||L 72-76||Minneapolis||702|
|1990 Arkansas||Duke (3)||L 83-87||Denver||807|
|1990 Georgia Tech||UNLV (1)||L 81-90||Denver||1401|
|1983 Georgia||N.C. State (6)||L 60-67||Albuquerque||1459|
The winner on Saturday will be just the third on this list of 14 to advance to the championships since the tournament went to 40 teams. Ready for the weird: both times it happened they played Rick Pitino's Kentucky teams in the championship ('97 Zona won, '96 Cuse lost). If Louisville beats Wichita State as expected, there'll be another Pitino team waiting.
/searches for "I am constantly frightened by things that involve Pitino" tag, doesn't find one, creates it.
* I don't mean this in the charges shouldn't have been leveled sort of way, but in the wiping records is personal pet peeve of mine sort of way.