Mike Lantry, 1972
2012/2013 Michigan Basketball
The difficulty of our region with Florida as the three seed got me thinking: if, other than Michigan's games, all remaining matchups play out according to seeding and Michigan wins the national title, would it be the most difficult path of all time? Here's what that path would be, with current Kenpom rankings included:
I'm guessing previous winners have had paths nearly that difficult, but this would be quite a murderer's row.
Brad Evans of Yahoo sports calling Michigan one of 6 “bracket lames”. States their defense will give them an early departure from the tourney. Other lames they mention: Gonzaga, New Mexico, Marquette, Florida, and Arizona.
Overall, not too kind, including such gems as "Blinding opponents with its retina-damaging florescent yellow uniforms hasn't even helped." Last line of article sums up their whole take; “Michigan is currently in the midst of a rebirth under John Beilein, but unless it maximizes defensively, its Final Four drought will surely continue.”
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!
A fifth and final look at the remaining schedules:
Take a look at joeyb's write-up in the board section about rooting interests- he does a good job at describing potential outcomes. Seeding will likely be a hot mess...
Who has the hardest schedule?:
|GAME 17||GAME 18|
|INDIANA||Tue- OSU||Sun- @ MICH|
|MICHIGAN||Wed- @ PURD||Sun- INDIANA|
|MICHIGAN ST||Th- WISC||Sun- NW|
|OHIO ST||Tue- @ INDIANA||Sun- ILLINOIS|
|WISCONSIN||Th- @ MSU||Sun- @ PSU|
In the past I have made scoring systems to rank upcoming schedule etc.- think with two games left that is not necessary. OSU has the toughest in my mind because @Indiana. Indiana has a tough schedule as well- but has co-champ locked down. Wisconsin has two road games, but @MSU and @PSU is easier that Indiana at home and @Purdue in my mind- but I think they will likely lose @MSU. MSU has the easiest schedule left in my mind- two home games and NW- but they are on a skid...
Thoughts on remaining teams:
Indiana: Already guaranteed at least a split. They do have two tough games- home against Ohio State and away in Crisler. Everyone else is rooting for them to lose both- because if not- we have an undisputed champ. OSU will be a tough game, but I don’t think it is probable Indiana loses its last home game. I think it is still 50-50 against us. I think they are the better team- but we are very solid at home- and played them well in Indiana. They have will be playing to wrap up a 1 seed regardless of Big Ten Tournament as well.
Michigan: Well last week was weird… PSU loss really sucks no way around it. Have to respect PSU playing hard all year- and glad that didn’t go undefeated- but really not glad what it means for a title chance and that the win was against us. 50-50 against Indiana, and at Purdue is looking quite winnable- but with our road struggles it gives me pause.
Michigan State: Let’s see if MSU’s slide continues. Northwestern has fallen apart- and at home that should be an easy W. I personally hope they beat Wisconsin because I don’t want Wisconsin having a shot a shared title- although I think Indiana has that taken care of (let’s hope I’m wrong).
Ohio State: Last week they looked very out of it- only to have Michigan blow a gimme, MSU go on a big slide, and Indiana give them some semblance of hope. At Indiana is huge for everybody- and rooting for OSU will be cringe worthy- but my god that would be huge. If we beat Purdue and OSU pulls the upset Sunday could be one hell of a night.
Wisconsin: At MSU is a tough one and I covered that above. Let’s hope PSU can get win number 2 (or 3?) as well. Wish we had Wisconsin at home- don’t think they would keep us too close at home. If we play them in Big Ten Tournament I would not be too worried… but seriously f*** Wisconsin.
|15-3||14-4||13-5||12-6 or Worse|
Indiana has wrapped up a split- and is clearly in great shape for it to be a solo champion. I say only 10% chance they lose to OSU and us with having so much to play for, being so consistent, and having a home game. And for non-Indiana teams 2 losses is all anyone cares about for the boys from Bloomington.
I say MSU has the best odd at staying with 5-losses. Wisconsin at home will be tough, but NW should not be.
We have the next best bet because I think we will take care of business at Purdue- but that could be too optomistic given our road struggles of late.
Wisconsin has at PSU, so if they can beat MSU in EL they have a decent shot at stay with 5 L's.
OSU plays at Indiana and will paly Illinois at home- with Illinois wanting to be at 500 and make the tournament- so they have the longest odds.
Let's hope OSU wins (I know... gross) so Sunday will be interesting! And let's hope we take care of business on the road at Purdue!
Sometimes it seems like the Big Ten is just so crazy analyzing it is pointless- and I hope this is also one of those times- because that would mean the year ended in crazy fashion- and that is needed for a split-championship!