John Beilein in the NCAA Tournament

Submitted by Mercury Hayes on March 24th, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Earlier today I wrote a diary which looked at how John Beilein has performed as a coach when his team gets 4-7 days of rest. Now I look at how John Beilein has performed as a coach in the tournament when compared to other coaches and the norm.

As many pundits such Nate Silver have pointed out, John Beilein is the best at outperforming his seed level. This was evident last year and back in his Richmond days when the No. 15 Spiders took down a No. 2 seed. But what does that actually look like?

John Beilein is 9-4 in the NCAA Tournament while at Michigan and he was 5-2 at West Virginia. He went 1-1 at Richmond bringing his combined tournament record to 15-7 or a .681 win percentage. Of course, some of those losses were with a stacked deck. Can anyone blame Richmond for losing a second round game in 1998? Can anyone blame John Beilein for losing to Duke on a missed floater, or losing to Louisville after last year's run?

By adjusting for what the expected outcomes are, John Beilein is solid in the NCAA tournament when favored to win or in a close matchup. He is also .500 when expected to lose. Yes. On the biggest stage, coach B is .500 when his team is expected to lose! Amazing.

Let's start at how I came to this conclusion

Richmond: 1-1 in games where he was expected to lose (15 seed).

West Virginia: 2-0 in games he was expected to win (vs. Northwestern State, Southern Illinois) and 1-0 in toss up games (his No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 Providence) and 2-2 in games where his team was the clear underdog.

Michigan: 4-1 when expected to win (the loss being against Ohio) and 2-0 in toss up games (Clemson, Tennessee). He is also 3-3 in games where his teams were expected to lose such as games vs. Oklahoma, Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, Florida and Louisville. In fact that may be generous as many expected Michigan to fold against VCU last year. That could have been considered a tossup.

Spanning his three schools, coach B is 6-1 in games he was expected to win, 3-0 in tossup games and 6-6 where his team was an underdog.   Based on Ken Pom rankings, you can make the case that this is a tossup game. Based on the seeds, you can say No. 11 Tennessee is a clear underdog.  But even if you classify Michigan as the underdog, remember, coach Beilein is 6-6 in the NCAA Tournament in games he is supposed to lose with wins over top seeds and blue blood programs.

No matter how much love is given to Tennesee's big men or their tournament play as of late, Beilein has beaten better teams with far less. And for that, you have to feel pretty excited about his tournament odds.

By the way, his .681 win percentage is just slightly south of Izzo's .688 conference game winning percentage. And if you are wondering what the best percentage is in the tournament? Well, that belongs to coach K. He's right around .750.




March 24th, 2014 at 5:41 PM ^

I think it was one of Chait's articles that linked to it, but they showed that Coach Beilein's teams not only over-perform in the Tournament, but that they also tend to improve as the year goes on. For the last couple years, a part of that has been that his teams are young (and thus improving more quickly as they learn) or are adjusting personnel (e.g., this year with the loss of McGary). But I also think it may be connected with the complexity of Beilein's O and D schemes. That complexity does 2 things: 1) makes it hard for the other team to prepare if they don't see UM on a regular basis (i.e., out-of-conference teams); and 2) it requires a bit of time for the players to learn the system well and utilize all of its options.


March 24th, 2014 at 7:25 PM ^

Beilein is a great tournament coach. After all, like you said, he coached the first half of his D1 career at schools who play just to get into the tournament. His win as a 14 seed at Richmond was just icing on the cake. His runs to the E8 and S16 at WVU, were not expected as well. Then at UM he won a game in 2009 and 2011, had a dissapointing tournament in 2012 and then we all know what happened last year. Now with a win on Thursday, Beilein would surpass the expected wins by his seed for the 7th time in 9 tournaments. The only 2 times he didnt was in 2012 obviously and in 1996 as a .... 13 seed. So basically he has only had 1 disspaointing tournament.


March 25th, 2014 at 6:39 AM ^

I have a study on this tomorrow for Hokepoints. It's avg wins beyond seed for all coaches since 1993 who've coached in at least 4 tournaments. Beilein is tied for 5th among all coaches with Stan Heath. Izzo is 8th, just ahead of Billy Donovan of Florida.