Big East Hoops

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Bracket Breakdown (Big East Edition)

March 26, 2009 10:18 am by Dan'l B

Borrowing heavily from Ken Pomeroy’s breakdown on Basketball Prospectus (in other words, copy and paste), here’s a primer for the rest of the tournament with a Big East perspective. First, odds by round for each remaining squad (check out Ken’s article for perspective on how this compares to the rest):

Seed             Elite8 Final4 Final  Champ
1W   UConn        72.8   37.4   24.5   15.4
1MW  Louisville   77.5   47.6   26.0   12.4
1E   Pitt         68.3   40.1   17.0    9.1
3S   Syracuse     52.2   20.8    9.7    3.7
3E   Villanova    40.8   17.2    5.1    2.0

These results should resemble those I posted at the beginning of the week. Ken used updated ratings to generate these probabilities whereas I had used the pre-tournament numbers. UConn’s huge wins greatly improved their numbers, but Pitt and Louisville each lost ground thanks to their closer calls. Nova and Cuse also both improved relative to the remaining competition.

Combining all these probabilities, I generated the net probability of various events occurring. Here you go:

Sweet Sixteen Results:
5-0    8.2%
4-1   28.7%   4+    36.9%
3-2   36.2%   3+    73.1%
2-3   20.8%   2+    93.9%
1-4    5.5%   1+    99.5%
0-5     .5%

Elite Eight wins:
4      2.1%
3     15.5%   3+    17.7%
2     36.7%   2+    54.4%
1     34.5%   1+    88.9%
0     11.1%

Final Four wins:
2     16.1%
1     50.2%   1+    83.9%
0     33.8%

Champ 42.6%

We should see 3 or 4 wins tonight and tomorrow. Anything else would be a shocker, akin to the lill shocker that Wichita State administered to Tennessee in the 2006 tournament.

1st weekend thoughts

March 23, 2009 10:47 am by Dan'l B
  • First, an update of the Log5 probabilities:
    Team         W3   W4   W5   W6
    Louisville  .80  .50  .23  .13
    Pittsburgh  .72  .42  .23  .11
    UConn       .64  .27  .16  .09
    Syracuse    .53  .19  .08  .03
    Villanova   .36  .14  .05  .02
    TOTALS     3.05 1.52  .74  .36
    Midwest     .80  .50  .23  .13
    East       1.08  .56  .28  .12
    West        .64  .27  .16  .09
    South       .53  .19  .08  .03
    Max              .01  .14  .36
  • The odds of an all-BEast Final Four were boosted from 0.57% to 1.4% thanks to Syracuse’s progress.
  • For all the #1 seeds, little has changed. They each won two games as expected, and the same tough opponents remain in their future.  Louisville saw a boost from WVU’s failure to show up, and UCLA exited the East thanks to a freakishly good Villanova performance, but Michigan St. and Kansas are still in the Midwest, and Duke remains out East. UConn and Memphis have yet to be challenged for 40 minutes. They still seem destined for each other this weekend.
  • Villanova and Syracuse: way to show up bigtime. Sure they did what they were supposed to do as #3 seeds, but both UCLA and Arizona St. came in as underrated on paper. Aside from Villanova’s 25 minute false start against American, both Nova and Cuse look like title contenders.
  • Marquette deserves a lot of credit for ending the season pretty well after losing a floor leader in James. DJ was a shadow of a shadow of himself yesterday, but it was “nice” to see him on the floor in his last game. Mizzou looked very good much of the game but Marquette was right there at the end. I’m still trying to figure out why English got to shoot those free throws that essentially closed the door.
  • WVU blew it. Yuck is all I can say. A very good team, bordering on elite, just couldn’t put it together consistently all season and played one of their worst games at the end. After they beat Pitt and took Syracuse to overtime two weeks ago, I thought they’d turned a corner. Oops.
  • I like Syracuse’s chances against OU, but if Griffin carries the Sooners past them, perhaps the consolation prize would be a Pitt-OU clash. I remain convinced that Blair would surprise everyone by being Griffin’s equal head to head. I live near Dallas, TX in the heart of Big 12 country. Folks here are not just calling Griffin the best in the tournament. He’s now the best player in Big 12 history. And as the Blair-Griffin matchup goes back and forth, the game will be decided by the most underrated player in the tournament…
  • Sam Young and the best pump fake Donald’s ever seen. While OSU played their best offensive half in perhaps school history, Young matched them the whole way. I can’t recall shooting as fortunate as OSU’s. Not only did they all go in, they didn’t turn it over.
  • Five left, as chalk predicted, but all have looked good to great to this point. Should be another good weekend upcoming.

Log5 and some Predictions

March 16, 2009 2:23 pm by Dan'l B

(Courtesy of Ken Pomeroy’s pythagorean figures and Bill James’ Log5 formula)

Team         W1   W2   W3   W4   W5   W6
Louisville  .97  .80  .59  .37  .18  .10
Pittsburgh  .94  .72  .54  .32  .18  .09
UConn       .98  .70  .47  .22  .13  .07
WVU         .87  .54  .35  .19  .08  .04
Syracuse    .86  .46  .26  .10  .05  .02
Villanova   .87  .38  .17  .07  .03  .01
Marquette   .72  .31  .08  .03  .01  .01

TOTALS     6.20 3.91 2.46 1.31  .66  .33

Midwest    1.84 1.34  .94  .56  .26  .14
East       1.81 1.10  .70  .39  .21  .10
West       1.70 1.01  .56  .25  .14  .08
South       .86  .46  .26  .10  .05  .02

Max         .42  .01  .00  .01  .10  .33

As top overall #1 seed, Louisville was actually rewarded with a smooth path to the Elite Eight in the Midwest. Wake Forest and Utah are underwhelming #4 and #5 seeds. After that, I love how WVU is the Pomeroy favorite to meet Louisville in Indianapolis. Pomeroy puts the odds of a Big East Final Four entrant from the Midwest at 56%. I’m predicting a bit of conference cannibalism here.

Out West, UConn has a decent draw, but Marquette drew one of the best upset candidates I identified pre-tournament. Fear the Big Blue of Utah State. Missouri would also be favored over Marquette in the 2nd round. Compound that with Dominic James’ injury, and the final chapter on this season doesn’t look to be a good one. The other half of the Big East’s “infirmary region” pair, UConn, will be favored as expected through three, but Memphis will get revenge for the #1-seed decision.

Pitt’s draw is almost as kind as Louisville’s, and I love how they matchup with their likely opponents late in the regional. Villanova did not get so lucky. Another underseeded #6 seed lies in waiting. Despite the homecooking in Philly, the Bruins will prove too much.

Syracuse and Arizona St., should they meet, will be a great game. They’re so close, it could easily take six overtimes to decide it. The cool thing is, the winner will face the same level of opponent, at best, in Oklahoma. Nothing against the Sooners; they’re simply overrated. Two coin flip games, but if they both come up heads for Cuse, we should have Elite Eight teams in every region and the talk will be, “can the BEast field four of Four?” Too bad UNC will take care of that.

Unfortunately, Memphis and UNC are favorites over our best, Louisville and Pitt. It’ll be a good tournament for the Big East through the middle rounds, but neither finalist will come from here.

The “Max” line indicates the odds that the Big East takes every game they could each round. In other words, there’s a 42% chance all seven win the first one and a 33% chance the champion is ours. In between, there’s really no chance of anything aside from an all-Big East final. For kicks, Log5 puts the odds of an all-Big East Final Four at 0.57%.

Seed predictions

March 15, 2009 4:45 pm by Mister D

Here are a few predictions before the selection show.

Louisville: #1 seed (maybe even the #1 overall, considering UNC lost)
Pitt: #1 seed
UConn: #2 seed
Syracuse: #4 seed
Villanova: #4 seed
Marquette: #5 seed
WVU: #6 seed

Providence: a young team…will have to hope for next year.

Making a name.

March 14, 2009 8:55 pm by Mister D

Sure. We know what Championship Week and March Madness are all about: the drama and the tradition of the best college basketball teams in the nation going head-to-head, trying as hard as they can to make it to the field of 65. And for those that do make it, it’s about playing in a do-or-die tournament that’s probably the most exciting in the world.

But beyond those general, overarching pursuits, this time of year is also about college players making a name for themselves (and, potentially, millions of dollars in a sweet NBA contract because of their name recognition).

I’ll give you an example. Last year, which names did you hear constantly throughout the season? Michael Beasley. OJ Mayo. Kevin Love. But who, after an amazing NCAA Tournament where he went from a no-name point guard to absolute stud, was the first pick in the NBA draft and the likely NBA rookie of the year? Derrick Rose. He went from nobody to mega-star.

Rose went from little-known guard to #1 pick.

In fact, there are several guys every year who start out the month of March as relative no-names, and who play their way, either by way of their conference tournament or the NCAA tournament, into the NBA. Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, Brandan Wright, Jeff Green. I could go on.

The point is, these guys made a name for themselves in March, and they decided to capitalize on it. If they’re smart (assuming they care about making lots of dough), athletes will make the jump and cash in on their name when the buzz is up and player stock is high. After the past 48 hours, I fully expect Jonny Flynn to do this. A few days ago, nobody outside of the Big East knew who Jonny Flynn was. Now, everyone knows this guy is a warrior, a talented floor general, and somebody with tons and tons of heart who also happens to be quite marketable. As much as I love his game and would not want him to leave, I actually think he should leave. His name recognition will never be higher. His stock is up. Sell. There are perils if you don’t.

Donte Greene made the jump.  Maybe Jonny should too.

We said on this site a two years ago that super-frosh Scottie Reynolds, after he dropped 40 on UConn (in Storrs, no less) late in the year and had an amazing Big East Tournament, should have left for the NBA. Was he polished enough for the NBA? Probably not. Was he a little soft? Probably. But his name recognition was huge. He was all over the national media, and we argued that he should have cashed in and gone to the NBA because the opportunity might not arise ever again.

Two years later, he’s still a great player on a solid Villanova squad. But all of a sudden he’s the second-best player on his team, and he isn’t glowing in the national spotlight (especially not after scoring 2 points on 1-6 shooting in the Big East semifinal the other night). Now, maybe he goes nuts in the NCAA Tournament this year and turns some heads. And maybe he gets a shot at the NBA after a stellar senior season. I still like his game, and I think he could make it in the next level. But he had the chance at making millions back in 2007, and he missed it.

So if you’re reading this, Jonny, think on it. Guaranteed cash in an economy like this? Be like Derrick. Don’t be like Scottie.