Sunday, March 22, 2009

NCAA First Round -- Conference Progress Report

Looking at the results from the first round games, I was curious to see how the power conferences did...

Seed Record
Big 12516601.000
Big East707610.857
Big Ten437430.571

The Big 12 looks like they fared best among the power conferences. Especially notable given they had one team seeded in the lower half of the field (Texas A&M, seeded #9 beat BYU out of the Mountain West Conference). A&M fell to Connecticut 92-66 in the 2nd round. The Big East did fairly well, though it was to be expected given all 7 bids were seeded #1 through #6. The conference's lone 1st round casualty was West Virginia, the Mountaineers running into a deceptively deliberate Dayton team and falling 60-68. The Pac10s two underseeds, Arizona (#12) and USC (#10) managed to pull upsets over their 1st round opponents (Utah & Boston College, respectively), even as favored California (#7) fell to their underseeded ACC opponent Maryland. For the Mountain West Conference losses for both BYU and Utah managed to close out the conference's tournament presence. The MWC finished 0-2 this season, especially given that Utah and BYU had both earned higher seeds (#5 & #8 respectively). Only two of the Big Ten's high seeds (Michigan State and Purdue) won, the conference's reputation salvaged by low seeds Michigan and Wisconsin. Neither of those winners should be shocking. Michigan coach John Beilein is well known to Big East fans as he did a turn at West Virginia, taking several underrated Mountaineer teams deeper into the tournament than most believed they could go. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan is noted for his defense, and true to form, the Badgers strangled their first round opponent, Florida State, in a 59-61 game. Most disappointing to date has to be the ACC, which looks more like a "North Carolina, Duke & the 10 Dwarves" conference. Despite having 6 high seeds, the conference pulled a dismal 3-4 in the 1st round, the third win coming in an upset engineered by veteran Maryland coach Gary Williams. High seeds Wake Forest (#4), Florida State (#5), Boston College (#7) and Clemson (#7) all fell.

Multi-bid and other Mids
Four mid-low major conferences received high seeds, with 3 conferences pulling down multiple bids. The highest seed in the group went to Memphis of CUSA, the Tigers getting a #2 seed in the West Region. Coming out of 1st round action, the A10 conference appears to be the most prosperous, having pulled in 3 bids (Xavier #4, Dayton #11 and conference tournament winner Temple #11), with two teams (Dayton and Xavier) advancing into the 2nd round. That gives the conference a 2-1 record so far. The Horizon Conference had a surprise turn, with Butler (#9) falling in the 1st round and overlooked Cleveland State (#13), the conference tournament champion, advancing, and so giving the conference a 1-1 record so far. Both team were low seeds (though at #9 it is arguable even with #8s), so the Horizon again made some unexpected noise. The Gonzaga Bulldogs, a #4 seed out of the West Coast Conference advanced as a high seed. Not a shock. Of the other low seed, mid majors who advanced Siena (#9) out of the MAAC should not surprise those who follow Northeastern basketball, and the Sun Belt representative Western Kentucky (#12) has made (counting this season) 22 NCAA appearances, compiling a 17-20 record.


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

My two cents-

Certainly, it was a very good weekend for the Big East, and a very bad weekend for the SEC. I felt that more mid-majors (St. Mary's, San Diego State, Creighton, etc.) should have been invited to the tournament, rather than Arizona, for example...

The fact that Arizona made it to the Sweet 16 doesn't change the fact that they didn't deserve a bid over those mid-majors, to begin with...

Fine analysis - keep it up...

greyCat said...

Thanks for the comment Publisher. If you are interested in actual vs expected performance versus seed, try Dan Hanner's recent post over at his Yet Another Basketball Blog. Dan uses the 1985-2008 average wins per seed (PASE -- Performance Against Seed Expectation) to speculate on how many wins each conference should get this tournament. I have been tracking it through the 1st two rounds, and (depending on whether Dan follows up) may put something together in a day or so. But to this point, the A10 and Big 12 have exceeded expectations, the PAC10 has, surprisingly "met" expectations, while the Mountain West Conference (MWC) has fallen way short.