Thursday, March 26, 2009

On PASE? The Conferences Through Two Rounds

Looking over at Dan Hanner's Just Another Basketball Blog late last week I read through his "PASE Expectations" post. PASE, developed by Peter Tiernan over at can be used to compare performance versus expectation by seed. It seemed to be a promising method for analysis, so I decided to update the PASE stats for the seeds (thanks go out to the Bracketville blogger who maintains seed stats going back to 1985. I have relied on him for NCAA Tournament seed stats for years...). So how are the conferences doing this post season...

ConferencePASEto Dte%PASEIn
Sun Belt0.5012.000
Big 128.1891.103
Big Ten7.1360.842
Big East16.43110.675

Each conference's PASE is, as pointed out by Dan's PASE post, the sum of the anticipated wins by seed history. The Big East, Big Ten and ACC may all have received 7 bids (see table above), but their respective PASEs differ because their bids were for very different seeds. I have sorted the data by Wins %PASE, derived by dividing the number of wins so far ("Wins to Dte") by the conference's PASE. This puts a few tournament performances (by conference) in a different light.

Mids, Low & Surprises
I have left most of the mid/low major conferences off the list as they lost their first round games, thereby deriving a %PASE of 0. Given that among the mid/low major conferences only the A10 (Xavier), CUSA (Memphis), Mountain West Conference (MWC -- Utah & BYU) and West Coast Conferences (WCC -- Gonzaga), had teams seeded #8 or higher, losing in the first round was hardly a shock. I kept those four conferences along with the Sun Belt, MAAC and Horizon Conferences in the table. It appears the Sun Belt Conference is the biggest winner, as their representative, Western Kentucky, exceeded expectations by 200%. Well, the Hilltoppers actually won a single game. Seeded #12 (in the South Region) facing Illinois out of the Big Ten in a first round game and winning was no small feat. Siena out of the MAAC won it's first round game for the second consecutive tournament. The Saint's latest victim, #8 seed Ohio State, I suspect, would vouch for the idea the Saints should have been seeded a bit higher. It was the Saints' misfortune to run up against Louisville in the 2nd round, and though they gave the Cardinals a good game, they did not prevail. If Coach McCaffery and his team are disappointed they did not advance farther this season, they can take solace in the knowledge that they exceeded the PASE by 174%. The Horizon brought 2 squads to the Dance this season (Cleveland State & Butler), the improbable one, Cleveland State, turned out to be the one which advanced to the 2nd round, thus redeeming the conference's reputation for scrappy and surprising teams. The Vikings are coached by ex-Rutgeres head coach Gary Waters, so if the team members did not have NCAA experience, the coach has, having taken Kent State to the Dance in the late 1990s. The A10, with Xavier still in tournament, has an opportunity to advance a bit farther up the table, but the X-Men face a tough Pittsburgh team tonight. The MWC has to be the most disappointed among these conferences. The MWC had two teams, BYU and Utah, both with seeds #8 or higher representing the conference. The MWC's PASE was 1.83 wins, but both teams were eliminated in the 1st round.

Power Conferences
Having exceeded or met expectations, the Big 12 and Pac-10 are pretty much home free. Although the Pac-10 still has Arizona active, the Western Wildcats are up against the Louisville Cardinals in a #1/#12 game in the Midwest Region. Arizona became the conference's accidental standard bearer when #4 seed (West Region) Washington fell to #5 Purdue in the 2nd round. The Big 12 had 6 bids, all of whom survived the 1st round. Three from that conference -- Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma -- survived the 2nd round, so going forward, the Big 12 is playing with house money. The biggest disappointment so far is the SEC, whose prospects with 3 bids total, two of which were low seeds (#9 & #13), were very modest at the outset. The conference was "on PASE" for 1.5 wins, but only mustered a single win (from LSU, an #8 seed) before all representatives were eliminated by the 2nd round in the 1st weekend. Among the conferences with surviving representative, the Big Ten is close to meeting expectations, the conference from the Great Lakes needs only 2 more wins to exceed their expected total of 7.13 wins. If the Big East, with 11 wins so far, looks as if they have a lot of work still to do, remember they have 5 teams still in the tournament. Should all 5 advance, the conference is guaranteed to exceed it's PASE, since one of Pittsburgh and Villanova would advance to the Final Four. Should the confernce "play to seed" through this round, the prospects are still good -- at least 2 of the Elite Eight survivors would have to advance to the Final Four, with one advancing to the national championship game. Should all three #1 seeds advance to the Final Four the Big East is guaranteed to exceed their PASE (as at least 1 will advance to the National Championship game). The ACC, the conference with the 2nd highest PASE, is under the greatest pressure. The conference has only 2 representatives, North Carolina and Duke, left in the tournament. Both must advance through this round. And should either be eliminated in the next round, the other would have to win the National Championship. Should both advance to the Final Four they would have, between them, most likely eliminated 3 Big East teams. That would leave a mark.

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