Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The 2010 NIT Tip-Off -- A log5 Look at the Championship Bracket

The Championship Bracket
Now that the consolation pods play is in the books, the four regional pod winners meet in Madison Square Garden to play the semi-final games and Championship game and so complete the championship bracket. Using the log5 method, we can calculate the probabilities for semi-final winners and the probabilities for each of the tournaments final four teams. The four pod round winners (in alphabetically correct order), with their regional pod, seed and conference affiliation:

VillanovaNorth#1Big East

In basic tournament fashion, #1 will play #4 and #2 will play #3. VCU eliminated the #3 seed (Wake Forest of the ACC) and has taken that spot. Below is a quick reference table for the offensive and defensive efficiencies (adjusted per Ken Pomeroy's site), along with the Pace (approximate possessions per game) and Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP). Note all possession-based stats are current through 11/22/2010.

New York City
TeamPaceAdj OffAdj DefPWP

The adjusted stats suggest the games in New York City will be very competitive. Given that all the teams have defensive ratings somewhere in the 90s or below, the shots should be contested and the scores close (even if the offensive/defensive splits suggest differently).

"log5ing" the Semis
The seed match-ups for the semi-finals (Wednesday night) below suggest the winners should be Tennessee (seeded #2) and Villanova (seeded #1):

Tennessee vs. VCU
PWPWin Prob.

Using pace and adjusted efficiencies, the game should be played for between 70 and 71 possessions, with Tennessee winning by about 3-5 points. The Vols tend to turn the ball over while Virginia Commonwealth's defense tends to force turnovers, so keep track of this stat if you are watching the game; it could be a decisive factor, especially if the game is close. Tennessee does not shoot the three particularly well (that means they are terrible at it), while VCU's defense tends to defend the line...indifferently at times. Can the Vols exploit that weakness? The Vols tends to get to the line (it might be all of the home games, given the time of year) frequently, while the Rams are fairly average about fouling -- they are not particularly aggressive defenders.

Villanova vs. UCLA
PWPWin Prob.

This side of the bracket appears less competitive, but the 'Cats really took it to the Bruins in the 2009 NCAA second round. Coach Ben Howland has to remember the manhandling his players took at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Through the weekend the numbers were closer. Expect the 'Cats and Bruins to play for about 69-70 possessions (just slightly fewer than the Vols and Rams), with the margin of victory only slightly larger (about 6-7 points). Expect Villanova to control the boards. The Wildcats are strong and aggressive when it comes to the boards. This has not been an obvious problem for UCLA because they have shot very well from the field so far. Should that change in the Garden however, it could spell trouble for the left coasters. Turnovers are another area to watch. The 'Cats are not especially aggressive defensively so far this season, a departure from seasons past. They have not forced turnovers at the same rate as prior seasons (they are excellent at protecting the ball by the way), but the Bruins are not particularly careful with the rock, and have turned it over on between one-in-five and one-in-four possessions.

Probabilities For the Bracket
The probabilities for each team for each round (two round bracket)...

Probability to win...

Though it is just two rounds, I was a little surprised Villanova was so heavily favored -- relatively, note the the ratio is nearly 3:1 over the next closest team, Tennessee. The PWP is still a bit early and hardly an absolute predictor. Check out my post on the Washington DC and Winstron-Salem pods. Hampton, a team that was projected to lose both of it's consolation pod games.

Further Reading...
log5 Explained by Dean Oliver
The Official NIT Tip Off Site
The Consolation Brackets with sites, teams, dates and game times. Home team bolded.
A Look at Two Consolation Pods
A Preview of the Consolation Pods

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