Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NCAA Previews -- Links & Thoughts

What I am Reading This Week...
Bouncing back from The Atlantic 10 Tournament, I have started to look at the brackets, the commentary and (most importantly?) the numbers for the upcoming weeks. While the log5 calculations were not helpful in dissecting the A-10 Tournament last week (and weekend), it was a useful exercise for sorting out the field. Ken Pomeroy has put up his log5 breakdown of the 68 team field over at the Basketball Prospectus. The Prospectus also has regional breakdowns done by John Gasaway (East Region), Kevin Pelton (Southwest Region) and Arthur Fusco (Southeast Region). No preview of the West up as of 3/15. I feel compelled to urge the reader to subscribe to the Basketball Prospectus, though I suspect those who are inclined have already done so. And those who have not miss out on some great analysis delivered with a flair for writing. Consider this gem from John Gasaway's East Region preview...

"...The last time we saw Villanova they were losing to South Florida, and in that very sequence of words -- "losing to South Florida" -- we encounter the full miasmic depth of the Wildcats' present despair. Nova notwithstanding, the Bulls didn't beat any team in calendar 2011 that was not either: a) DePaul, or b) about to fire its coach..."
-- John Gasaway, "Tournament Preview:  Ohio State in the East"

Gasaway makes the point with a nice factoid, but refrains from piling on. As a Villanova fan I appreciate his sensitivity. Kevin Pelton did a terrific comparative piece about Tournament Seeds versus Pomeroy's Rating, also at the Prospectus. Pelton wanted to compare the overall strength of the different regions and seeds. It reminded me of Brian Lerner's post over at the Hoya Prospectus -- "Thinking About NCAA Seeding". Brian, unlike Pelton, uses the KenPom ranking scheme to critique the Selection Committee-seeded field. An argument for a computerized ranking process rather than humans? Probably not, but useful (as Pelton points out) for identifying those teams vulnerable to an early upset perhaps.

PASE...Tracking Down Peter Tiernan
Peter Tiernan seems to write for a different media outlet each Season of Madness, but his exhaustive research of past tournaments has produced a nifty tool that Peter calls Performance Against Seed Expectation (PASE for short), that allows the reader to establish a historic (and quantitative) context for any set of matchups against prior performances under similar circumstances. This season Peter is writing for the CBS websites, so you can catch an overview, "High Risk Bracket..., in addition to several supporting pieces, including "Your guide to every seed matchup, 2011 edition", "Key performance indicators and "The anatomy of an upset".

Dan Hanner takes a blended Pomeroy-come-Tiernan look at the brackets in his Monday column, "YACBC (Post Selection Edition)", over at the RealGM Basketball site. Hanner does a nice job of applying a variation of the Pythagorean Winning Percentage formula to the seeds in the field to project the number of wins for each of the top four seed lines. Using this approach Hanner identifies San Diego State, Purdue and Texas as among the stronger of the non #1 seed teams in the tournament. Point #4 in his The Last Four In section caught my eye. Hanner suggests the Selection Committee allocated an "open" #12 seed slot with the intent to assign the A-10 Tournament Champion, either Richmond or Dayton, to that slot. In Atlantic City a point of speculation circulating in the press room prior to the tip-off of the Championship Game was the probability of four A-10 teams dancing should Dayton upset Richmond. Remembering the under-seeding that Temple received in 2010 when they swept the tournament field, I suspected the Selection Committee would treat the game Sunday as an elimination game, and simply create a "compromise seed" (#12 it turns out), probably too high for Dayton, but too low for Richmond, and simply plug the winner in come 3:30 pm. A number of bracketology sites had the Spiders seeded #10 and #11 (in irrespective) with Dayton out.

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