Sweet Sixteen – An NCAA Tournament Update

Posted on March 24, 2008 by


The following is another guest post from WoW Journal reader Erich Doerr. Erich used the Win Score metric to investigate the top prospects for the 2007 NBA Draft. He also provided similar analysis in a first glance at the 2008 draft.  In this post, Erich updates his analysis (posted before the tournament started) of who should be the favorites in the Big Dance.

Over the past four days, 48 games have been played and sixteen teams remain.  In the spirit of Instant Analysis, here’s a quick glance at the remaining field and the tournament ahead. 

Based on the weekend’s results, I’ve run another 10,000 iteration Monte Carlo analysis, updated with statistics through Sunday’s games. 

Table One: Predicting the NCAA after Rounds One and Two

Upsets in the West bracket have driven up UCLA’s chances of a Final Four appearance and championship, while poor play and the “upset” of Pittsburgh have decreased Memphis’s title odds. 

North Carolina’s boost comes due to a full point jump in Sagarin ratings and a similar increase in Pomeroy’s Pythag%.  Louisville also enjoyed a similar increase and may be listed as a favorite over Tennessee. 

Kansas’s KenPom case is interesting, as although their Final Four odds increased from 60% to 70%, their title chances dropped from 37% to 32%.  This indicates a higher probability of a competitive Final Four field, which makes sense given they would be guaranteed to face a tough opponent from the East.

Given the chance to re-seed #1’s, everybody would like to be in the West where your team faces a twelve seed and the two seed has been eliminated.  The Midwest bracket hosts a similar situation, though the looming Wisconsin matchup is more ominous than Xavier/West Virginia.  The potential Kansas/Wisconsin showdown promises to be the highest quality matchup of the tournament so far, as two top-five teams square off.

The hardest road is in the East, the only bracket where the top seeds prevailed.  This bracket presents a bevy of even match-ups in the coming weekend and is a huge hurdle for North Carolina to overcome in reaching the Final Four.

Updated KenPom Brackets

Updated Sagarin Brackets

One last note…. overall, the seeding committee looks like they did a pretty good job.  A “dumb” bracket, where all top seeds advance, would have 13 incorrect picks compared to 13 for the Sagarin and 10 for the KenPom simulation.

For further information, review the links and comments from the first post.  The comments include a discussion on the odds of a perfect bracket.  Based on the first two rounds, everyone will likely have to wait another year before dreaming of perfection.

– Erich Doerr