2009 NCAA Tournament – The Super Sweet 16

Posted on March 24, 2009 by


Today’s guest post is yet another excellent offering from Erich Doerr, updating his analysis on the NCAA Tournament. I should note that Erich sent this to me on Sunday night, but apparently my e-mail at Southern Utah ate it for a late night snack. Fortunately Erich was able to re-send it.  As I have noted before, outside of his basketball writing, Erich does consulting work for major software products by day and has started a fledgling sports-themed Open Source software initiative by night. 

The committee can stand proud this year as 14 of the 16 top seeds advanced through the opening weekend.  Only 5th seeded Purdue and 12th seeded Arizona broke the committee’s vision of the top 16.

With all the excitement suspended until Thursday, let’s take a step back to reflect and preview what lies ahead.  Table One, linked below, offers updated National Championship and Final Four odds for the remaining teams. 

Table One: Updated Odds (also see same table HERE)

The table offers each team’s original ratings and odds as of last week with a comparison to the current ratings and odds. 

Outside of the top contenders, most teams improved their chances by merely surviving, though some also got help from upsets that made their path easier.  In particular, Kansas and Louisville benefited from this phenomenon.  Originally, Kansas’s path seemed destined to go through a tough 6 seed in West Virginia, though Dayton spoiled that matchup and subsequently lost to the Jayhawks.  Kansas’s Final Four probability improved from the original 11% to the current 24% mostly due to this good fortune.

Louisville is now more likely than not to reach the Final Four, given their 50.3% odds.  Most of this improvement can be traced back to their region’s 4th and 5th seed upsets in round one, setting Louisville up for an Elite 8 match against the only remaining double digit seed.

Beyond just surviving, ratings improvements have also boosted the chances of Oklahoma, Villanova, and Connecticut heading to Detroit.  Both Pomeroy and Sagarin statistics suggest these three teams are getting better at just the right time, and these improvements factor into their improved forecasts.

Graphically, the charts below offer a day-by-day account of the top 8 teams and their chances.

Graph One

In the first graph, Louisville’s luck jumps upward as Friday’s upsets occur.  Memphis and Connecticut’s odds merge as a potential showdown looms.  The second chart offers a visual of the ratings boosts earned by Oklahoma and Connecticut.

Overall, the best of this year’s tournament has yet to come.  Remember to drop by the comments this weekend for updates as the field dwindles.

– Erich