Sunday, March 14, 2010

Come Dancing- Is how they did it when I was just a kid

by Jimmy Cracked Corndawg

If you were to consider the body of my work as a bracketologist through the years, it hasn't been that great. Over the past few seasons, though, I've achieved a higher level of success in picking the NCAA Tourney by using an almost-purely mathematical approach. Since I don't often watch a lot of college hoops during the season, I use RPI, schedule strength, and head-to-head against ranked teams as well as other tourney teams to determine winners. It's not something you can do in five minutes, though, so I did a little legwork to help everyone out. Here's my look at the Midwest Region using the criteria mentioned above, as a sample of the formula. Hope it helps.

MIDWEST REGION

#1Kansas (32-2) vs. #16 Lehigh (22-10)

The Jayhawks are the #1 overall seed in the tourney, the 10th time they’ve held that distinction…Their outstanding guard play vaulted the Jays to the Big 12 (18- conf. record) title…In playing the fifth hardest schedule in the country, Kansas also has the #1 RPIJayhawks won 10 games this season by 25 or more points….Kansas was 5-1 this season against ranked teams, beating Baylor, Temple, Texas A & M and Kansas St. (twice) while losing to Tennessee.

Lehigh’s Mountain Hawks won the Patriot League, which isn’t exactly what you’d call “stacked.” The Hawks went 13-4 versus their league, winning the tourney with wins over Army, American and Lafayette…Lehigh’s schedule strength ranks near the bottom at #300 with an RPI of #152…Suffered a season-opening, 12-point loss to fellow tourney invitee Richmond.

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#8 UNLV (25-8) vs. #9 Northern Iowa (28-4)

Lon Kruger’s Runnin’ Rebels went 13-6 versus the Mountain West this season, suffering a 10-point loss to San Diego State in the conference tourney following wins over Utah and BYU… The Rebs rank #49 in RPI and #90 in schedule strength…UNLV went 4-2 against ranked opponents, beating Louisville, while splitting against New Mexico and winning two of three against BYU.

Northern Iowa posted an 18-3 mark in winning the Missouri Valley Conference. Despite playing the 112th ranked schedule, the Panthers wound up with the 17th best RPI…The Panthers’ slate includes wins over tourney teams Siena and Old Dominion.

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#5 Michigan St. (24-8) vs. #12 New Mexico State (22-11)

The Spartans were co-Big Ten champs during the regular season with a 14-4 conference slate, playing the #48 schedule in the country en route to a #32 RPI placement…The Spartans went just 3-5 against ranked opponents, including then-number 10 North Carolina, which didn’t make the NCAA tourney field and then-number 2 Texas, which floundered in winning just 6 of its last 8 after a 17-0 start. The Spartans also beat Northwester, split versus Purdue and Wisconsin and lost to Ohio State…Other wins against tourney teams came versus Gonzaga, Wofford, Oakland and Minnesota, which MSU beat twice, though the Golden Gophers avenged themselves in ousting the Spartans in the opener of the Big Ten tourney.

The Aggies of New Mexico State went 21-11 in the WAC. But while the #51 RPI and #72 SOS ranking are a bit deceiving, quite telling is the Aggies’ season-opening, 32-point loss to unranked Saint Marys, which is also dancing this March.

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#4 Maryland (23-8) vs. #13 Houston (18-15)

The Terrapins were the regular season co-champs of the ACC and certainly know their way around the post-season, with a national championship to boot in recent years. The Terps are top-25 in both RPI (#24) and SOS (#21) but are coming off a disappointing tourney, in which they were one-and-done with a five-point loss to Georgia Tech. The Terps were 2-2 against ranked opponents during the regular season, including a split versus Duke, a number one seed in the NCAA tourney. The Terps swept a pair versus FSU this season, split versus Clemson and lost to both Wisconsin and Tech during the regular season, all of whom are in the tourney field.

On paper, the Cougars (#110 RPI, #106 SOS) are easy fodder for the Spartans, going just 11-9 versus Conference USA opponents, despite a Cinderella run in the conference tourney. The Cougars have no wins versus ranked opponents or tournament teams. In fact, their most impressive opponent, a post-Calipari Memphis team that went 23-9, didn’t even make the NCAA field.

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#6 Tennessee (25-8) vs. #11 San Diego State (23-8)

Bruce Pearl’s Vols finished just third in the SEC East, but beat a #1 (Kansas) and a #2 (Kentucky) this season, both of which earned #1 seeds in the NCAA tourney. The Vols went 1-4 in their remaining games against ranked teams, including another loss to the Wildcats, a pair of losses to Vandy, and a loss to Purdue. UT did beat Mississippi State, which lost in the SEC tourney title game to UK. The Vols split a pair versus Big Dance bound-Florida and also beat East Tennessee State, another tourney participant. Playing the 18th toughest schedule, the Volunteers achieved an RPI of #14.

The Aztecs (#18 RPI, #49 SOS) finished tied for third in the Mountain West, but swept the competition in the conference tourney, including a 10-point win over fellow tourney invitee UNLV. That was one of two wins over the Rebels this season. Elsewhere, it was 1-3 versus ranked opponents, with a pair of losses to BYU and a split against New Mexico. The Aztecs’ first loss of the season was a 22-point defeat against tourney invitee St. Marys.

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#3 Georgetown (23-10) vs. #14 Ohio (21-14)

The Hoyas played the toughest schedule in the country and made a strong showing at the Big East tourney, beating an eventual #1 NCAA tourney seed Syracuse, as well as tourney-bound Marquette, before losing by two to tourney-invitee West Virginia, which just missed being a #1 seed…Georgetown went 6-4 against ranked teams in the regular season, including wins over Butler, Washington, Villanova, and Duke, which earned a #1 NCAA tourney seed…Among other NCAA invitees, the Hoyas beat Louisville but lost to Old Dominion, Marquette and Notre Dame.

The Bobcats (#93 RPI, #113 SOS) went just 7-9 this season against the MAC before sweeping the conference tourney. The Bobcats did not play a ranked opponent this season, but lost by 25 to tourney invitee Pittsburgh.

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#7 Oklahoma St. (22-10) vs. #10 Georgia Tech (22-12)

The Cowboys (#29 RPI, #26 SOS fell in round two of the Big 12 tourney, but do boast a regular season win over Kansas, the top seed in the NCAA tourney. Overall, the Cowboys went 4-3 against ranked foes during the regular season, with one of those victories against highly-regarded Kansas St. The regular season slate featured a number of other Big Dance participants and included wins versus Utah, play-in invitee Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Texas A & M) and losses to A & M Baylor, Missouri, Texas.

The Yellow Jackets lost to Duke in the ACC tourney championship game, advancing through a field that included tourney hopeful Maryland. The Jackets were 3-2 against ranked opponents and also had wins over tourney invitees Siena, AR Pine Bluff and Wake Forest.

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#2 Ohio St. (27-7) vs. #15 UC Santa Barbara (20-9)

The Buckeyes (#26 RPI, #70 SOS) went 16-4 against the Big Ten this season, routing fellow invitee Minnesota by 29 in the title game. The Buckeyes went .500 against ranked opponents this season, beating Cal, FSU, Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan State while losing to the Boilermakers as well as North Carolina, Butler, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The Bucks also split a regular season series against the Golden Gophers.

UCSB (#98 RPI, #194 SOS) won the Big West with a 12-4 mark. The Gauchos didn’t play a ranked opponent this season but lost to fellow post-season participants San Diego State and Cal.

Jimmy Cracked Corndawg is a staff writer for Bulldog in Exile.

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