Saint Louis

March 14, 2014 Basketball # , , , , ,

EPW: Mock Bracket Walkthrough

I’ve meant to do this exercise for a few weeks. This will be a full walk-through of the seeding process, using my rankings as an S-Curve. I’m going to attempt to build the bracket using the selection committee rules, while trying to stay as true to the ratings as possible. I will do this on Selection Sunday so that I can send a bracket to Bracket Matrix to track the results. I want as little human interaction as possible, but I know I can’t just seed everyone straight through with the rankings, otherwise we can end up with 6 teams from the same conference in the same region. The only thing I won’t pay attention to is potential re-matches from non-conference opponents. I’m only one set of eyes and I don’t have the time to double-check everything while still writing this post. Enough explanation, let’s do this.

This whole process starts off simple, but gets harder as it goes as more teams need to be shuffled. The four #1 seeds are, in order, Arizona, Florida, Villanova and Syracuse. Arizona goes to the West Region (Anaheim) and is placed in the San Diego Pod. Florida goes to the South Region (Memphis) and gets the Orlando pod. Villanova will be in the East Region (New York) and gets a Buffalo pod, with Syracuse rounding it out in the Midwest Region (Indianapolis) and grabbing the other Buffalo pod. The bracket lines up like this:

Bracket - #1 seeds






Next, we have the #2 seed: Wichita St., Wisconsin, Kansas, San Diego St. Wichita St. goes first, being placed in the Saint Louis pod and the South Region. Wisconsin goes to the Milwaukee pod and the Midwest Region. Kansas joins Wichita St. at the Saint Louis site, while heading to the East region. San Diego St. is unable to be placed in the San Diego pod, since it is their home floor, so they’ll be heading to Spokane and grabbing the spot in the West. So far, so good.

The #3 seeds are as follows: Michigan, Creighton, Virginia and Iowa St. Michigan has a few favorable pod locations, so to make things easier for some other #3 seeds, but since both Buffalo pods have been taken, they’ll grab the 2nd spot in Milwaukee. The Midwest would be their best region geographically, but since Wisconsin is already in that region, they move to the East. Creighton’s two best pods (St. Louis and Milwaukee) have already been filled, so they’ll head to San Antonio for their first game and be placed in the Midwest. Virginia is next, and they’ll head to Raleigh and take a spot in the South, with Iowa St. going to San Antonio and the West.

Moving on to the #4 seeds, we have Duke, Cincinnati, Saint Louis and Michigan St. Duke gets a first round game in Raleigh and is heading to the East region. Cincinnati has to head to Orlando, via process of elimination, but gets a spot in the Midwest. Saint Louis and Michigan St. both draw short straws for pods, heading to Spokane and San Diego, respectively. Saint Louis is placed in the South region, with Michigan St. heading to the West. Not a lot of perks for Michigan St. as the last #4 seed, but what can you do? The bracket now looks like this:

Bracket - Top 16






The #5 seeds are Louisville, Massachusetts, Connecticut and North Carolina. Louisville can’t go to the Midwest, due to the presence of Cincinnati, so they’ll be put in the South. Massachusetts is next, heading to the East. Connecticut is locked out of the Midwest and the South, the East has already been filled, so process of elimination puts the in the West. Which should mean that North Carolina goes to the Midwest, however that is where Syracuse is seeded. The only region that does not have an ACC representative at this point is the West, meaning the Tar Heels need to be bumped down a spot on the seed line. The next team in like is Gonzaga. Since they have no conflicts, they can be placed on the #5 line in the Midwest.

Now the #6 seeds should be North Carolina, Ohio St., New Mexico and Pittsburgh. Now UNC can slot into the West. Ohio St.’s only possible location at this point is the South. New Mexico can’t go to the West because of San Diego St., so they’ll be in the Midwest. That leaves Pittsburgh to be placed. Pittsburgh will be the 5th ACC team to be seeded, meaning there will now be multiple conference teams in one region. With Duke being the #4 seed in the East, Pittsburgh can slot in as the East’s #6 seed, which avoids any potential conference re-match until the Elite 8. Perfect.

Bracket - Top 24






Next up is the #7 seeds, Texas, VCU, George Washington and Oklahoma. Texas goes to the South, VCU to the Midwest, and George Washington is forced to the West as the 4th A-10 rep. These leaves Oklahoma unable to be seeded as a 7, as their only potential landing spot at the point is in the Midwest. UCLA is next in line, so they snag a cross-country trip to the East, if they make a Sweet 16 appearance.

The #8 seeds are now Oklahoma, Harvard, Baylor and Memphis. Oklahoma heads to the Midwest and Harvard takes a spot in the East. Baylor makes team number 5 for the Big 12, so their spot requires some analysis. The Big 12 has no teams in top half of the two remaining regions, so placing them in either one will work. That’s a different story for Memphis, though. The AAC has teams in the top half of both of those regions, so the Tigers will be forced to drop to the #9 line. The next team up is Oregon, who can be placed in the South without problem, which makes Baylor to the West official. This type of musical chairs becomes quite regular from here on out.

Half of the bracket has now been seeded. Potential conference re-matches have been minimized and pushed out as late as possible. An all-chalk 2nd round is now visible for the entire bracket, which looks like this:

Bracket - Top 32






Now, the first round matchups start being created. The #9 seeds are Memphis, Kentucky, Southern Miss and Colorado. Memphis goes to the East, since the AAC has teams in the other 3 regions, where they’ll meet Harvard. I don’t think Kentucky would get a spot in the Midwest, as that could potentially put Syracuse in a semi-road game in the 2nd round, so they head to the West to play Baylor. Southern Miss goes to the South to take on Oregon, since Colorado’s only potential region is the Midwest and a game against former conference mate, Oklahoma.

For #10 seeds, we have THE LUMBERJACKS OF STEPHEN FULLER AUSTIN, Xavier, Toledo and Providence. Stephen F. Austin heads to the Midwest for a date with VCU. Xavier is the South region and draws Texas. Toledo ends up in the East and matches up with UCLA. Lastly, Providence goes to the West and plays George Washington.

In the 8 total games that have been set-up so far (ignoring any potential home court adjustments), only Kentucky is projected to be a favorite in their game.

Moving on to the #11 seeds, we have Stanford, Arizona St., Florida St. and SMU. Since the Pac12 already have 4 teams in the bracket, the region choices have some limits. The East is the only region to have a Pac12 in the bottom half of a region, so Stanford gets a spot in the West against North Carolina, while Arizona St. takes on Ohio St. in the South. Florida St. takes Midwest’s #11 seed, taking on New Mexico, with SMU joining the East region and taking on Pittsburgh.

Bracket - Top 44






The #12 seeds traditionally are the most popular upset teams in the tournament, and in this instance, one of these teams is particularly strong. This group of teams also includes the first play-in game. The teams are Oklahoma St., Dayton, the winner of Nebraska/Saint Joseph’s, and North Dakota St. Seeding these teams was a little tricky due to the play-in game, but ultimately everyone can be kept on this seed line. Oklahoma St. heads to the South to take on Louisville in what I would assume is one of the strongest 1st round games in the history of the NCAA tournament. It’s absolutely a doomsday scenario for the defending champs. Louisville will still be favorites in the game, but the relative strength of the rest of the 12-seeds pales in comparison to OKST’s. Dayton goes to the West for a game against Connecticut. The Nebraska/St. Joe’s winner is placed in the Midwest, which has an top-half of the bracket without any teams from the BigTen or A10. Both teams are underdogs in that match-up with Gonzaga, though. The last 12-seed in North Dakota St., who heads to the East to face Massachusetts.

#13 seeds include the winner of Green Bay and BYU, Louisiana Tech, Manhattan and North Carolina Central. With BYU as the projected winner, they’ll be in the East region as Duke’s opponent. Louisiana Tech would be in the Midwest and would take on Cincinnati. Manhattan goes to the South for a date with Saint Louis and NC Central heads to the West to take on Michigan St.

The #14 seeds are Delaware, Georgia St., New Mexico St. and Mercer. Delaware gets placed in the Midwest to take on Creighton, Georgia St. is in the South region and draws Virginia, New Mexico St. is in the West region and plays Iowa St., and Mercer finishes off this group in the East against Michigan.

Per KenPom ratings, half of the Sweet 16 teams have now been decided.

Bracket - Top 60






This leaves just the #15 and #16 seeds. The #15 seeds are UC-Irvine, Eastern Kentucky, Stony Brook and Milwaukee, with the #16 seeds being American, Wofford, and the winners of Weber St./Coastal Carolina and Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern. UC-Irvine takes a crack at Wisconsin in the Midwest. Eastern Kentucky takes on Kansas in the East. Stony Brook locks up with undefeated Wichita St. in the South, and UW-Milwaukee heads to the West and “battles” San Diego St.

Finally, the #16 seed match-ups are American taking on Syracuse in the Midwest, Wofford against Villanova in the East, the Weber St./Coastal Carolina winner against Florida in the South and the Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern winner against Arizona in the West.

All of this creates a bracket that looks like this:

Bracket - Complete






All of the games are done using a straight comparison of the higher KenPom rating. No need to run any sims on this hypothetical. So much can change just by simply putting teams in different regions. For example, even though Louisville makes it to the finals, the game against Oklahoma St. would severely lower their overall chances of doing that. Replace Saint Louis with Duke and you have an even more difficult road. All in all, I think this is a really fun exercise. The bracket was able to come together with a very small amount of restructuring due to conference alignments. I’ll be very interested to see how this measures up to the rest of the brackets that are tracked at Bracket Matrix. Anything in the top half will look like a very big success.

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March 6, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through March 5

Stanford, out. Dayton, in. While the rest of the bracket had some small jockeying between the rankings, the biggest change was the Flyers tagging in and the Cardinal diving out. Stanford lost by 3 at home to Colorado, while Dayton knocked off the suddenly slipping Saint Louis on the Billikens home floor.

Spreadsheet for March 6



1: Arizona, Florida, Villanova, Wisconsin

2: Wichita St., Syracuse, Kansas, Virginia

3: Michigan, San Diego St., Creighton, Duke

4: Iowa St., Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Michigan St.

5: Louisville, Saint Louis, North Carolina, Connecticut

6: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA

7: Ohio St., George Washington, VCU, Gonzaga

8: Memphis, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Iowa

9: Arizona St., SMU, Colorado, Harvard

10: Oregon, Green Bay, Stephen F. Austin, Saint Joseph’s

11: Southern Miss, Xavier, Providence, Kansas St.

12: Baylor, Oklahoma St., (Florida St./Dayton), Toledo

13: (Arkansas/Missouri), North Dakota St., Louisiana Tech, North Carolina Central

14: Belmont, Delaware, Boston University, Georgia St.

15: Iona, New Mexico St., Mercer, UC Irvine

16: Vermont, Davidson, (Robert Morris/Weber St.), (Coastal Carolina/Texas Southern)


Last Four In: Florida St., Dayton, Arkansas, Missouri

First Four Out: Stanford, Nebraska, BYU, Clemson

Next Four Out: Utah, Tennessee, California, St. John’s

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February 13, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: College Basketball Rankings through February 12

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you. Without some dope rankings to step to.

Sorry for being slack on updating these rankings. Crappy weather in North Carolina, coupled with yesterday being the anniversary of leaving my mother’s womb, has left me less interested in doing any writing. But today is a new day. And that new day brings a new #1 team to the EPW rankings.

Fresh off last night’s victory in Pittsburgh, the Syracuse Orange are now the projected #1 team at the end of the regular season. Not that this development is terribly shocking. Being undefeated tends to correlate strongly with being highly ranked. But Syracuse had not been able to jump ahead of Arizona based on their weaker schedule. Oddly enough, the schedule strength is much closed than I expected. The to-date SOS for ‘Cuse is .787, with Arizona sitting at .777. That margin shrinks in the end of season numbers.

The most interesting thing I have noticed in the last week is that the rankings have normalized a bit. There hasn’t been a ton of movement since my last update. Saint Louis had the biggest jump of the Top 25 teams, climbing 6 spots to #11. Bracket Matrix has Saint Louis slotted at #17. The real results will look more like Bracket Matrix, if I had to guess, as the public perception doesn’t seem to be matching the actual results. Maybe that will change if they pick up a win at VCU on March 1, but I think it’s a much more likely scenario that the Billikens will be underseeded come tourney time.

top40 feb12

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January 27, 2014 Basketball # , , , , , ,

EPW: The Undefeated Teams in College Basketball

With Sunday having been a dull slate of game, I decided to take a look at the three remaining undefeated teams, their schedules thus far and their outlooks for the rest of the season. Ken Pomeroy tweeted last night that the chances of at least one undefeated team at the end of the regular season was 48%. Whether or not any of these teams finish the regular season undefeated is largely meaningless. They don’t go from “unbeatable” to “suspect” just from a loss. It is, however, exciting (at least, to me) to think about a team having the potential to be undefeated heading into the NCAA tournament. Obviously, Wichita St. is in the best place to do so. They have a much larger chance than Arizona or Syracuse of finishing the regular season undefeated, along with a higher chance of winning their conference tournament. Most of the discussion really lands on Arizona and Wichita St., as Syracuse’s current chances at an undefeated regular season are a little over 1%, but I’ll be taking a look at all three teams anyway.

The first thing I want to take a look at is a visual representation of the games these three teams have played through January 27. What I have done in the chart below, is graph each team’s value added from each game played, from best to worst. For example, on the blue line (Arizona), the 1st data point is at .676, which corresponds to their victory at Michigan on December 14. The average likelihood of my original six baseline teams (UCLA, Iowa, Oklahoma St, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Wichita St) winning that game at Michigan was .324, therefore Arizona is credited with the difference between one full win, and that average result. Hence, that game is worth .676. I did this for every game each team has played, they graphed them in descending order.

Undefeated - Best to Worst


The two things that stand out the most, to me, are the amount of quality wins Arizona has compared to the other two teams, and the lack of quality wins that Wichita St. has at all. Now, to offer some context for that graph, the following table has all the pertinent information for this exercise.

Undefeated - Breakdown


Two quick things to point out in this graphic. The “Opp” column is the opponent’s current rank in the KenPom ratings, and the “Rank” column is a ranking of all 59 total games between the three teams ranked in descending order of value.

I don’t think I’m pointing out anything new when I say that Arizona’s best wins have been amazing. Between the three teams, Arizona has four of the best five wins. This isn’t a product of three teams with weak schedules, either. Of those four Wildcat wins, three of which came on the road (Michigan, San Diego St and UCLA), with the fourth (Duke) being at a neutral site. The only non-Arizona win to crack the top five actually comes from Wichita St., which will have most people who read this scratching their heads. The Shockers win at Saint Louis on December 1 ranks as the 4th best win of this entire bunch. I’m sure a lot of people would assume that Syracuse’s wins over Pitt and Villanova would rank higher, but in this instance, those people would be wrong (and it’s not really that close.) Saint Louis is a top 25 KenPom team. Beating a team like that in their own building is a difficult task.

Aside from that Saint Louis victory, however, things are a bit more bleak for the Shockers. Their next best win comes in at #12, a road win at Alabama. The entire group of victories between #6 and #11 all belong to Syracuse. They might not have the marquee victory yet, but those six wins are all very strong. If those six games were played by the mythical baseline team, the expectation of winning those all of those games is just under 10%.

Right now, this information lines up with the polls. Arizona is ranked #1 based on the strength of those top shelf wins. Syracuse slots in behind them with the bulk middle-tier victories, and Wichita St. is the third banana, a quality team hasn’t had the caliber of wins (and won’t have the opportunity to pick up those wins until the second weekend of the NCAA tournament) needed to change the perception from “Best Mid Major” to “Best in the Nation.”



Looking at the above graphic of remaining games for each team, you can quickly see that Syracuse’s schedule looks very similar to Arizona’s starting schedule. The Orange own the four most difficult remaining games between the teams, with Arizona grabbing the next five in strength. Wichita St. only shows up twice in the top 20, which is why their chances to finish the regular season undefeated are around 40%. To put that 40% in perspective, Wichita St. goes undefeated in the regular season as often as Andrew McCutchen reached base last year in his MVP campaign. Arizona, however, is just under 12%, or Andrew McCutchen’s walk rate in 2013. Syracuse is bringing up the rear, finishing undefeated 1.3% of the time. To complete the baseball benchmarks, that’s how often McCutchen has ground into a double play over the course of his career. I have no idea how the rest of the season will go, but as a Duke fan, I hope the Blue Devils come in to 2nd base hard on Sunday. The last thing I want to see is Syracuse rolling a pair.

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