Monday, March 12, 2007

Revisiting Predictions

First, I want to say that I think the committee did a tremendous job this year (and not just because my Illini team got in.) I think this could be the best seeding of the top teams ever. Instead of sticking strictly to the numbers and shafting Florida to a 2 seed because of the last 10 or RPI 100 wins, I think the committee looked at the teams as basketball fans and correctly evaluated who were the best teams in the country. I honestly believe that all four number 1 seeds could win the national title which is almost never the case. I also believe it was a prudent and correct decision to give Florida the top overall seed, something few could have predicted a week ago. Meanwhile, the other two deserving teams, UCLA and Georgetown were put in the West and East regions respectively which is a tremendous advantage, even if those teams did not receive 1 seeds.

63 of 65
Joe Lunardi had Syracuse and Drexel in and Illinois and ODU out.

CBS Sportsline had Syracuse and Missouri St. in and Illinois and Arkansas out.

Stewart Mandel had Syracuse and Drexel in and Purdue and Arkansas out.

My field had Syracuse and Missouri St. in and Purdue and Stanford out.

The Bracket Project claims to have gotten everything right except for Syracuse. If that is true, hats off to them!

Personally, having done my own projections and tracked other brackets throughout the year, I think Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated did the best job. My biggest problem with Lunardi is that he seems to flip-flop on teams throughout the week. I’m sure that earlier this week he had ODU ahead of Drexel, and then suddenly within the last few days, the teams flipped. What happened? If anything, ODU’s chances had to improve after Georgetown won the Big East title.

Syrcause Is Out
Despite being in every bracket projection I can find, Syracuse is out. Before we assume this is a wrong decision, I want to point out that the committee is made up of people. No amount of number crunching can make up for the fact that in the end, the committee must reach a consensus about which teams are in. It wouldn’t surprise me if some people on the committee said, “There is no way I’m voting for Syracuse ahead of Drexel” and the other committee members said, “OK, then Syracuse is out.” In fact, I think there were plenty of people in the room who were happy to leave Syracuse out to send Boeheim a message, SCHEDULE SOME NON-CONFERENCE ROAD GAMES!!! (You would think that the re-jiggering of the RPI would have sent him the message.)

The fact that it is a committee also makes it hard for a team like Drexel to build a consensus. For all their road wins, there are always going to be some people who say that say that 5 losses in the CAA is too many for an at large team.

I think the reason a team like Illinois sneaks in is because there were no huge flaws other than the lack of top 25 wins. Illinois has no bad losses, good NCSOS, good last 10, good road/neutral, and in the end there was nothing for the nay-sayers on the committee to harp on.

Easy as copy and paste
In the end, I hit 63 of 65 teams just like many of the experts, but the big advantage for me is that I used a simple Excel formula. I didn’t spend hours crunching numbers or staring at schedules. I simply copied the data into Excel and copied my formula.

I’m not surprised that I was wrong about Missouri St. While they have a lot of top 100 wins, they had few wins against tournament bound teams. I sort of hinted that was likely when I projected my field. The fact that Purdue was in the field also did not surprise me since Purdue was my last team out.

I was surprised that Stanford was in while Syracuse was out. I really thought that the poor last 10 would hurt Stanford. Stanford has some good wins, but the overall profile is not that immaculate, (see RPI of 65), and I thought for sure the last 10 would have been the end.

Other Minor Predictions:
Good: I deserve credit for putting Arkansas in the field “regardless of the SEC final.”

Bad: I thought Illinois had leapfrogged Purdue.

Good: I predicted Duke would be a six seed.

Bad: I predicted that Memphis would get a shockingly low seed. (I’m still a little baffled why Memphis gets a 2 seed, while UNLV and Nevada get 7 seeds, and after last year’s George Washington squad was given an 8 seed.)
More tommorrow after I take some time to digest the brackets!