Monday, March 10, 2008

Preseason Predictions Revisited

Apparently the key to not looking like a fool is to make a limited number of semi-obvious predictions. Here’s a look back at what I said in the preseason:

1) Julian Wright’s exodus opened the door for Darrel Arthur to become a superstar for Kansas. Verdict – Mixed. While Arthur has been the leading scorer for Kansas for most of the season, and while he has been perhaps the most vital cog in the offense, Arthur still didn’t become a true superstar.

2) Wayne Ellington will make the crucial threes for UNC to win the close games this year. Verdict – Unknown. Yes, Ellington has one game winning three at the buzzer this year, but the jury is still out on this one. The biggest games are still to come for UNC.

3) Conference Predictions – Using coach performance in the regular season (last 5 years) and the talent level of each team, I predicted the conference winner and runner-up in the BCS conferences. (I ignored important factors such as player experience and post-season success in my model.)

Big Ten – Wisconsin edges Indiana.

Like John Gasaway, I was one of the few people to pick Wisconsin as Big Ten champ. And prior to Kelvin Sampson’s exodus, Indiana was certainly on pace for a second place finish. I missed on Purdue, but I wasn’t the only one.

ACC – North Carolina edges Duke.

Certainly I wasn’t going out on a limb here, but Duke was a little underrated in the preseason polls.

Big 12 – Kansas wins easily, Texas second

I got the two top teams right, but I certainly expected Kansas to be more dominant in the North.

SEC – Kentucky edges Tennessee

Kentucky ended up tied for second in the SEC, but I’m still not proud of that pick.

Pac 10 – UCLA wins easily, Arizona second

Hey, my ratings were based primarily on coach performance, so I’m going to blame the Arizona mistake on Lute Olson’s absence.

Big East – Georgetown wins easily, Pittsburgh second

“Easily” - yeah, about that. I can blame Pittsburgh’s troubles on injuries, but the truth is my model missed on Louisville when everyone else picked them. The issue is that I only used regular season coaching performance from the last 5 years, and Pitino’s Louisville teams have not won the Big East title yet.

I picked 9 of the 12 conference leaders correctly. So there you have it.

Mid-Major Bubble Bursting

Last week I also predicted that the MVC final would be less entertaining than the semis. And once again the investment by CBS in tired mid-major legs produced zero drama. Oh well, it wasn’t like the Big Ten game was more entertaining.

Hey Illinois St., nice defense at the end of the first half! Remember yesterday, when I said you’d probably get in as long as you didn’t get blown out in the MVC final?! Sigh.

Remember the committee is made up of people and not formulas. Just like those humans couldn’t agree to put Syracuse in last year’s field over a Drexel team they lost to, they could easily latch onto a 30 point loss and leave Illinois St. out. Sigh.

And don’t get me started on VCU losing to William and Mary. I’m going to crunch the numbers again on Monday and maybe, just maybe VCU still has a chance. But we were denied the highly desirable VCU – GMU CAA final.

On the plus side, Kent St. came close to locking up an at-large bid with a nice road win at second place Akron.

The ACC – Our Games Go Down to the Wire

It’s final, 35 of the 96 ACC games (36.5%) were decided by three points or less or overtime. I pointed out this trend in January and Ken Pomeroy kindly confirmed that this is a record for close games in a conference in the last decade.