by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, March 15, 2015
With conference tournament season wrapping up today, let’s look back at the five least-likely events over the past two weeks. This is based on the log5 analyses produced for each tournament so I’m not looking at any in-game scenarios. (So you won’t see Albany, whose championship game comeback overcame a 3.4% chance of winning.)
by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, March 13, 2015
During championship week, there’s lots of sympathy going around to teams that win their regular-season crown but fail to win the conference’s automatic bid. Some sympathy is deserved, but most of these teams are the big dog in their conference in terms of resources and tradition. Murray State and Iona will be back next season as their respective conference’s favorite and they’ll be in the mix to win the automatic bid. Sure, it sucks that this year’s seniors won’t be a part of that, but the fan base and the coaches will live to fight another day in the very near future.
by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Last season, the WAC tournament featured a two-seed in New Mexico State that had greater than a 60 percent chance of winning the event. The Aggies are clearly the best team in the league again, but this season their record reflects it. They finished 13-1, five games clear of their nearest challengers.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in all of college hoops has been UC Davis’s rise to the top of the Big West standings. Jim Les’s squad didn’t play the most challenging of non-conference schedules, but nonetheless has lost just five games all season, including a 16-2 record in conference play. (Although one sage observer predicted the Aggies were “primed to improve considerably on a 9-22 mark”.)
by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The Big Sky rewards its regular-season champ with hosting duties for the conference tourney. This season, the scramble for that very important distinction was pretty wild with four teams in the mix over the final two weeks. Montana improbably gave itself a shot at hosting by winning at Eastern Washington 77-76 on February 28. But they still needed Sacramento State to drop its final two games of the season, which is exactly what happened.
SMU and Cincinnati are safely in the field, but Temple is teetering on the edge, perhaps needing an opening-game win over Memphis (or more) to feel safe. And Tulsa’s got some work to do. The Golden Hurricane finished second in the conference on the strength of an unlikely 10-0 start in AAC play. Among those wins was a close call on the road against lowly UCF and an overtime win at home against a USF team that has a 1-in-23,426 chance of winning this tournament.
The Sun Belt employs the double stepladder format which gives the top two seeds a bye to semifinals. The favorite here is Georgia State, who is led by their junior wing, R.J. Hunter. Georgia State was preseason #66 and there was some anticipation that the Panthers could have a special season with Hunter’s leadership. They currently sit at #71 and the won the Sun Belt regular season title, so it’s not like the season was a disappointment in any sense. But they haven’t put together a profile that makes you feel good about getting a win or two in the NCAA tournament.
Texas has become the symbol of power conference privilege this season. Many people are questioning why the Longhorns deserve a bid, having failed to achieve a .500 record in conference play. “You’re a bunch of losers,” people say. At least that is what I am making them say in this argument. “If you can’t win half your games, you are not worthy of playing basketball. Give us Murray State. They won all of their games (in regular-season conference play),” these people might also say.
The SEC has the consensus best team in the land but then the next highest team is ranked 30th in my system. However, there are seven teams between 30 and 50, and two more between 50 and 70. While Kentucky got the bulk of the attention, there was a lot going on in the middle of the league. You get that many teams together of fairly equal quality and conference record is going to be determined by just a handful of possessions.
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, March 9, 2015
One of the things that has come out of doing preseason ratings is that a team can survive a lot of attrition is they return a high usage player. Oregon’s roster was gutted in the offseason for a variety of reasons, but they still had Joseph Young. They were preseason #34 and enter the Pac-12 tournament the 2-seed. (Though, their overall ranking is #49.)