by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, March 5, 2015
The Valley is going to produce two high-seeded teams in the NCAA tournament but the problem for the conference is that the bottom end has performed very poorly. Of the four teams playing Thursday evening, Southern Illinois is ranked #242. The winners will be fodder for the top two teams. The only realistic bid thief is fourth-seeded Illinois State and it appears that the Redbirds’ Reggie Lynch will lead the country in block percentage for the second consecutive season. So there’s that. But Wichita State and Northern Iowa went 31-1 against the rest of the conference so Arch Madness might not be particularly mad this week.
I enjoyed reading this piece about Iona coach Tim Cluess. Cluess vents about the continued decreased in scoring in college hoops and mainly pins the blame on controlling coaches. The root cause of the problem is probably more complicated than that, but I compliment Cluess on his candor. Of course, it’s easy to bash your profession coming off a season where you went 24-7 and 17-3 in league play. But it is perplexing that more coaches don’t exploit what seems to be a market inefficiency in terms of playing uptempo basket
by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, March 4, 2015
While more conferences are taking the plunge into playing all games at the higher-seeded team, no other league has yet joined the NEC in its hard-core effort for fairness by reseeding the bracket for the semifinals. Last year, fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s overcame the challenge and won the tournament in one of the more unlikely title runs of 2014. They went on the road to beat the top two seeds and turn a 4.9 percent chance of a title into an NCAA tournament bid.
by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Cliff Ellis has the life, man. As head coach of Coastal Carolina, he gets to live near the beach, coach at a school with a new arena, and regardless of how his team does during the regular season, it gets to host the Big South tournament. While other conferences of a similar stature have adopted formats that reward the regular season, the Big South will hold its tournament at the home of the three-seed.
The OVC begins its tournament Wednesday night with all games being played at the Nashville Auditorium. The top seed is Murray State who blew through the 16-game conference slate without a loss, one of three teams nationally to go unbeaten in conference play. The Racers were taken to overtime twice and played four other single-digit games, so even though Murray is riding a 24-game winning streak, we shouldn’t assume they’re invincible.
I’ve been doing this for a few years, and it seems like it used to be common that the top seed would not be the favorite to win its tournament. But over the years, more conferences have engineered their bracket to reward regular season play (the nerve!). This season America East joins the party by going to a Patriot League-style tournament where all games are played at the home of the higher seeded team.
Add the Atlantic Sun to the list of conferences spiking the single-site format and putting all games at campus sites. This means the 818-seat Hodge Center at USC-Upstate will get to host a tournament game, so citizens of Spartanburg, get your tickets fast. (Though the Spartans drew 866 to their season opener, so if you really want to go, they’ll probably let you stand in the corner of the gym.)
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, March 2, 2015
The Horizon League features a surprise top seed as presumptive preseason-favorite Green Bay was caught by Valparaiso, who won eight of its last nine to beat the Phoenix by a game. The two are rated almost identically, but the top seed is rewarded with home court, so the Crusaders are the favorite to snag the auto-bid.
The Patriot League tips off tournament basketball Tuesday night and with that begins a series of posts with tables featuring numbers between zero and one. We’re using the low-tech log5 method and my ratings to estimate each team’s chance of winning its conference tournament. From now through next Wednesday, you’ll see periodic posts breaking down the bracket for each of the 31 conference tourneys. (Or 32 if Harvard and Yale work out an unlikely tie atop the Ivy League.)
by Nic Reiner on Sunday, March 1, 2015
My favorite aspect of win probability models is the concept of leverage. As Ken Pomeroy wrote in 2010, Leverage measures how much is at stake on a particular possession.
I’m especially interested in how leverage functions as an unorthodox stand-in for excitement level and game tension in basketball.
Considering we now have win probability graphs for five years’ worth of NCAA tournaments, I thought it would be fun to examine which of the tourney games played over the past half-decade contained the largest percentage of high-impact possessions— and thus had the most high-leverage basketball. The sample spans 332 NCAA tournament games played from 2010-2014. Before we review the games, here is more from Ken’s introduction to leverage:
The colors [denoting leverage] range from blue, where win probability is largely unaffected by the potential outcome of a possession, to yellow, where the outcome of a possession can have significant impact on the win probability (more precisely, at least a 10% swing between a 2-point possession and zero points). Leverage is not based on what happened during the possession, but is the range of win probability based on what could have happened.
And here is a relevant excerpt from a piece I did on leverage last year:
By categorizing possessions within a game by leverage, we can distill the substance of a close game to its most granular level: the range of outcomes of a single possession. It is on these graphs that we are able to see which possessions were most important, even if they did not seem so at the time. 10+ percent swings in win probability are momentous and exciting to think about, especially when they’re happening at various, seemingly tranquil points in the game.
Below are the 15 NCAA tournament games (played from 2010-2014) with the largest percentage of high-impact possessions, listed in order from lowest to highest. If you have a subscription, be sure to also click on the win probability graphs for each game listed. It’s half the fun and they feature a lot of yellow.