Hi Ken,

Here is the list of the 10 teams from last season who were, according to your rankings, the most unlucky, yet still in the top 100 overall (from most to least unlucky last season):

Virginia Tech
Notre Dame
Washington State
Kansas State
Georgia Tech
Oklahoma State

Pretty amazing that here on the last day of February, all 10 of them would at least receive serious consideration for an at-large bid in the NCAAs, if not a high seed in the case of Washington State, Virginia Tech, Oregon, and Butler

It appears that the bottom of the luck ratings from last season is the place to go to find next year’s surprise teams… so look out for Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and LSU in 2008!


You know how I feel about the luck parameter and its potential as a fruitful tool in your analysis arsenal. Between that and schedule strength, I really think you can gain a leg up on your pals in pinpointing surprises. For instance, until the loss to Washington, folks were convinced UCLA should be the number one overall seed. But the gap between them and the second-best team in their conference is probably larger than for any other potential number one. In light of that, shouldn’t we expect UCLA to be winning more than its counterparts? And does that winning alone tell us that UCLA is better than its counterparts?

These two items – luck and schedule, both past and future – will be a big part of the bracket breakdown next week, so if you’re tired of reading about it here, you’ve been warned.

But back to the luck notion, let’s think about 2007 first. I’ve made no secret of my affinity for Mississippi State as a serious player on the national scene next season. Horrendous luck and a young, deep team figure to equal surprising success in the following season. But what about some success for the upcoming week?

The Bulldogs did what they needed to do on Sunday to set themselves up for a realistic SEC tourney run – they beat a Ronald Steele-less Alabama and secured a first-round bye. At 8-8, they don’t deserve that bye, but I didn’t make up the SEC seeding rules. The fact is, they own a free pass to the quarterfinals which nearly doubles their chances of winning next Sunday.

If MSU plays the way it did against the Tide, it wouldn’t be hard to envision them cutting down the Georgia Dome nets. But that kind of play is not sustainable by the Bulldogs, especially away from the Hump, if the previous 28 games are an indication. They’re going to need some breaks to win three in a row, and the log5 analysis confirms that.

             Qtrs  Semis  Finals  Champs
1E  Florida   100   83.3   67.6    50.7    
4E  Kentucky 71.5   45.8   31.1    13.9    
1W  MSU       100   42.3   23.0     7.5    
3W  Ark      81.2   46.6   21.0     7.0    
3E  Tenn     55.4   37.1   10.9     5.3    
2E  Vandy     100   49.0   18.7     5.1    
5E  Georgia  68.2   13.5    7.0     3.1    
6W  LSU      44.6   27.6    7.0     3.1
2W  Miss      100   35.3    6.3     2.1    
5W  Alabama  28.5   11.9    4.8     1.3    
4W  Auburn   31.8    3.3    1.1     0.3    
6E  USC      18.8    4.4    0.7     0.1

While they are fortunate to have the bye, they still have a potential tilt with Kentucky in their first game. Thus their chances are only about 13-to-1 to win it all. This doesn’t include the Monday ratings update. And maybe they’re even a little better still, if you consider that they’ll get an unrested Kentucky or Alabama team in the quarters, which is a scenario that log5 doesn’t account for. But even 13-to-1 isn’t bad for a team playing for a bid in a conference with the defending national champs and three other teams that project as locks.

Finally, if you take the eight teams apparently playing for NCAA tournament entry, their collective chance of winning the title is around 25%. The may make the SEC the conference most likely to provide bubble burstage outside the WAC.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Mississippi State sit this one out, because I’d like to get some more mileage out of them heading into next season. And the fact is, they’re likely to be an underdog in their first game, so I should get my wish. But don’t count out the possibility that the selection committee will be scrambling on Sunday afternoon to make room for an SEC team that wasn’t supposed to crash the brackets.