The NCAA tournament sort of got underway last night with two play-in games. In the second game, St. Bonaventure was the little engine that could overcome a big brand school from a big brand conference. UCLA had size and talent on its side, but the Bonnies proved that quickness, desire and aggressiveness win ball games. Unfortunately, it is difficult to measure or compute quickness, desire and aggressiveness and include them in our calculations. Nonetheless, those traits made the difference last night.

The game also provided another data point in favor of a point we made a few posts ago: the Pac 12 conference was down this year. For those of you who consider conference affiliation when picking picks, we rank the conferences as follows:

  1. ACC
  2. Big East
  3. SEC
  4. Big 12 (overrated by experts who mistake parity for quality)
  5. Big Ten
  6. American Conference
  7. Pac 12

Shamefully, the Pac 12 does not rank in the top 6 among the Power Six conferences.

For those of you who like momentum plays, we calculated the performance grades for the last ten games of the season, including conference tournament games. We would expect most people to name Kansas and Michigan as teams that stepped up their game down the stretch. If so, you’d have one right and one not as right. Kansas did play somewhat better over its last ten games, a grade of 108.6 versus its seasonal average of 106.93, but that improvement was just twelfth best among our forty ranked teams. Michigan, on the other hand, averaged a whopping 114.41 over its final ten games, good for third best during that period.

The teams that played the best down the stretch were:

  1. Virginia 116.77
  2. North Carolina 115.17
  3. Michigan 114.41
  4. Gonzaga 112.40
  5. Cincinnati 111.31

The teams that played the poorest probably won’t be a surprise:

  1. Oklahoma 83.26
  2. Arizona State 90.26
  3. Creighton 92.28
  4. Butler 92.57
  5. Alabama 93.41

Today we added Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Missouri to our rankings so we have all of the top eight seeds in the table at A quick look will tell you that we disagree with many of the selection committee’s seeds. We believe the committee was mislead by the invalid math of the RPI and by its newest toy, the Quadrant system (based upon the illogical RPI). We’re filling brackets today and we’re going chalk based upon our rankings.

Good luck to everyone, especially those employees of Warren Buffet who can win $1 million a year for life if they get all 16 teams in the Sweet Sixteen correct. Over the last 33 years the average number of teams from each seed line to make the Sweet Sixteen were as follows:

  • #1 seeds – 3.5 teams, meaning one #1 is upset about every other year;
  • #2 seeds – 2.5 teams, meaning one #2 is always booted in the second round
  • #3 seeds – 2.1 teams, meaning two #3 seeds are likely to lose in the second round
  • #4 seeds – 1.9 teams, ditto #3 seeds
  • #5 seeds – 1.3 teams
  • #6 seeds – 1.26 teams
  • #7 seeds – 0.75 teams
  • #8 seeds – 0.4 teams
  • #9 seeds – 0.14 teams (they sometimes beat #8 but not #1)
  • #10 seeds – 0.7 teams
  • #11 seeds – 0.6 teams
  • #12 seeds – 0.6 teams (often upset a #5 in the first round but not the #4 in the second round)
  • #13 seeds – 0.18 teams
  • #14 seeds – 0.06 teams
  • #15 seeds – 0.03 teams
  • #16 seeds – has never happened

Remember that you can’t win your pool if you don’t pick the tournament winner. Collectively, 1, 2, and 3 seeds are 7 to 1 favorites against the field so concentrate on those top three spots (a dozen teams). The #1 seeds are better than 2 to 1 favorites over the 2 and 3 seeds.

Verbum sapienti sat.