Sunday, March 14, 2010

2010 NCAA Tournament: Historical Analysis of Upsets (5 vs 12 & 6 vs 11)

The most common first round upsets are the 5 vs 12 and 6 vs 11. The past few years, I broke down these matchups going back to 2004 using Overall Efficiency and other factors, mainly Offensive/Defensive Effective FG%. I updated the post with the 2009 final results and will be adding my analysis of the 2010 matchups once they are announced. Let me say this year's 5 vs 12 and 6 vs 11 matchups are ridiculously close, so we might see a high amount of "upsets."

Here's the schedule for the analysis I will be doing and links as I post each Part:

5 vs 12 Matchups: Team(Overall Efficiency Rank)

2009: Utah(25) lost to Arizona(39), Purdue(15) beat Northern Iowa(82), Florida State(35) lost to Wisconsin(30), and Western Kentucky(99) beat Illinois(23)

Analysis: 3 of the 4 #5 seeds lost last year with only a highly ranked Purdue team coming out victorious. Utah was done in by an Arizona squad that was from a major conference and only 14 spots lower than them in Overall Efficiency. Utah was also overseeded at #5 and probably should have been a #7 seed. Wisconsin beating Florida State was almost a given considering they had a better overall efficiency and had the luxury of being from a major conference, which is always a key indicator of upsets in the 5 vs 12 matchups. Western Kentucky was semi-hot coming into this one with a 7 game win streak and they also had NCAA Tournament experience from the previous year, which helped them knock off a decent Illinois team.

2008: Clemson(13) lost to Villanova(43), Michigan State(15) beat Temple(65), Drake(27) lost to Western Kentucky(59), and Notre Dame(28) beat George Mason(94)

Analysis: Two upsets in 2008 with Clemson and Drake both getting knocked off. Clemson is an interesting case considering they were ranked in the top 13 in efficiency overall. They were done in by Villanova who had some of the worst effective FG% in the tournament, but their overall efficiency ratings in both offense(61) and defense(34) were not THAT far off from Clemson's ratings(29, 12). It also helped that Villanova was a veteran squad that played in a big conference, which means they certainly weren't worried if they could match up with Clemson, so they were not your typical 12 seed. Western Kentucky beating Drake was not a surprise, since their effective FG%'s on both offense and defense were better than Drake's.

2007: Butler(25) beat Old Dominion(73), USC(27) beat Arkansas(36), Tennessee(31) beat LB State(136), and Va Tech(39) beat Illinois(33)

Analysis: No upsets in 2007, but a couple of 12 seeds(Arkansas & Illinois) probably shouldn't have been 12 seeds but they both were flawed teams. Illinois was bad on offense and Arkansas had an average offense.

2006: Pitt(12) beat Kent St(75), Washington(13) beat Utah St(72), Nevada(35) lost to Montana(88), Syracuse(51) lost to Texas A&M(25)

Analysis: Only one upset here as Montana knocked off Nevada. Nevada was actually a better team but Montana had a better offense, especially since they were 9 in the country in Effective FG %. That was probably the driving factor in the upset. Also, it is worth nothing that a 5 seed that has an overall efficiency ranking in the Top 15(Pitt & Washington), probably isn't going to lose to a 12 seed.

2005: Villanova(5) beat New Mexico(36), Michigan St(7) beat Old Dominion(72), Alabama(17) lost to Wisc-Milw.(42), and Georgia Tech(21) beat George Washington(46)

Analysis: Two of the 5 seeds(Villanova and Mich St) were Top 10 teams in the country so they were badly underseeded. Both of them ended up losing to eventual champion North Carolina so that is nothing to be ashamed of. The one upset was Wisc.-Milw. beating Alabama. Alabama was a solid team overall that year and the numbers don't really explain why they lost, except that Wisc-Milw. was pretty good at holding opponents to a low effective FG%. So I figured there must be something else going on here and I saw that they had a 9 game winning streak coming into the matchup so they were a hot team.

2004: Illinois(11) beat Murray St(71), Providence(23) lost to Pacific(77), Syracuse(25) beat BYU(39), Florida(26) lost to Manhattan(57);

Analysis: Illinois was ranked too high to lose to a 12 seed, but there were 2 upsets this year. Providence fell victim to Pacific who was riding a 15 game win streak coming into this game. Pacific was also better in both offensive and defensive FG %. Manhattan knocked off Florida mainly because Florida had just an average defensive FG % and Manhattan was pretty good in that area. They also had won 19 of their last 21 games.

This Years 5 vs 12 Matchups:

Michigan State (24) vs New Mexico State (115): Michigan State draws by far the worst of the 12 seeds. I had New Mexico State as a 14 seed and the Spartans are lucky they didn't draw #13th seeded Murray State in this spot. NM state is led by guards Jahmar Young & Johnathan Gibson who can both stroke the 3 and they also have a 7-footer in Hamidu Rahman. Michigan State has trouble protecting the ball and forcing turnovers, but they are strong on the boards and that's an area that New Mexico State struggles in. NM State is also a poor defensive team(222nd overall) and that could be there undoing in this one. I wouldn't be completely shocked to see an upset here, but after last year I'm scared to pick against Tom Izzo and I'd have to lean towards the Spartans.

Butler (26) vs UTEP (34): This is the first of several 5 vs 12 & 6 vs 11 matchups where the teams are so close in efficiency you might as well just throw the rankings out the window. Everyone seems to like UTEP in this one and I agree that they have a shot. Both teams are solid in most areas, except the both struggle on the offensive boards and also shooting the 3-point shot somewhat. This one should be a war between a Butler team that has won 20 straight and a UTEP team that has won 16 of their last 17. It's really a shame one of these teams won't get out of the 1st round. Right now I'm leaning towards UTEP.

Temple (18) vs Cornell (66): Jay Bilas is loving himself some Cornell right now, but Temple is a very strong team and I don't think they will go down easily. Their weakness is obviously their offense which ranks 77th overall in offensive efficiency thanks to their poor effective FG%(165 overall), Offensive Reb. %(162 overall), and Free Throw Rate(340 overall). They also only shoot the three at 33.8& clip. Cornell is 3rd in the nation in effective FG%, which is driven by them being the top three-point shooting team in the nation at 43.8%. Cornell certainly has the offense to score some points against a Temple defense that is 3rd overall in country in defensive efficiency and 1st in defensive effective FG%. I think this one will be close and Bilas will be right about Cornell pulling off the upset.

Texas A&M (23) vs Utah State (20): This is another matchup between teams ranked pretty evenly. Utah State is ranked 14th in offensive efficiency, 8th in off. effective FG%, 13th in preventing turnovers, and 2nd in 3-point shooting. The offensive is definitely stellar. The question is whether or not Utah State has the athleticism to defend Texas A&M. I'm not sure they do and I compare them to BYU in that sense. Both of these teams play at a slow pace, so that might help Utah State. I don't know which way to go on this one, but right now I'm leaning towards Utah State.

6 vs 11 Matchups: Team(Overall Efficiency Rank)

2009: West Virginia(8) lost to Dayton(83), Marquette(20) beat Utah State(56), UCLA(9) beat VCU(55), and Arizona State(12) beat Temple(47)

Analysis: West Virginia(8) was the rare case of a team that was underseeded(they graded out as #2 seed) that was upset in the 1st round. Usually these types of teams are the types to pull off the upsets in the later rounds. A closer look at West Virginia and Dayton shows that even though these two teams were so far part in overall efficiency, they were also pretty similar in most categories. They both were poor shooting teams, who rebounded well, and had solid defense. In the end, that proved to be enough for Dayton to pull off the upset. The other three #6 seeds were underseeded as well, but still struggled against their tough opponents, especially UCLA and Marquette, who squeaked out one-point victories. I suspect these 6 vs 11 games will be toss ups again this year.

2008: Marquette(11) beat Kentucky(55), USC(26) lost to Kansas State(17), Purdue(23) beat Baylor(42), and Oklahoma(46) beat St. Joe's(54)

Analysis: USC lost to Kansas State, but considering that K-State ranked better than USC in efficiency, this is just a case of poor seeding. Anytime the lower seeded team is ranked higher than the top seed in a matchup like this, it would be a good bet to pick the upset. On the flip side, Marquette was also badly underseeded as a 6 seed, so no surprise they were able to get past Kentucky.

2007: Duke(11) lost to VCU(66), Louisville(12) beat Stanford(53), Notre Dame(20) lost to Winthrop(69), and Vanderbilt(35) beat George Washington(92)

Analysis: Two big upsets here with Duke and ND going down. The Duke upset was surprising, because they graded out well overall at 11, but they had lost three straight games coming into the tournament and they were a very slow paced team that year, so they may not have been as athletic as a normal Duke team. The Winthrop upset was not as surprising, they were 24 in offensive FG% and had won 18 straight games before upsetting ND and making it 19 straight.

2006: West Virginia(16) beat Southern Illinois(47), Michigan State(33) lost to George Mason(23), Indiana(46) beat San Diego St(56), and Oklahoma(50) lost to Wisc-Milw.(63)

Analysis: George Mason at 23 was actually a better team then Michigan St so it's no surprise they won the game. Oklahoma was probably seeded to high with an overall rank of 50, they probably should have been a 10 or 11 seed themselves. They were basically equal with Wisc-Milw. but Wisc Milw. was a fast paced team while Oklahoma was one of the slowest paced teams, so WM was able to quicken up the pace of the game to beat Oklahoma.

2005: Wisconsin(16) beat Northern Iowa(54), Utah(22) beat UTEP(66), Texas Tech(30) beat UCLA(69), and LSU(38) lost to UAB(51)

Analysis: Only one upset here as LSU lost to UAB. LSU was a slow paced team that was bad on defense and it showed as they gave up 82 points to UAB, who was one of the fastest paced teams that season. So it's no surprise they ran all over LSU.

2004: Wisconsin(5) beat Richmond(40), North Carolina(10) beat Air Force(47), Vanderbilt(24) beat Western Michigan(48) and Boston College(31) beat Utah(41)

Analysis: No upsets here since all four of the 6 seeds were solid teams who were in the top 30 in defensive efficiency.

This years 6 vs 11 Matchups:

Tennessee (35) vs San Diego State (40): The first of the 6 vs 11 matchups that might as well be 8 vs 9 games based on the efficiency rankings of each team. San Diego State is hot winning 9 of their last 10 games. They have a chance in this one because Tennessee is not as strong offensively(99 in offensive efficiency) as they were in past years. Neither team shoots the three well, but SD State is strong on the offensive boards(8th overall) and may be able to exploit Tennessee in that area. I think the sub-par offense of Tennessee will play in San Diego State's favor and they will be victorious.

Xavier (22) vs Minnesota (25): I really like this Xavier team as they do a lot of different things well on both offense and defense. Their only really weakness is that they don't force turnovers, but they rank in the top 100 on both sides of the ball in all of the other main statistical categories. I also love the playmaking and scoring ability of Jordan Crawford, who I think could have a breakout performance in the tournament. Meanwhile, Minnesota is no slouch themselves and is a good all around team. They are the 8th best 3-point shooting team, but Xavier happens to defend the three extremely well holding teams to just 29.4%. That's definitely going to be a key part of this matchup. I like Xavier in this one when all is said and done.

Marquette (28) vs Washington (29): Washington does not shoot the 3 well at just 32.5% and they will have to use their offensive rebounding strength(35th overall) against a weak rebounding Marquette team. Luckily for Marquette, who is one of the smallest teams in the nation, Washington is also on the small side. This may negative Marquette's rebounding issues, since they are used to going up against bigger Big East teams. Marquette is an excellent 3-point shooting team at 40.6%, which is 7th best in the nation. I also like the fact that Marquette plays at a slow pace(303rd in the nation) versus Washington's fast pace(10th in the nation). If Marquette is able to slow the game down then Washington might have trouble in a half court game. I like Marquette in this one.

Notre Dame (38) vs Old Dominion (33): Notre Dame is the 6 seed here, but Old Dominion actually has a better efficiency ranking. However, this isn't the same Notre Dame team that we saw at the beginning of the season. It's possible they are playing at a better efficiency level than Old Dominion right now. Their main weakness is their defense (140th overall), but it seems they have improved a great deal in that area late in the season. Old Dominion struggles a bit offensively and they don't shoot the three well. They did beat Georgetown, but they lost 5 other games in their non-conference schedule to teams that were pretty highly ranked efficiency wise. This is one of the toughest matchups to pick. I want to pick Old Dominion, but I feel like Notre Dame is the better team on paper.

More: March Madness

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