Monday, March 20, 2017

Sweet Little Sixteen

This post is a diversion, allowing me to dovetail two different "sweet sixteens," each of which is timely.  The first is the Chuck Berry classic song from 1958.  The tune and lyric are both so familiar.  Also, it is kind of amazing to see a young Johnny Carson with Dick Clark before the song starts.

The other Sweet Sixteen is in reference to the NCAA Men's basketball tournament.  Yesterday, they completed the round of 32.  I put the remaining teams in Excel, along with their seed and their conference.  Then I sorted the information, once by conference, then again by seed.  The results are below.  A bit of analysis follows.

After the round of 64 had concluded, there was some criticism of the seedings, particularly Wisconsin and Witchita State being under seeded.  One factor that they don't use is prior tournament experience.  For both of those teams that may have mattered, perhaps a lot.  Yet at this juncture the seeding looks pretty good.  Of the top sixteen seeded teams (those who were seeded 1, 2, 3, or 4) twelve of them remain.  All of those teams won their games in the round of 64.  The Twelve that remain also won their games in the round of 32.  So they collectively went 28-4.  That seems pretty good work to me.

Three teams seeded 1, two teams seeded 2, three teams seeded 3, and all four teams seeded 4 remain.    Only one team seeded above 8 remains, Xavier, an 11 seed.

Regarding conferences, I read yesterday some stuff about the ACC being overrated.  A couple of points should be made on that score.  First, the sample size is small.  Odd things can happen then.  Second, injury that doesn't get reported in the press can matter, but we  fans are unaware so think the team we are rooting for is in a funk.  Third, some teams do find a rhythm near the end of the season so their level of play then is higher than it was earlier in the year.  It is hard to sort out the importance of the various effects - talent, chemistry, and experience.  This is what makes watching fun.  There is unpredictability in it.  See my post from several years ago, Small Samples, Hot Hands, and Flow.

Finally, you can look here to see how all the conferences fared since the round of 32 was completed.  With the exception of Gonzaga, all the remaining teams are from power conferences.  The results don't show that any one conference is better than the others.  But they do seem to indicate that schools from non-power conferences may be at a disadvantage, especially those that haven't previously broken into the upper echelon.  Middle Tennessee State put on a good showing as did Rhode Island.  They are the exceptions that prove the rule.

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