View Full Version : Sun Sentinel "Something sour about this Sweet 16: predictability"

03-25-2009, 12:25 PM
I thought this was a fun read, out of the Sun Sentinel (http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/college/march-madness/la-sp-ncaa-dufresne25-2009mar25,0,3028446.column?page=1) in Florida.
Something sour about this Sweet 16: predictability

With the top three seeded teams advancing in every regional, it appears the NCAA selection committee did its job a little too well. How about introducing an element of chance to the process?

Chris Dufresne
March 25, 2009

Something is wrong when a United States president, facing crises that threaten the globe, can pick 14 of the 16 teams left in the NCAA tournament.


Something doesn't feel right when the "feel-good story" at this stage is poor, helpless, out-of-nowhere, 12th-seeded Arizona, which is being asked to take on No. 1 Louisville this week armed with only two first-round NBA draft picks and 25 straight years of NCAA tournament know-how.


People will try to sell the breakthroughs of the three mid-majors: Memphis, Xavier and Gonzaga.

Don't buy it.

Gonzaga was a cute kid 10 years ago, but now it has mutton chops, smokes like a chimney and drives a Harley.

It is almost impossible to get excited about a school, even Bing Crosby's school, that is making its 11th consecutive tournament trip.

Could it be the NCAA committee has gotten so proficient at bracket-selection it has sucked the essence out of it?

The committee works so diligently now at balancing and seeding that it may have over-baby-proofed the playpen.

It almost provides red-carpet limo service for the top teams; North Carolina gets leather seats and a driver through games at Greensboro and now Memphis.

03-25-2009, 12:30 PM
I'd rather drive a Harley than get red-carpet limo service.

03-25-2009, 12:36 PM
There is no question that the committee has gotten better at seeding the tournament, and part of that involves giving proper seeds to non-BCS teams who are really good. The reason why the tournament had so many upsets 7 or 8 years ago was because the committee regularly assigned 29 win non-BCS teams double digit seeds when they deserved 6's, 5's and such.

However, I think the lack of cinderella in this tournament is because the non-BCS teams, as a whole, just weren't all that great this year. A league like the Missouri Valley Conference is normally a multi-bid league. They really didn't have a single team this year that was worthy of an at large bid. It'll turn around again once a lot of the younger players in leagues like the MVC and MAC get experience.

03-25-2009, 02:32 PM
The last 2 years have really been "boring" in terms of the better seeds making it deep in the tourney - this year is the first the top 3 seeds in all brackets have made it. Last year was the first all #1 seed FF. It's also been the last couple of years when the NBA draft rules have come into play and led to a lot of one-and-done players in college that would have otherwise gone to the NBA. It's always been conventional wisdom that one really great player can carry a team through the tourney. I'm not sure the arrival of (nearly) NBA-ready players and the fact of elite teams performing better are just coincidences.

Pleasant Peninsula
03-25-2009, 03:12 PM
A few points:

1) This:

Gonzaga was a cute kid 10 years ago, but now it has mutton chops, smokes like a chimney and drives a Harley.

is really funny.

2) CDC is right, the mid-majors just didn't have as great a year this year. We can quibble about Saint Mary's or San Diego State belonging, but if they had performed a bit better, they would have been solidly in the field. But they didn't.

3)I think pundits are drawing too many conclusions based on the results of this one tournament. They did the same thing in 2006, when all hell broke loose, but the conclusions were opposite to those made now. The truth of the matter is, the "chalky" nature of this years Sweet 16 is a fluke and will not be repeated again any time soon. A few different bounces from a few different balls last week, and this year's S16 lineup appears totally different. I'm not comfortable drawing conclusions from such a random sequence of events.

03-25-2009, 03:41 PM
I don't know how much of the "predictability" factor can be tied into NBA age limit, because I think that depends on the quality of the recruiting class. Last year's class was outstanding with guys like Derrick Rose and Kevin Love who were NBA ready prospects. In the 2008 class, there wasn't a single player who was a "transcendent" freshman who could just step right into the NBA. Even top freshmen like Tyreke Evans and Willie Warren have big holes in their respective games. The top prospect in 2008 class, Greg Monroe, wasn't even able to elevate his team into a NCAA tournament team. I think if the age limit weren't in place, you wouldn't have seen many 2008 kids go to the draft right out of high school, and if they did, very few would've been lottery picks.

03-25-2009, 04:31 PM
I think one of the reasons that it is so predictable this year is because not very many mid-major at-large teams were included. The sample size of quality games that the selection committee has to look at for middle of the pack major conference schools is a lot larger than the few quality games that mid-majors get to play.

If you are 26-4 and have played only two top-50 teams all season it is hard to determine whether you should be a 6 seed or a 12 seed.

If you are 20-11 and have played 19 top-50 teams it is much easier to tell exactly where that team fits in the picture.

Also, I think each season the data available to the committee is better. Efficiency numbers are relatively new and are being used more and more to help get an idea of how good a team actually is. The RPI is a tool, but not a very good one, so the newer and additional data helps take the mystery away too.

I think if we see 8 at-large mid-majors next season rather than 4, it will be a lot less predictable.

03-25-2009, 05:18 PM
I've been yearning for a little chaos in there as well, and as such have started wishing for a lottery system for seeding.

Even if weighted by an initial seeding (like the NBA draft) it'd still add some entropy to the system to shake things up. I think a compelling argument could be made for a straight unweighted lottery too.

But then, I'm a computer scientist, and thusly probably not a good judge of systems. :)

03-25-2009, 05:35 PM
Best I could do on short notice:

03-25-2009, 05:41 PM

Pretty danged good, outrunu!

03-25-2009, 05:58 PM
Best I could do on short notice:
:clap: :clap: :clap: