College Basketball Bracketology (2/11/2016)

#1 Seeds (Oklahoma, Iowa, Villanova, Maryland)

New Teams to Bracket: Clemson (at-large), St. Joe (at-large), Wisconsin (at-large), Belmont (OVC Projected Winner)

NCAA Mock Bracket #3

Last 8 Bubble Teams In (Best Teams First): St. Mary’s, Butler, Michigan, Washington, Cal, Clemson, St. Joe’s, Wisconsin

Last 8 Bubble Teams Out (Best Teams First): George Washington, Texas Tech, VCU, K-State, LSU, Oregon St, Tulsa (newcomer), Creighton (newcomer)


The Preseason AP Top 25 Poll: Can It Reveal 2015 Men’s National Champion?

The month of November is upon us. The last leaves are falling as we prepare for another husky, Midwestern winter.  While I certainly won’t be done with college football for another couple months, it’s time to also turn our attention to college basketball once again.  The preseason polls, conference rankings, and player-of-the-year candidates have been released so let the deliberation begin.

So much of the excitement of college basketball lies in March as the bracket is released and thousands of company pools turn a mundane work week into bragging right city. From Joe Lunardi to amateur bracketologists all across America, so much attention is focused on analyzing the statistics of March Madness according to one’s seed in the tourney.  But what about the Preseason AP Top 25 Poll?  Could there be secrets hidden inside it as well to predict who will be cutting down nets in the early spring of Indianapolis?  Let’s find out.

My objective of this mini, college basketball “study” was to see if I could discover some correlations and links between the Preseason AP poll in November and the 4 Final Four teams in April. I analyzed the last ten Preseason AP polls and Final Fours to help predict this year’s Final Four.  I gave very little consideration to the actual teams in their respective poll positions when I made my prediction.  Thus, these are predictions made without the proverbial “eye-test.”  The scope of this study is limited and not intended to be holistic, but rather an interesting and informational inquiry.  The following are my 10 findings and predictions:

  1. The Final Four teams’ mean preseason ranking and the champions mean preseason rankings were rather high (Final Four – 13.8, Champion 13.4). This is a result of a very wide range as teams ranked #1 through unranked (UConn‘11) have won the national championship in the last 10 years.
  1. The National Champion has been in the preseason top four 6 times. Thus, odds are better that Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin, or Duke will win it all than all the other teams combined.  However, 7 of the last 10 years (4 in last 5) have seen only one top 4 teams make it to the Final Four.  If we’re playing the odds, only one will make it to the Final Four, but they’ll win it.
  1. The #1, #2, and #4 teams have all won 2 championships each. #3 hasn’t won any, and has only reached the Final Four two times (sorry Wisconsin).
  1. Despite the top ranking, the #1 team has qualified for the Final Four only once in last 5 years. Even though that was Kentucky last year, I wouldn’t count on the Wildcats statistically-speaking with the bullseye on their back.  Also, only 1 team has repeated in last 10 years (Florida), making things appear bleaker for the Wildcats.
  1. The #2 team has reached the Final Four 3 times in last 5 years, and 5 times in last 10 years (more than #1). Things may be looking up for Arizona this season.
  1. Two times the National Champion has begun the season outside of the Preseason AP Top 25 (Florida ’06 & UConn ’11). Odds are good that the winner is in this poll, but don’t be completely shocked if a team off the map surprises us.
  1. Seven of the ten years, all 4 Final Four teams have started in the top 25. Once again, if you’re playing the odds, you have already narrowed it down to 25 teams.
  1. Let’s narrow it down even more. Six of the 10 years, at least 3 Final Four teams have been in the top 10.
  1. While #7 has only qualified for one Final Four in the last 10 years, #9 has made it to 3 in the last 5 years. Hello Virginia.

10. While #12 has not made it to a Final Four in the last 10 years (sorry Villanova), the #18 team has made it to 2 in the last 4 years. Is it a coincidence that this year’s #18 team is Michigan State?  I’ll take those odds.

Using these trends and statistics as a compass, the 2015 Final Four will consist of Arizona, Kansas, Virginia, & Michigan State. Arizona will beat Michigan State in the Championship game.