Friday, March 21, 2008

So Much For Intuition

I talked earlier about how Drake's Tournament run would help settle whether I should trust my intuition or the numbers. My intuition said that Drake is a very good team that was underrated as a #5 seed. The numbers said that they were set for an early upset. I couldn't bring myself to take Drake to actually lose their first game, but I split the difference and switched my second round victor from Drake to UConn. Now, I'm still not sure I'd bet on Drake to lose that first game if they play the game again. But the numbers said that this would be a close one - the classic 5/12 game. WKU came shooting out of a rifle, while Drake was at least partially looking ahead. Once the Hilltoppers opened up a late double-digit lead, Drake finally felt the pressure come off. They were playing with house money and made a frantic comeback. Once they got it into overtime, you had to figure that WKU couldn't beat them twice, as the saying goes. But when you're in a close game, sometimes stuff happens... like a 27 footer as time runs out.

As for Saint Mary's, once again the numbers prove right. It's amazing how good the Sagarin ratings are for putting together a bracket. A couple days ago I picked the six Tournament teams with the largest disparities in their ELO_CHESS and PREDICTOR rankings. The three teams most likely to over-achieve all pulled off first round victories. The two teams most likely to under-achieve that have played so far have lost their first game. That's a pretty bad omen for Vanderbilt tonight.

Finally, UConn is definitely in a lot of trouble against San Diego. In every way, the Toreros are the poor man's Gonzaga. And we all know that Gonzaga was most dangerous early in its run, when it was the underdog that could sneak up on the powerhouses. San Diego is not going to blow this game with stupid mistakes, like Belmont did yesterday. If anything, the Huskies have been a sloppy team all year, and will probably be the messier team in the second half. The only way UConn is going to win this game is if they play a very strong second half. San Diego is absolutely not going to beat itself.

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