Monday, March 21, 2011

VCU Wins The Weekend

I want to have a few posts recapping the weekend if I can find the time to put them up. One post has to be about VCU. Let me give you three angles on VCU:

1) Of all of the teams pre-Tournament, VCU is by far the most improbable Sweet 16 team that actually made it. Pomeroy's pre-Tournament projections gave VCU a 1.2% chance of making the Sweet 16. To put that in perspective, the second least probable team to make it was Butler - a team given a 10.9% chance. Even Richmond, the lowest seed still alive (a 12) was given a 14.9% chance. After VCU was given a bid, I did my annual post on the computer ratings of the final few at-large teams and the best teams left out. VCU was by far the worst team given an at-large bid. For the season as a whole they were approximately as good as Rutgers, Iowa and Colorado State. They lost four of their final five regular season games, including losses to James Madison (at home!) and Drexel. They also lost games earlier in the season to Northeastern, Georgia State and South Florida. They had only one Pomeroy Top 50 win outside of conference play (Wichita State). They had to pull a relatively big upset to take out USC, then beat a strong 6 seed in Georgetown, and then beat the strongest 3 seed in the field (Purdue). And not a single game was even close.

2) That Purdue performance in particular stands out. While it was the biggest single upset in the Tournament so far, it's certainly not an all-time improbable upset. Ohio over Georgetown last year was bigger. And it's not even in the same realm as something like Coppin State over South Carolina. But in terms of performance versus expected performance, VCU's offense in that game was one of the most remarkable I've ever seen. Purdue scored 1.16 PPP and still got destroyed. Entering the NCAA Tournament, VCU had played 13 games against the Pomeroy Top 100, and in 7 of the 13 had failed to break 1 point per possession (PPP) on offense. Their biggest offensive explosion of the season was a 1.28 PPP performance in a home destruction of Northeastern in mid-January. Against Purdue they put up 1.43 PPP. And Purdue? They were only the best defense in the Big Ten, allowing 0.99 PPP in Big Ten games, and only 0.94 overall. The biggest offensive performance they had allowed all season was 1.23 PPP, on the road at Ohio State, the best offense in the entire nation. So that 1.43 PPP is just extraordinary statistically.

3) VCU's band will get some more attention from me because I did some youtubing today. I talked about how blown away I was by them in person on Friday. With the miracle of the Intertubes, somebody on youtube has already posted a clip of them from yesterday:

Somebody on youtube had already posted a highlight reel of VCU band director Ryan Kopacsi, which is also worth a watch to see how insane he is:

Anybody who has ever been to the NCAA Tournament knows how interminable those tv timeouts are, which makes a band like that so great. If you have tickets to see VCU this coming week, don't miss the chance.

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