Monday, March 14, 2016

Complete South Region Analysis

My Picks:
11. Wichita State over 11. Vanderbilt

1. Kansas over 16. Austin Peay
9. UConn over 8. Colorado
5. Maryland over 12. South Dakota State
4. California over 13. Hawaii
6. Arizona over 11. Wichita State
3. Miami over 14. Buffalo
7. Iowa over 10. Temple
2. Villanova over 15. UNC-Asheville

1. Kansas over 9. UConn
4. California over 5. Maryland
6. Arizona over 3. Miami
2. Villanova over 7. Iowa

1. Kansas over 4. California
6. Arizona over 2. Villanova

1. Kansas over 6. Arizona


The Arizona/Wichita State/Vanderbilt game is stupid: It seems every year that the Selection Committee puts together one Round of 64 game just to piss off analytics folks. Iowa/Tennessee in a play-in game in 2014 and Memphis playing Saint Louis in an 8/9 game in 2012 are two classic examples. Arizona and Wichita State are both Top 16 in the Pomeroy ratings despite both suffering significant injuries to two different key players this season. And Vanderbilt? They're the slouch here at just 27th in Pomeroy. In the end, Arizona is (in my opinion) the best of the three, and they have more ways to beat you, but it's frustrating that three different teams that I wanted to pick as a sleeper are all stuck against each other in the Round of 64. This all means that...

Picking the bottom half of this region is awfully hard: Both Arizona and Wichita State will give Villanova a really hard fight. But which one will it be? That's the hard part. And don't sleep on an Iowa team that looked like the best team in the Big Ten for a while this season and has one of the best players in the nation in Jarrod Uthoff. Throw in the fact that teams which are jump shot dependent are always dicey in a one-or-done tournament where a single off night ends your season, and I'd lay off Villanova making the Final Four.

UConn will give Kansas a battle: Forget the narratives about previous UConn tourney runs, which are meaningless this season, but UConn is an awfully strong 9 seed. That said, I think the difference in their game against Kansas is that the Jayhawks can shoot the ball well over the top (3rd in the nation with 42.3% three-point shooting) while UConn's defense relies on protecting the paint and is vulnerable to three-point shooters.
Villanova/Iowa is a test of three-point defense: Iowa was 1st in the Big Ten in defensive 3P% and 12th in defensive 3PA/FGA. Past analysis says that the latter stat is much more meaningful, while defensive 3P% is mostly luck. Considering that Villanova lives and dies by the three-pointer more than any other team in the NCAA Tournament, analytics says that Villanova has the edge there.

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