Saturday, March 10, 2012

Louisville Beats Cincinnati, Wins The Big East

Louisville 50, Cincinnati 44
If this was a Big Ten game, everybody would be killing the quality of play. The Big East tournament all the way through just had major offensive problems. Part of it is that there are some really good defenses (Louisville, Syracuse, Georgetown, South Florida, etc), but the offenses also just aren't very good. There are only two Big East teams currently rated higher than 35th in Pomeroy adjusted offensive efficiency. In the final 2:30 of this game, Cincy shot 0-for-3 from the field, 0-for-2 at the line and committed a turnover.

Louisville has shot up the bracket with this Big East tournament victory. They only went 10-8 in Big East play, but they are now 13-8 against the RPI Top 100 with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that should be right around 15th. Considering that the Selection Committee has always given a nice boost to teams that win the Big East tournament title, it's hard to see Louisville getting worse than a 4 seed, and they could even slide up to a 3.

Cincinnati's RPI is only 42nd, but that's artificially depressed by a terrible non-conference strength of schedule (Pomeroy rates it 338th toughest). They went 7-5 against the RPI Top 50, with wins over Syracuse, Marquette, Georgetown (twice), Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn and Seton Hall, along with bad losses to Presbyterian, Rutgers and St. John's. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is going to end up right around 25th, and they'll probably end up with a 6 or 7 seed. They could slide up to a 5 seed if the Selection Committee wants to reward them for making the Big East tournament title game and for finishing strong (8-3 in their final 11 games).

#5 Missouri 90, #11 Baylor 75
Missouri went 3-0 against Baylor this season. I think they just match up really well with them. Baylor has a ton of size and length, with a real weakness (and lack of depth) in the backcourt. There's nothing more useless against Missouri than size (just ask Kansas), and there's nothing that you need more against Missouri than backcourt depth. Missouri led by double-digits for most of the second half, and now they'll wait to see if they'll be a 1 or a 2 seed. If North Carolina loses to Florida State then Missouri will be in good shape. If UNC and Ohio State both win tomorrow, though, then it will be difficult for Missouri to climb to the 1 line.

Baylor went 12-6 in the Big 12 and 9-7 against the RPI Top 50. They have wins over Kansas, Texas (twice), Iowa State, St. Mary's, West Virginia, BYU and San Diego State, with no bad losses. Their RPI is 9th, which is right around where their Sagarin ELO_CHESS will be. It's hard to see them not being a 3 seed. I think that's basically a lock.

New Mexico 68, #21 San Diego State 59
Despite being the un-ranked team in this game, New Mexico was a 4.5 point favorite in Vegas. They are the better team, and they showed it here. Their defense is just really, really good. They held Mountain West opponents to 0.90 PPP this season, and held San Diego State to 0.88 PPP here. New Mexico isn't quite as underrated as they were earlier this season, of course. They finished the season 27-6, and 9-4 against the RPI Top 100, with a Sagarin ELO_CHESS that is going to be right around 20th. They should end up a 4 or 5 seed, which is basically about right, in my opinion.

San Diego State won a share of the Mountain West regular season title, and they went 9-6 against the RPI Top 100. They have wins over UNLV, New Mexico, California and Colorado State (twice), along with a bad loss to Air Force. Their RPI is 26th and their Sagarin ELO_CHESS should be in the 20-25 range. They'll probably end up right around a 6 seed, though they could get moved up or down a line depending on geography.


Phil said...

I agree that if UNC and OSU win tomorrow, Mizzou won't get a 1 seed, and that seems fair. But most "experts" seem to think Michigan State would ALSO be ahead of Mizzou if they win tomorrow, and that I don't understand. MSU has two top 50 KenPom noncon wins (FlaSt and Gonzaga) and so does Mizzou (ND and Cal) - but Mizzou also beat Illinois, Old Dominion, and Villanova among KenPom top 100, where MSU has only one other such win, a home victory over Lehigh. Mizzou has 9 top 50 KenPom conference wins, MSU will have 8 if they beat OSU. Mizzou has one bad loss (OklaSt) to arguably none for MSU (though I'd say Northwestern qualifies) ... but MSU has SEVEN losses to Mizzou's four.

Close resumes, and I'm admittedly biased, but I think Mizzou has the slight edge, and I read into your analysis that you agree. So why do you think the "experts" think MSU should jump Mizzou? Is it "name" bias, or perception that Big 10 is a much better conference than the Big 12 (when in reality they are 1 & 2 in KenPom conference ratings), or laziness? Or am I missing something?

Thanks as always for your analysis, it's been particularly great this week.

Jeff said...

Well, I'm not saying Missouri would necessarily be ahead of Michigan State. I think it would be very close.

Michigan State has played a much tougher schedule than Missouri (5th vs 53rd, according to KenPom). Michigan State's two non-conference losses came to North Carolina and Duke, which they'll get a pass on.

In conference play, Missouri went 14-4 while Michigan State went 13-5, which probably cancels out since Michigan State had a harder conference schedule. Losing to Oklahoma State is obviously worse than losing to Northwestern since Northwestern is a bubble team, but the Selection Committee will typically give teams a pass for a bad loss, so I don't think that really matters.

Then while both would (assuming Michigan State wins tomorrow) have won their conference tournament, beating Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State is certainly tougher than beating Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor.

Missouri has one more RPI Top 50 win, while Michigan State has one more RPI Top 100 win. I'd probably give a narrow edge to Missouri for that.

One other thing going against Michigan State is the Branden Dawson injury. Historically, the Selection Committee has basically ignored the existence of injuries (despite the fact that they tell CBS and ESPN that they "keep in close contact with the medical staffs" of all 68 teams). But it's not inconceivable that they can argue against Michigan State because of that injury.

So I don't think being in the better conference is a huge factor. Missouri is being held back a bit by a terrible non-conference SOS. If they had played one or two more decent teams and beaten them? They'd probably be ahead of Michigan State. But instead? It's tough to tell. I'll just have to figure it out if it comes to it...