Monday, March 13, 2017

Complete West Region Analysis

My Picks:
1. Gonzaga over 16. South Dakota State
9. Vanderbilt over 8. Northwestern
5. Notre Dame over 12. Princeton
4. West Virginia over 13. Bucknell
11. Xavier over 6. Maryland
3. Florida State over 14. Florida Gulf Coast
7. Saint Mary's over 10. VCU
2. Arizona over 15. North Dakota

1. Gonzaga over 9. Vanderbilt
4. West Virginia over 5. Notre Dame
3. Florida State over 11. Xavier
7. Saint Mary's over 2. Arizona

1. Gonzaga over 4. West Virginia
3. Florida State over 7. Saint Mary's

1. Gonzaga over 3. Florida State


The West is unbalanced: The 1 and 4 seeds in the West are in the Top 5 of the Pomeroy ratings while the 2 and 3 seeds are 20th and 19th, respectively. This is the best Gonzaga team we've ever seen, and they annihilated a solid WCC by an obscene 0.37 PPP. At the same time, this West Virginia team was more than just "Press Virginia", as they proved to be able to keep up their offensive efficiency in conference play in ways that they weren't the past couple of seasons. If you want to take West Virginia to your Final Four, by all means go with that.

Notre Dame was handed a brutal draw: Princeton is one of the best teams to ever come out of the Ivy League, and will be a handful in the first round, and that's before the Irish can get to Pomeroy #5 in the second round and Pomeroy #1 in the Sweet 16. They've played really good basketball over the last month, but that draw is a nightmare if you want to pick the Irish to go far.

Saint Mary's is a great Sweet 16 sleeper: The thought when Arizona got Allonzo Trier back was that the team would get significantly better. Oddly, they've actually performed slightly worse (statistically) with him than without him. Even if you believe that the computers are slightly underrating Arizona, they are still a borderline Top 20 team at best in most computer ratings, and thus a very weak 2 seed. Throw in a relatively soft 10 seed in VCU and Saint Mary's is perfectly positioned for a Sweet 16 run if they can hit their open shots.

Xavier has righted the ship: It's not surprising that Xavier tailed off after losing Edmond Sumner, but they do seem to have righted the ship over the last week or two. They're not the borderline Top 20 team they were with Sumner, but they're still a Top 40 team in the Pomeroy, the BPI, and Sagarin, and are facing a weak 6 seed in Maryland. Vegas has opened the line with Maryland as 2 point favorites, but I find that it's generally a good bet to take lower seeds in toss-up games. That said, Florida State is a tough 3 seed, and so unless your bracket pool offers large bonuses for picking upsets I wouldn't get too greedy in picking Xavier to go far.

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