Friday, March 1, 2013

Top Twenty (3/1)

1 +1Indiana131
2 -1Florida127
3 +1Gonzaga111
4 +1Kansas110
5 +2Wisconsin110
6 -3Michigan110
7 -1Louisville109
8 +1Ohio St.105
9 -1Syracuse103
11 +1Oklahoma St.96.6
12 -1Michigan St.96.2
15 +3Minnesota91.4
16 -1Saint Louis89.8
18 -2Kansas St.88.9
19 NRVirginia87.6
20 NRIowa St.87.6


It was a week of "upsets" in college basketball -- or was it?  The PM correctly predicted likely upsets of Indiana at Minnesota and Duke at Virginia.  The PM also predicted that Michigan at Penn State was likely to be a lot closer than most people expected -- although even the PM didn't think PSU could win!

People focus too much on outcomes and have a hard time objectively assessing team strength.  Going into the Indiana game, Minnesota had lost 8 out of 11 and was being described as a "collapse."  But take a look at those losses (showing the PM rankings of the opponents): 

1/12: @ #2 Indiana (-7)
1/17: vs. #3 Michigan (-8)
1/23: @ NR Northwestern (-7)
1/26: @ #7 Wisconsin (-1)
2/6: @ #11 MSU (-11)
2/10: vs. NR Illinois (-4)
2/17: @ #14 Iowa (-21)
2/20: @ #9 tOSU (-26)

The truth is, when you play teams that are better than you on the road, you're going to have a bad time :-)  To put this stretch in perspective, Duke/Kansas/Syracuse would all be expected to lose 6 of those games.

The only "bad" losses here are to Northwestern (but that was on the road) and to Illinois at home (but that was only by 4 points).  They did lose by 20+ to both Iowa and tOSU, but those teams are both better than Minnesota and were playing at home.  And in the same period they won at home against #14 Iowa and #7 Wisconsin.

Minnesota lost to Indiana by 7 at Indiana.  If we take a rough figure of 3.5 points for the Home Court Advantage, then we'd expect Indiana at Minnesota to be about a toss-up.  (The PM actually had Indiana as about a 2.5 point favorite based on other factors.)  So it really shouldn't be a surprise that Minnesota beat Indiana, and that probably shouldn't affect your assessment of either team that much.

The win over Duke (another not entirely unexpected result) was enough to pull Virginia up into the Top Twenty.  They should be a lock for the Tournament at this point, although they might need a few more solid wins to convince the Committee.

Saturday Picks

Iowa at #1 Indiana:  Indiana by 14
Portland at #2 Gonzaga: Gonzaga by 26
#5 Miami at #3 Duke: Duke by 9
WVU at #6 Kansas:  Kansas by 15
Rutgers at #7 Georgetown: Georgetown by 12
Alabama at #8 Florida: Florida by 15
#10 Louisville at #12 Syracuse:  Syracuse by 2

Most of the Top Ten teams are playing comfortable home games against mediocre opposition.  #5 Miami @ #3 Duke is being touted as the marquee matchup of the day, but it's likely to be a fairly routine Duke victory.  More interesting will be #10 Louisville @ #12 Syracuse, where Louisville will have a good chance (~40%) of pulling the upset.  Other good games outside of the Top Ten include Arizona at UCLA and Clemson at Virginia Tech, both of which are coin flips.

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