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March 8, 2010
Re-Sizing the Bubble:
Tournaments in Multi-Bid Leagues

by Ken Pomeroy

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The Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Mountain West, and WAC each have varying degrees of multi-bid potential. Let's take a look at the probabilistic breakdown for each conference.

Atlantic-10: March 9, 12-14 (first round on-campus, remainder in Atlantic City)

Seed                 Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
  1  Temple           100     88.8     68.4     37.1
  2  Xavier           100     68.4     47.4     29.8
  3  Richmond         100     78.0     31.4     15.4
  7  Dayton           80.2    29.1     16.6      8.3
  5  Rhode Island     81.5    45.0     14.0      4.2
  4  Saint Louis      100     51.0     13.9      3.6
  6  Charlotte        74.5    19.2      3.8      1.0
  8  St. Bonaventure  50.7     5.7      1.7      0.2
  9  Duquesne         49.3     5.4      1.6      0.2
  10 G. Washington    19.8     2.4      0.6      0.1
  12 Saint Joseph's   18.5     4.0      0.4      0.04
  11 UMass            25.5     2.7      0.2      0.03

This is a log5 table, and it's explained here.

Xavier and Temple are equivalent teams, but the one-seed turns out to be worth something here. Xavier may well draw a dangerous Dayton team in the quarterfinals and then should see surging Richmond if they make it to the semis. Temple on the other hand gets the St. Bonaventure/Duquesne winner first and then the winner of what would be a relatively weak 4/5 game between Saint Louis and Rhode Island.

Conference USA: March 10-13 (all games in Tulsa)

Seed                 Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
  1  UTEP             100     85.9     55.4     34.2
  2  Memphis          100     77.0     47.7     24.8
  3  UAB              100     72.2     35.4     16.0
  4  Marshall         100     53.7     22.5     11.0
  5  Tulsa            93.2    46.8     19.7      9.5
  6  Southern Miss    81.2    26.0      8.3      2.4
  7  Houston          84.5    22.1      8.3      2.3
  8  SMU              63.1    10.3      2.7      0.7
  9  Central Florida  36.9     3.8      0.7      0.1
  11 Tulane           18.8     1.9      0.2      0.02
  10 East Carolina    15.5     0.9      0.1      0.007
  12 Rice              7.8     0.5      0.03     0.002

Well, this is something new. The CUSA tourney is no longer the Memphis Invitational. The site has moved to the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa. This isn't the Golden Hurricane's home venue, so I've only given them half-credit on home-site advantage in these calculations. This one should be a lot of fun. UTEP is riding a 14-game winning streak and is the only team in this field to have wrapped up an at-large bid, but the Miners haven't separated themselves from the rest of the league. The top five seeds all have legitimate title aspirations.

Mountain West: March 10-13 (all games at UNLV)

Seed              Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
  2 BYU            100     96.5     60.5     48.1
  3 UNLV           100     89.9     38.3     26.5
  1 New Mexico     100     95.3     53.4     13.1
  4 San Diego St.  100     86.2     44.0     11.9
  6 Utah           100     10.1      0.9      0.2
  5 Colorado St.   100     13.8      2.2      0.1
  7 TCU            100      3.5      0.3      0.03
  8 Wyoming        66.4     3.7      0.3      0.008
  9 Air Force      33.6     1.0      0.05     0.0006

Before anyone gets too crazy and praises the MWC as the best conference in the West, just look at the bottom three teams here. No power conference has anything resembling a bottom that weak. TCU, Wyoming, and Air Force went a combined 3-33 against the top six teams in the league. San Diego State has the most to play for since its NCAA tournament existence depends on picking up a quality win or two here. New Mexico enters the tourney with a 10-0 record in games decided by five points or less. No team this millennium has finished a season with that many close wins without a loss.

WAC: March 11-13 (all games at Nevada)

Seed               Semis    Final    Champ
  1 Utah St.        90.3     78.9     60.7
  2 Nevada          80.5     65.2     25.9
  4 Louisiana Tech  71.0     13.9      5.7
  3 New Mexico St.  60.1     16.5      3.0
  7 Idaho           19.5     10.0      1.6
  8 Boise St.        9.7      4.3      1.3
  6 San Jose St.    39.9      8.3      1.1
  5 Fresno St.      29.0      2.9      0.7

Since losing at Louisiana Tech on January 4, no team in the nation has dominated its conference like Utah State has dominated the WAC. The Aggies haven't lost since, and of those 14 conference wins, only two have been by fewer than ten points. One of those was an overtime win over Nevada in Reno, and that's a match-up and venue that could repeat itself here in the championship game. There's about a 50/50 chance of that happening according to these percentages. If USU somehow rolls through three games here, they may not be as woefully under-seeded in the Big Dance as I feared a month ago.

Ken Pomeroy is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Ken by clicking here or click here to see Ken's other articles.

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