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March 20, 2009

How to Talk about How Conferences Are Doing

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:29 am

I meant to do this exact post this week but things have been a trifle lively here at Prospectus HQ and anyway, as you see in the link, the always excellent Dan Hanner beat me to it. The important thing is that the information is out there.

Every year my pet peeve recurs: Conference records in the NCAA tournament are simply added up and presented with no context. Today we find that after the first day the Big East is 2-0, the ACC is 3-1, and the Big Ten is 2-2. But how well are those conferences truly performing, given their seeds?

Each of these three leagues received seven bids, but of course three of the Big East’s bids went to one-seeds. Given that teams seeded on the top line of a region are, as of this moment, 34-0 in first-weekend games over the past five tournaments, we would expect the Big East to win more games than the other two leagues.

Here are the historically-appropriate expectations, given the seeds that each conference’s teams were given:

The Big East should win at least 16 games. (Yes, 16. Mike Tranghese‘s league is set up beautifully for a gaudy record, not least because its only bubble team, Providence, was left out. All seven teams that got in, conversely, were slotted to play lower seeds in the first round.)

The ACC should win 10 or 11.

The Big Ten should win seven, possibly eight.

Praise or damn accordingly. 

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