Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

March 14, 2010

The improbables

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ken Pomeroy @ 3:03 am

As Championship Week draws to a close, it’s time to look back on all of the happenings and determine which events were truly unlikely. The beauty of our probabilistic previews is that they allow us to put in perspective the relative level of “shock” that each tourney event had, going beyond seed. For instance, 12th-seeded Miami making it to the ACC semifinals did not make this list since they were significantly better than their seed and had an easier draw than would normally be expected for a last-place team.

Let’s review the ten least likely events from conference tournament action.

10. San Diego State winning Mountain West title (11.9%)
The Aztecs had to beat the one-seed and win on the home floor of the three-seed. Without some late heroics to beat first-round opponent Colorado State by a point, none of that would have happened.

9. Minnesota reaching Big Ten final (11.8%)
In reality, chances were a little higher considering Purdue’s inflated rating at this point. A victory over Ohio State today would win them a title that was given a 3.4 percent chance of happening before the tournament.

8. Kennesaw State advancing to A-Sun semis (10.0%)
This feat required only one win. The Owls took down the top seed, Lipscomb, in what was the biggest first-round upset in any tournament.

7. Georgia Tech advancing to ACC final (9.3%)
The Yellow Jackets have a chance at taking 2010 improbability honors with a victory over Duke today. We had Tech with a 2.1 percent chance of winning the ACC crown.

6. Houston advancing to CUSA finals (8.3%)
As a seven-seed, the Cougars needed a bucket from Aubrey Coleman with five seconds left to beat Memphis in the quarterfinals, then got a break by drawing sixth-seeded Southern Miss in the semifinals to help them get to the title game. Of course, they weren’t done there.

5. Ohio winning MAC title (7.8%)
Despite being seeded ninth, the Bobcats were the fifth-most likely team to win the MAC tournament, and, at least in my ratings, a slight favorite over third-seeded Akron in the title game.

4. Winthrop winning Big South title (6.6%)
The Eagles’ were a three-seed in an eight-team field, but having to beat a dominant league champ (Coastal Carolina) on its home floor is what sent Winthrop’s chances downward. The title is a huge accomplishment for a team that shoots 26.5 percent from beyond the arc.

3. N.C. State reaching ACC semifinals (5.6%)
The Wolfpack’s ride to the semifinals was significantly more unlikely than Miami’s, although their wins didn’t have much suspense. At least not as much suspense as two- or six-point wins normally do.

2. New Mexico State winning WAC title (3.0%)
The Aggies only had to win three games, but they didn’t get any breaks. They had to win on Nevada’s home floor and then take out top-seeded Utah State.

1. Houston winning CUSA title (2.3%)
This isn’t exactly Georgia winning the SEC tournament in 2008, but Tom Penders’ club did have to take the down top-seed and tourney favorite UTEP to earn the title which capped off an improbable four-game run in Tulsa.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress