Archive for NCAA Basketball Tournament

Sweet Sixteen

Posted in NCAA Basketball with tags , , on March 24, 2009 by nathanelwell


And finally, the first two torturous rounds of the NCAA tournament are complete.  This morning, I couldn’t help but look at all 24 of my brackets with a sigh of disdain.  “Why?” you should ask….  I’ll tell you why.  My red pen has run out of ink!  I think that maybe 2 of my 24 brackets have remained quasi-intact.  My first mistake was choosing Illinois over Western Kentucky in the first round.  My second mistake was choosing Ohio State to beat Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen.  The Buckeyes?  They have enough trouble with Siena.  Does anybody have a coin?  I might as well have flipped it for all my picks.

This year’s tourney hasn’t been devoid of excitement, as it has had its share of upsets.  Three different #12 seeds (Arizona, Western Kentucky, and Wisconsin) made it past the first round by defeating some overrated #5 seeds (Utah, Illinois, and Florida State).  One #13 seed (Cleveland State) was able to pull off the upset against Wake Forest and make it to the second round, before falling to #12 Arizona.  All #1, #2, and #3 seeds have made it to the Sweet Sixteen, as well as two of the four #4 seeds.  So that leaves two teams that are the “oddballs” in the tournament: #12 Arizona, and #5 Purdue.  If we based the tournament strictly by ranking, they would be the only 2 teams that shouldn’t still be in the tournament.  If I were a betting man I would pick Purdue to make it further than Arizona.   And maybe, just maybe, I have Purdue making it to the Final Four in several of my brackets.  But the Big East has shown how dominant of a basketball force they are, with 5 of their teams representing the Sweet Sixteen (Louisville, Connecticut, Syracuse, Villanova, and Pitt).

So what can we expect in the Sweet Sixteen?  Well, I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t quivering with anticipation to see #2 Michigan State against #3 Kansas, #1 Connecticut vs. #5 Purdue, #2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Syracuse, and #2 Duke vs. #3 Villanova.  Honestly, I believe that any of the #1, #2, and #3 seeds could win it all.  In my mind, the only team that has the smallest chance of making it to the Championship is Arizona.  But history has taught us that it is not impossible for a team with a double digit seed to make it to the Final Four (George Mason in 2006).  But that is the mystery in the tournament isn’t it?  You never know who is gonna win.  Its like playing the hand crane game at the local bowling alley.  You never know which cheap stuffed animal you’ll pick.  Ok, well maybe I’m the only one thinking that, but it brought back nostalgic memories of my time at Wheaton Bowl growing up.

So when Thursday arrives, get in your favorite chair with your favorite beverage, and get ready for some serious excitement!


Bracketology – Working the statistics

Posted in 1 with tags , , , on March 17, 2009 by nathanelwell

So its Tuesday, and you’ve surely begun the painstaking task of choosing which teams will be upset, which teams are sure fires, and which teams will make it to the Final Four.  Undoubtedly you have 7 or 8 different brackets that you’ve printed out from CBS Sportsline, Sporting News, ESPN, Yahoo, Facebook, CNNSI, and Fox Sports, and they are pegged to your wall.  When I was in college, I used to create a picture window sized poster with all of the brackets for the tournament, and hung it on my dorm room wall.  It wasn’t exactly symmetrical (i’m no artist), but it gave me a great idea of where I was at in the bracket challenge.  By the end of the tournament there were red x’s all across my poster.

I decided to get serious about Bracketology.  So I spent a week and researched the last 15 years of NCAA tournaments to figure out what the probabilities were of upsets, which upsets consistently happened, and which teams have been relatively hot in the tourney.  Below are some pointers for your own brackets.  Keep these facts in mind before you decide to choose a #16 seed to defeat a #1 seed (it hasn’t ever happened).  But check twice before you have that second round #3 seed defeat a #6 seed.  There have been plenty of those upsets throughout the years.  Enjoy!

1st Round upsets

Since 1994, there have been 12 times where a #13 seed has defeated a #4 seed (it last occurred in 2008 TWICE)

-Since 1994, there has never been a #16 seed that has defeated a #1 seed

-Since 1994, there has only been 2 years where a #12 seed has not upset a #5 seed (2000 and 2007)

-Since 1994, there have been only 3 years where a #11 seed has not upset a #6 seed (97,99, 04)

-2007 was the only year that a #10 seed did not defeat a #7 seed.

-in virtually every year since 94, there has been a #9 seed that upset a #8 seed (if you can call it that)

2nd Round

-In the past 6 years, a #5 seed has defeated a #4 seed

-Since 94, there have only been 2 years where a #6 seed has NOT upset a #3 seed

-In the past 6 years, a #7 seed has defeated a #2 seed

-Since 94, there have been 10 instances where a #10 seed has defeated a #2 seed.

Championship notes:

Since 1979, only 1 time has all for #1 seeds made it to the Final Four (in 2008)

-The National Championship has matched two #1 seeds only 6 times (the last in 2008)

-At least one #1 seed has made it to the Final Four except in 2006 and 1980.

-The lowest seed to make it to the Final Four was #11 George Mason in 2006.

-The lowest seed to win the National Championship was #8 Villanova in 1985.

Hope you enjoyed some fun statistics.  Enjoy the tourney, and may the best bracket win!!

March Madness Cometh!

Posted in NCAA Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by nathanelwell


Its springtime, and that means one thing.  No, it doesn’t mean time to bust out the white pants.  And it doesn’t mean listening to Jim Nance over emotionalize The Masters.  12 inches of snow just fell in North Dakota, so it can’t be the weather!  March Madness baby!!  The tri-fecta baby!  There are too many moments to remember…  Christian Laettner throwing  up a free-throw line jumper for the win, Bryce Drew hitting a 3 at the buzzer against a shell-shocked Ole Miss.  The list goes on and on.

March Madness takes us away from all of the current “sporting controversies”.  Whether its Clemens, Rodriquez, TO, or Michael Phelps, we’ve all seen our disappointments and let downs in the sports world.  But March Madness is a time when sports fans can band together and be distracted by 64 teams widdled down to 1.  And perhaps the best part of the NCAA Tournament?  NO DICK VITALE!!

To give you a bit of NCAA Tourney history, the NCAA Tournament included 64 teams starting back in 1985, and in 2001, it became 65 teams with an “opening round” game to determine who the 64th team would be.  Before 1975, there was only one team allowed in the tournament per conference.  My how times have changed!  This year, there have been so many changes to the #1 ranking, it’ll be hard to know who will win the national title.  Connecticut, Duke, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh (among many other teams) are all possible teams running for the national title.  So before we being the NCAA Tourney, lets whet our appetites with the top 10 NCAA tournament moments (in no particular order).  Yes, there will surely be some left out, but if this doesn’t make you salivate for the tourney, I don’t know what will.

Indiana vs.  Duke – 2002 Sweet Sixteen

In a Rupp Arena shocker, the Hoosiers pull the upset over the Blue Devils, but not without drama.  The now retired Jay Williams challenged the Hoosiers with his 3 pointer after being fouled.  Fast forward to 4:35 to see the most exciting part!

Kansas vs. Memphis – 2008 NCAA Championship

Down by 9 points with 2:12 to go in the game, Kansas put forth a vicious comeback, cutting the lead to 2, before Mario Chalmers hit the shot heard round the world…

Maryland vs. UNC Wilmington – 2003 1st Round

Drew Nicholas, the man with a plan, hits a huge 3 at the buzzer to defeat the UNC Wilmington Seahawks.

Valpo vs. Ole Miss – 1998 1st Round

Drew who?  Drew Bryce became the big man on campus after hitting a 3 pointer at the buzzer.  This is probably one of the most memorable moments in NCAA tournament history!

Kansas vs. Bucknell – 2005 1st round

A #14 seed defeating a #3 seed?  Who would have thought…  fast forward to 1:55 where the video gets exciting!

Iowa vs. Northwestern St. – 2006 1st round

Yet another #14 seed drops a #3 seed.  A thrilling 3 pointer from the corner for the victory. Fast forward to 1:00

Duke vs. Kentucky – 1992 Final Four

Christian Laettner’s shot of the century against Kentucky – one of the most overplayed highlights in ESPN history.  An oldy but a goody.  Duke wins by 1!

NC State vs. Houston – 1983 National Championship

2 words…Lorenzo Charles.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!  Not the only time that Clyde Drexler finished 2nd!  The most classic NCAA tourney moment of all time.  Fast forward to 2:15

Indiana vs. Syracuse – 1987 National Championship

“The shot” by Keith Smart.  Unbelievable!

Illinois vs. Arizona – 2006 Final Four

In my opinion the greatest comeback EVER by a NCAA tourney team.  With 4:00 to go, and a 15 point lead, a victory seemed almost definite.  But Luther Head, Deron Williams, and Dee Brown had other plans.  Hitting a barrage of 3 pointers in the last 4 minutes, the Fighting Illini take the game to over time and go on to defeat ‘Zona by one point.  Watch the whole video – it is priceless!  Notice the nice Last of the Mohicans theme in the background. Gives me shivers down my spine everytime.

And folks, that is it.  Enjoy the tourney this year, and get ready for some great baskeball.