The NCAA Final 2 – How They got Here…
It’s been a long road to the NCAA Final 2 and no one knows that better than the teams themselves. I have to say to my own credit that things started off very well with my choices. In the Round of 64, I got 27 correct and 5 wrong. In the East I did well until NC State beat Villanova and Michigan State beat out Virginia!! In the South, things went much better until Duke beat Utah but I had Gonzaga all the way so when Duke beat them, that bracket was busted!! Now the West was a different story – I had Wisconsin all the way but I did not see them beating Kentucky. In the Midwest, I had Kansas taking Wichita State and I did not see Notre Dame going on. But guess that is the way it goes when you have 64 teams – anything is possible!!
In the Midwest…
Well who would have thought Kentucky would go to the basket 5 times and come up empty!! Not sure anyone saw that coming, even though there were some bad referee calls the Badgers just couldn’t seem to be stopped. On paper Kentucky seemed to be the better team. They won handily in rounds 1 and 2 and round 3 against West Virginia was a blowout. However, they just barely won against Notre Dame. Again on paper, Kentucky looked like a much better team but it turned out to be a 2 point game. Maybe Kentucky was just tired. For whatever the reason, they lost.
In the East…
Villanova was favored to win but they lost out in the second round. Not sure too many people saw this one coming but the bottom line was NC State just outplayed Villanova, number 1 seed or not! Villanova missed shot after shot, while NC State was finding open spots where there were none. Virginia, who is one of the best 3 teams in the United States, was just at the top of their game and lost out to Michigan State. It seems like for everything Virginia did wrong, Michigan State did it right.
IN THE WEST…
While in the Western bracket we had picked Wisconsin to go all the way to the Final 4, they have not won a championship since 1941!! However, they had statistics on their side. More teams from the Big 10 have won than the PAC12 by almost double. It has been 18 years since a team from the Western region has won a championship and Wisconsin has not won since 1941 – what an upset that would be.
IN THE SOUTH…
I saw Georgetown taking down Duke. However, Georgetown lost out to Utah. Georgetown started out with a bang but fizzled. They went from jubilation of seizing the lead to the sting of losing it all in a “one and done” tournament. Once Utah pulled ahead, Georgetown would never recover. I also saw Gonzaga going all the way but just like Duke took down Utah, they would take Gonzaga as well. Gonzaga started well, taking an early lead but Duke responded with 9 straight points and never trailed again. Gonzaga have been to 17 consecutive NCAA tournaments but never made it to the Final Four. Duke has won 4 championships and has been in the Final Four 16 times and won the championship in 2010. They are the 4th “winningest” college team of all time. Seems like I should have picked Duke!!
So here we are – down to the Final Two – Duke and Wisconsin. On paper, they are pretty evenly matched for this year but if you look at history. First the Western Region hasn’t won a championship since 1997 (Arizona) and Wisconsin has not won a championship since 1941. Duke has won 4 championships, the last one in 2010. Additionally, the last time these two teams faced off, Duke beat Wisconsin 80 – 70! According to Forbes – Wisconsin will take the win because they won’t be intimidated by Duke, Wisconsin has a better center, and they beat Kentucky. However, they also take the opposing view that Duke will win!! Talk about hedging your bets!!! However, no one can deny that Duke has an excellent defense, augmented by a good offense. And last but not least it seems that even the referees favor Duke. This being said, if you look at the free throw percentage, Duke has a 69.6% compared to Wisconsin at 76.6% so they do seem to have the edge, at least in this category. However, unlike Forbes we are going to settle on Duke. Not because we want them to win, but statistically speaking they have a much better shot (no pun intended) at the win!! Remember in earlier posts I said – use your head, not your heart to pick the winners. My head says Duke but my heart would really like to see the underdog, Wisconsin win. I’m sure the viewers are just as divided as we are.
Speaking of viewers, according to the NCAA total viewers are up 2% over last year, averaging 9.9 million total viewers. This is before the final game!! Those viewers translate into roughly $900 million in revenue. This revenue comes from television rights, advertising, ticket sales, and licensed memorabilia. It will be interesting to see whose memorabilia sells off the shelf first. Regardless of who wins, it’s been an exciting road to the Final 2 and we’ve enjoyed watching the games. Good luck to both teams and we’ll see who comes out on top tomorrow.
Screamin Designs is always looking for new ways to bring products and information to our customers. We hope you have enjoyed this series and we will be starting a new on woodworking next week.
2015 Selection Sunday Teams
In our last post “March Madness – The Tournament Begins” we showed a comparison of top 8 teams for 2013 – 2015. The good news is there are no upsets here!! No surprise that Kentucky remained number 1 and most of the remaining were regional winners. It seems the inconsistencies come in the “lower” ranked teams.
In 2014 and 2013, we reviewed the data for all the teams to see where some of the inconsistencies were coming from. We wanted to see if this was an anomaly or the “norm”. Well after looking at the 2015 data, it seems like we have some of the same issues. As usual there is only an issue with the “at large” selections.
Of the 36 At Large teams:
- 9 were runner’s up in their conferences
- 80.6% came from 6 conferences:
Looking at all the “at large” teams selected from the 6 conferences above, there were 6 teams from other conferences that had as good as or better RPI’s than from what I will call the “Big 6”. Teams selected are highlighted in green; while teams not selected are highlighted in red. These teams also had good poll rankings from the Associated Press and the Coaches polls but they were not selected.
Of the Big 6, two of the conferences had 6 teams each selected, the Big 12 and the Big 10 for at large selection. Texas and Oklahoma State both lost in the quarter finals. Oklahoma State had a lower RPI than Old Dominion but Old Dominion was not selected. Old Dominion also had a higher poll rank than Oklahoma State. So why did Oklahoma State get selected?
For those teams that made it through to the semi-finals; Ohio State was chosen over Temple. Purdue was chosen over Tulsa and Indiana was chosen over Richmond. In all these cases, the teams not chosen had better rankings, better RPIs, and made it to the same rounds before losing out. So (at least on the surface) it seems that the central theme here is the conference the teams are in.
Temple was ranked 32nd, with a RPI of .5889; while Georgia was ranked 37th with a RPI of .5806. So was Georgia selected because it was in the Southeastern conference? These same questions can be asked for Colorado State, Tulsa, Old Dominion, Iona, and Richmond. Why do some conferences only get to send the regional winners, while other conferences have more than 10% of the total at large teams selected?
If some of these teams were not included, would it give other conferences a chance to be included? There are 4 teams: Green Bay, Murray State, Illinois State, and Central Michigan that were runners up in their conferences but were not selected. While they did have lower RPI’s than other teams selected, it does not appear that a team’s RPI is the basis of selection.
Not included in the 36 At Large: (All had RPI’s higher than other At Large selections)
- Colorado State: (Mountain West)
- Had a higher RPI than Boise St. (.5935 vs .5777) (which was included)
- Ranked 28th by AP and Coaches as of 3/14; Boise St. was ranked 42nd
- Lost in the semi-finals – same as Boise St.
- Temple: (AAC Tournament)
- Had a higher RPI than Cincinnati (.4889 vs .5804) (which was included)
- Ranked 32nd by AP and Coaches as of 3/14; Cincinnati was ranked 38th
- Went to the semi-finals; Cincinnati lost in quarter-finals
- Old Dominion: (Conference USA Tournament)
- Has a RPI of .5741
- Ranked 46nd by AP and Coaches as of 3/14
- Lost in quarter-finals; same as many other at large teams
- Iona: (Metro Atlantic Tournament)
- Has a RPI of .5673
- Ranked 50th by AP and Coaches as of 3/14
- Runner-up; same as 9 other at large teams
So what does this mean…
If you look at the statistics from Las Vegas, even money says the Kentucky Wildcats will win the tournament.
Ed Salmons, the SuperBook’s head college basketball oddsmaker and a 20-plus-year Las Vegas veteran, said Kentucky is the first team he remembers entering the tournament at even money in at least 20 years. Kentucky is looking to become the first team to finish the season undefeated since the Indiana Hoosiers ran the table in 1975-76 under coach Bob Knight.
These same odd makers give Eastern Washington and Valparaiso the biggest listed odds of 1000 to 1. Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology was the first shop to post point spreads for the opening NCAA tournament games Sunday. No. 2-seeded Arizona opened as the biggest favorite on the board. The Wildcats are 23-point favorites over Texas Southern. Villanova is a 22-point favorite over Lafayette.
That will change, however, after Kentucky’s opponent is decided. The Wildcats will be massive favorites over the winner of Manhattan-Hampton in the first round. Duke was a 47-point favorite over Florida A&M in a 1999 first-round game, the largest NCAA tournament point spread in the past 20 years.
Ten teams — Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Iowa State, Arizona, Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wisconsin — opened as double-digit favorites, not including the matchups awaiting winners from the First Four games. Double-digit favorites are 64-7 straight-up in the first round and 81-9 straight-up overall in the past six NCAA tournaments, according to Spreadapedia.com.
Ohio State, the 10th seed in the West Region, is the only team to open as a favorite against a lower-seeded team. But that could change. The Buckeyes opened as 1-point favorites at CG Technology. No. 11 seed Texas is a pick-‘em against No. 6 Butler. The Purdue-Cincinnati matchup also opened at pick-‘em. This information was taken from espn.go.com as they seem to have an inside track.
The same philosophy applies – lead with your head not your heart when picking your brackets. However, keep in mind this is a single elimination tournament. Some dark horse contenders could be Gonzaga, North Carolina, or Iowa State. While Kentucky is the odds on favorite, anything can happen.
Good luck and we hope you have enjoyed our series. Here at Screamin Designs we are dedicated to the sports enthusiasts and hope you’ll come back to see us soon. Remember even if you can’t be in the tournament, you can have your own “3 Pointer” custom made from Screamin Designs.
Finally – the NCAA tournament begins…
Once the teams have finished the season, played their tournaments, selected, and seeded – it’s time to “play ball” and the official NCAA tournament begins. It will take 6 rounds from the First Four to the Final Four to get to the National Championship and it will take 3 weeks from the first game. Higher seeded teams play lower seeded teams. Higher seeded teams get their ranking from wins, RPIs, polls, and interpretation of the data (or so it seems). Generally the higher seeded teams should advance, while the lower ranked teams fall out. However, this is not always the way. Remember, most of the lower ranked teams are “at large” teams so their stats are not as good as the regional winners. For each round, the number of teams advancing is cut in half, until we are left with just one.
Again we are going to look back at the data from 2013 and 2014 to see if it will tell us anything about the 2015 tournament. In 2013 and 2014:
- More at large teams overall progressed than the regional winners.
- However, when it came down to the final game, in 2013 the tournament winner was a regional winner.
- In 2014, the tournament winner was an “at large” team.
- In 2013 the winner was from the Midwest region;
- While in 2014 the winner came from the East!
- Neither the South nor the West has brought home the “gold”. So does this mean it’s their turn this year or will they be “0 and 3”?
Another fact that was clear when looking at the data: (Teams with seeds greater than 8 who advanced past the first round).
Fewer than 14.7% and 11.8% teams, respectively advanced past the first couple of rounds and none won the tournament.
Who takes home the tournament award in 2015…
So who has the best chance this year? Well it depends on who you ask. Looking at the chart below it is easy to see where the issues will start even before Selection Sunday. We’ll be updating the 2015 information as soon as the announcements are made. Don’t forget to fill out your own bracket and see if you are better than the “professionals”.
So if you are planning on completing a bracket here are a few tips:
- Use your head, not your heart. If your favorite team is not seeded above 9, chances of them winning the tournament are pretty low,
- The South and West do not seem to be in it for the long haul either,
- “At Large” teams have just as good a chance of winning as the “Winners”,
- No matter the statistics, there can always be a “dark horse” that comes from behind!!!
Stay tuned for our next installment with our predictions. Screamin Designs is just as interested in March Madness as you are so we’ll be playing along as well.
So what does this mean for 2015…
The first thirty-one teams are easy – these are the conference champions. The thirty-second team is the winner of the Ivy League conference. This is the regular season winner as this conference does not have a championship tournament. These teams know as soon as the season ends they will be included in the tournament.
Now comes the harder part – the selection of the “at large” teams. Any number of teams can be selected at large from each conference. Generally these teams come from the top conferences such as the ACC, The American, Atlantic-10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mountain West, Pac-12, and SEC. In the case of 2014 10 of these teams were runners-up in their respective conferences. Many are also borderline to gaining a tournament slot, close but not winners. These teams are referred to as being “on the bubble”.
What is surprising is a number of teams essentially know that they are assured of an at-large berth no matter their performance in their conference tournament. Most teams in the Top 25 in the national polls or RPI are essentially guaranteed at-large berths even if they do not win their respective conference tournaments. However, some teams that have been ranked heading into Selection Sunday, but didn’t win their conference tournament, have been left out (or “snubbed”) by the selection committee despite what the polls say. The Missouri Valley Conference has received the most snubs (five RPI top 40 teams excluded), with Missouri State left out each of the last nine years, despite RPI’s of 21, 34, and 36). Another famous snub occurred in 2004, when Utah State completed the regular season with a record of 25-2 but was snubbed after losing in their conference tournament, even though they were ranked in the polls. This seems to be where the “personal” feelings come into play, otherwise why would these teams have been excluded?
No this isn’t seeds you put in the ground (for anyone without a sense of humor that was a joke)!! It’s how the teams are ranked within their respective conferences. First teams are given an overall ranking, and then they are ranked within their regions. However, winning the conference championships does not necessarily guarantee a “good” seed for the tournament
Once the announcements are made and the seeds assigned, this is when the aggravation and irritation from fans start. The analysts and sports casters will spend hours arguing about who received an invitation, who didn’t, and why they did or didn’t. Maybe it’s the controversy that helps to draw the fans, making March Madness rival the Super Bowl!!
While not as big a draw as the Super Bowl of 114.4 million viewers for 2015. If you believe the analysts, the Final Four is going to catch up with the Super Bowl in both advertisement revenue and viewers.
The way the analyst’s calculate this seems a little “different”. Outright it seems the number of viewers for the Super Bowl is larger than March Madness. Super Bowl 2014 had 167 million viewers; while the 2013 championship NCAA had an audience of 27.1 million. So you ask, how can the analyst’s get March Madness is larger? According to an article by Jason Notte March Madness is the New Super Bowl.
This theory is based more on revenue than outright viewers. In 2013, the NCAA men’s tournament’s Final Four matchups and Final brought in $198.5 million in advertising revenue for broadcast partners. That’s a March Madness record and a big part of the reason those broadcasters paid $10 billion for the rights to broadcast the tournament through 2024, which is a huge haul even compared with the $28 million Fox, CBS and NBC paid to air NFL games, the playoffs and rotating Super Bowls through 2022.
The NCAA’s ad haul was still well shy of the $292 million last year’s Super Bowl brought in for NBC — with the gap in ad revenue between the Super Bowl and Final Four widening to $96.5 million from $50 million in 2009 — but that single game is no longer the measuring stick. For the entire 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, CBS and Turner generated $1.15 billion in ad revenue from NCAA sponsors such as General Motors, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Capital One, Nissan and Lowes. Other heavy hitters such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and SAB Miller, which can’t partner with the NCAA because of its alcohol policy, contributed nearly $60 million on their own. That $1.15 billion total is more than the $1.1 million spent on the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl combined in 2013, which makes it the second-straight year that March Madness advertisement money surpassed football’s playoff total.
The author has a good point – that looking at just one game, Super Bowl versus the NCAA Final Game does not make sense when looking at the entire picture. Those two games are just the result of a series. I wonder if Henry Porter could ever have imagined what his 8 team tournament would become. Based on the projections, this year’s tournament will be bigger and bring in more revenue than last years. Guess we will have to wait for the numbers.
Stay tuned for Part 5…
NCAA Team’s Selection
Everyone knows how the brackets work once the teams are chosen. It’s the “choosing” that seems to cause the most trouble. It should be a fairly straight forward process but it’s not. It should be numerically based but it’s not. While there seems to be a “system” or a factual base it also relies on human input. It’s this “human” part that seems to cause so much disagreement about the teams chosen. Obviously, the winners of their respective conferences should go on to the championship playoffs with an automatic bid. What is not so obvious is the selection of the “at large” teams.
I can assure you that even after all the explanations, formulas, and discussions much of the final seeding and selections of “at large” teams will seem arbitrary and confusing at best. The formula for selecting the 68 teams is to say the least complicated. In 1985, the total number of teams changed from 53 to 64, and then in 2011 the number was changed to 68. This last change was an effort to include the lower ranked teams. Thirty-two of the teams are included automatically based on their respective conference championships. The remaining thirty-six slots are called “at-large” bids and are determined by the NCAA Selection using a very complicated process.
In 2014, 10 of the thirty-six at large teams came from the runner’s up from the conference championships. This left only twenty-six possible slots for the remaining teams. This is where the selection committee uses it’s “criteria”.
According to the NCAA the selection committee uses several criteria for choosing the “at large” teams. The criterion includes:
- Ranking in the national polls
- Conference record
- Road record
- Wins versus ranked opponents
- The way a team finishes its regular season
- Rating Percentage Index (RPI). (We’ll talk about this later!!)
Unfortunately, it does not seem like the committee sticks to these criteria. For instance, when looking at the “national polls”, which one do they use? There is the Associated Press (AP), The Coaches, and CBS Sports polls, just to name a few. And like everyone else, each one puts their own spin on the selection. Looking at the 2014 data, Kansas is ranked 3rd based on its RPI, 10th by the AP and Coaches polls and was seeded 7th in the official seeding list for the tournament. As you can see from the table below, this is just one of the many discrepancies. It seems safe to say most of the discrepancies between the RPI, AP, and Coaches has to do with “personal” feelings. The rational is “the numbers say one thing, but the experts put their own spin based on their feelings about how the team is really doing”. This puts a little too much subjectivity into the rankings. If the RPI is determined by:
- the team’s winning percentage against Division 1 teams (25%),
- strength of schedule (50%),
- the team’s opponents strength of schedule (25%).
Then how can there be so much discrepancy in the rankings? Then in 2004, the formula was changed again to give more weight to teams that win on the road! Next they will be taking the weather into account for its effect on the wins!!
Stay tuned for Part 3 – a look back at 2014.
Screamin Designs – A look at March Madness by a rookie… If you have ever wondered how teams go from First to the Final Four in March Madness – here is a little help to get through the maze. Here at Screamin Designs, we are ready for March Madness, just like the rest of the country. So we thought in the spirit of spring we would try to add a little information and a little science to help you move through the “madness”. This series is not about the “teams” but the process and how it all works or doesn’t as the case may be. So stay tuned, stay sane and have a good time!!
At Screamin Designs we are committed to our sports enthusiasts! With March Madness close at hand we thought this would be a great opportunity to give you a little history, information and help on how the teams get selected for the First Four to the Final Four. This will be a 5 part series, so be sure to look for each installment. The average person thinks that spring means warmer weather, spring break, and the end of winter. This is especially true for those who spend their winter’s shoveling snow. For basketball lovers none of these are relevant. This portion of the population is anxiously awaiting the start of March Madness!! It’s time for final games in the regular season, polls, selections, seeds, and filling out brackets. For basketball enthusiasts it’s time to do their own polls, selections, seeds and joining basketball pools on who correctly chooses the “right” final four and champion! It is also a time of joy and glee, with angst and irritation. So read on and you might find a few tips to help. At least you’ll be better armed with knowledge of how it all works. Good luck with choosing the winner. But in order to go forward, let’s look back at how it all started.
What began as an annual high school boys’ basketball tournament has morphed into a college tournament viewed by millions. It began with just a few teams from Illinois in 1908 to more than 900 schools by the late 1930’s. The Sweet Sixteen was played at the University of Illinois’ Huff Gymnasium to sold out crowds. The “fever” started in Illinois, long before “madness” gripped the country. The phrase “March Madness” was coined by Henry V. Porter, assistant executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association. He was so impressed by the phenomenon; he wrote an essay to commemorate it. Entitled “March Madness,” it first appeared in the Illinois Interscholastic, the IHSA’s magazine, in 1939. Beginning in 1973, the IHSA began using the term officially in its programs and on its merchandise. In 1977, the organization enlisted veteran Chicago sportswriter and Big Ten basketball referee Jim Enright to write the official history of the boys’ basketball tournament. The result was March Madness: The Story of High School Basketball in Illinois. However, the NCAA credited Bob Walsh, of the Seattle Organizing Committee, with the first celebration in 1984. But since the first championship was played in 1939, and the name “March Madness” became officially used in 1973, it seems the NCAA might be a little “late to the party”!! Regardless, no matter who named it, it has grown to an astounding frenzy by fans everywhere. It starts with the end of the season numbers and moves to a complicated process of the team’s selection. The televising of the games is one of the reasons for its phenomenal growth. Once the games began to be televised in 1969, it was no longer just a “local” event. Initially, it was only partially shown on television but since 2011, all the games are shown nationwide and internationally. This is another reason for the tremendous growth in revenue, which registers in the billions!! Yes, I said billions, not millions!! Even the team’s selection is shown on Selection Sunday!
Stay tuned for Part 2 – Team Selection…
If you look through our wide variety of wood carved products, you’ll notice that we have many sports-themed pieces. This is no coincidence – here at Screamin’ Designs we are huge sports fans. In fact, we’re absolutely stoked about one of the biggest athletic events of the year that’s right around the corner – March Madness! There’s nothing quite like perusing over the NCAA March Madness bracketology form, trying to figure out who is going to get in, to who will advance.
If you’re not familiar with NCAA March Madness bracketology, let us break it down for you. The tournament contains 64 teams that are divided into four sections. The tournament narrows the playing field down to four teams, which go on to the Final Four and compete to take home the NCAA college basketball championship.
So, how exactly does a school get invited to take part in the tournament? There are five major conferences that send their top teams to the tournament every year, and several midmajor schools make it as well.
There tend to be a group of mainstays that make it to the tournament every year. These include schools such as Michigan State and UCLA. This year some of the favorites to win the tournament include Duke, whose freshman phenom Jahil Okafor is predicted to go first or second in the NBA draft next year. Kentucky has also become a perennial powerhouse under the leadership of John Calipari. This year’s team is one of Kentucky’s strongest teams in recent memory – not an easy feat to accomplish. In fact, they are undefeated at the moment!
As you can see, we are quite excited about our NCAA March Madness bracketology. For information about our unique sports-related carved items or the Hope for the Warriors campaign, contact us at Screamin’ Designs.