"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Formula says one-and-done but Heart and Gut say Marquette Sweet 16

Due to several requests from my email readers, I will start this post by giving exactly how many lines to fill in for each team on the bracket based purely on the formula. Then I will cover the factors that go into these ratings and then explain why I believe Marquette can emerge from this weekend in the Sweet 16 despite the what my stupid formula says. If a team isn’t listed, it means formula shows a 1st round loss:

East winnersWest winners
Ohio State – 5 lines (national runner-up) - close call 3rd line over Kentucky 105-101 (RATING not score)Duke – 3 lines – 3rd line close call 99-96 over Texas (if Irving returns 5 lines)
George Mason – 1 line – close call only win 89-88 over VillanovaTennessee – 1 line – close call 88-87 over Michigan
West Virginia – 1 lineArizona – 1 line
Kentucky – 2 lines – possible third line 101-105 vs. Ohio StateTexas – 2 lines (possible 3rd vs. Duke if Irving not back)
Xavier – 1 line – close call 91-87 over Marquette, formula stinksCincinnati – 1 line – close call 89-88 over Missouri
Syracuse – 2 lines – close call 2nd line 91-87 over XavierUConn 2 lines – close call 2nd line 91-89 over Cincinnati
Washington – 1 line – close call only win 93-88 over GeorgiaPenn State – 1 line – close call 86-84 over Temple
UNC – 3 lines – in Charlotte might get OSU, but not in JerseySan Diego State – 4 lines (Final Four)

Southwest winnersSoutheast winners
Kansas – 6 lines (national champions)Pitt – 3 lines – close call 3rd line 94-93 over Wisconsin
Illinois – 1 line – close call only win 92-90 over UNLVODU – 1 line – close call only win 91+ to 91 over Butler
Richmond – 1 line – close call 89+ to 89 over Vandy, possible 2nd line 89-92 vs. LouisvilleUtah State – 1 line – close call 93-89 over Kansas State, possible 2nd line over Wisconsin 93-95
Louisville – 2 lines – close call 92-89 over RichmondWisconsin – 2 lines – close call 2nd line 95-93 over Utah State
USC (if beat VCU) – 1 line – close call 86-85 over GeorgetownSt. John’s – 1 line – close call 91-89 over Gonzaga, but could add 2nd line 91-92 vs. BYU
Purdue – 3 lines – close call 3rd line 98-95 over Notre DameBYU – 2 lines – close call 92-91 over St. John’s but could get 3rd line 92-95 vs. Florida
Florida State – 1 line – close call 88-86 over Texas A&MMichigan State – 1 line – close call only win 85-83 over UCLA
Notre Dame – 2 lines – possible 3rd line 95-98 vs. PurdueFlorida – 4 lines, but close calls on 3rd (92-91 over BYU) and 4th (95-93 over Pitt) due to home edge in New Orleans

Breaking the formula down
Here is a rundown of how the formula breaks down, using Marquette and our first two opponents:

How good are they ? (Sagarin)858389
Currently hot or cold?+0+4+2
Experience (Pomeroy)+1+1-1
Home edge opening two games+1+1+0
NBA talent (www.nbadraft.net)0+1+4
Bracket Strength879194

Numbers are rounded, which is why Xavier adds up to a 91.

Here is the rundown, and what my heart says.

Formula saysHeart/Gut says
How good are they? SagarinThe final numbers I pulled from Sagarin last week rated MU as slightly better than Xavier, and almost as good as Syracuse. What more could we ask for than playing two teams we have beaten in the last two years, and with whom we stack up pretty evenly? These are tough but manageable matchups that could give us our first Sweet 16 since 2003.
Currently hot or cold?Xavier has won 9 of their last 10. That included 5 road wins including Georgia, Duquesne and Dayton. The teams that went in hot last year (e.g. Butler) beat the teams with more talent. MU caught Syracuse cold last time, but they closed with 6 straight Big East wins before an OT loss to BE champ UConn. While MU isn’t nearly as hot as either Xavier or Syracuse with three bad losses in their last eight games, they also had fantastic performances in wins at UConn and vs. West Virginia, so they have shown the potential to win both games down the stretch.
Experience (Pomeroy)The average experience on a D1 team is 1.73 years. Xavier has a slight edge at 2.11 to MUs 1.87, with Syracuse at a big disadvantage 1.39 with 16 minutes each from freshman Baye Keita, CJ Fair and Dion Waiters, though a 4th Fab Melo is emerging. Wofford and St. John’s are tops at 2.76 and 2.71 (3.0 is seniors play all minutes, 0.0 is all freshman).Buzz’s ability to bring in JUCOs has MU ready to compete every year. Even our rookie Jae Crowder will use his JUCO POY experience like his football counterpart Cam Newton did. After a couple of mistakes, those Syracuse players will start to remember their loss in Milwaukee!
Home edge opening two gamesMy wish came true as Marquette was not sent out West again, where we have been a “-2” in this category for the past few years. I really do believe western crowds and coaches view the Big East as the epitome of overhyped eastern media, and that they bully teams around. In fact, I believe they are right in some respects in that things like moving picks 25 feet from the basket should be called. I know some will say Xavier should have a huge edge because the game is in Ohio, but Cincinnati is really in Kentucky and the two cities don’t like each other. My brothers in Cleveland always talk about the special bond Cleveland natives feel for Milwaukee, and I believe this venue is a huge break for Marquette over past years.
NBA talent (www.nbadraft.net)Based on www.nbadraft.net, Syracuse has the clear edge with Robert Jackson (6-foot-9, 30th college player to be drafted),and 59th pick (next year) 6-foot-7 Kris Joseph. Xavier gets a slight edge over MU based on Xavier’s 6-foot guard Tu Holloway being slated as one of the last picks in next year’s draft. MU is a year or two away with Jamail Jones listed as a potential pick in two years and Junior Cadougan, Jamil Wilson and Vander Blue all listed as possibles. Look for a deep run, but not this year.I’ve always used www.nbadraft.net for the formula just so I will not be accused of jumping around to favor Marquette. However, if I had used www.draftexpress.com, then Marquette would have a slight edge over Xavier on this category since Jimmy Butler is slated to go in the second round this year. And we all know DJO is really NBA material, even if he isn’t on the board right now.
Final Conclusion1st round exit: Last year the formula said Marquette vs. Washington was the closest matchup of all 32 opening round games, but that the winner would kill New Mexico. It was right, but unfortunately in the featured matchup of future NBA players it was Washington’s Poindexter rather than Marquette’s Lazar Hayward who hit the game winner and then went on to kill New Mexico.Sweet 16! While inconsistent down the stretch, MU rose for the games it had to at UConn and vs. West Virginia on a neutral court. MUs five wins over top 25 teams was matched by very few, and points to this team rising to a high level Friday and Sunday to finally get the elusive Sweet 16 that has alluded use despite being one of 12 teams to make the tourney 6 years in a row. The deeper bench down the stretch will also enable us to play fast until the end.

So there you have it. Reporting from Cleveland, where as I look at all the Ohio State jackets I am very glad we are an #11 seed instead of a #9 seed.

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