After dissecting my own podcast last week with Conal Byrne, the managing editor of howstuffworks.com, talk about March Madness, I came to the conclusion that I need to try basing my NCAA winner on historical data. Therefore, I did some analysis and came up with the following conclusions.
So instead of telling you who I think will win the NCAA National Championship, I’m going to tell you which 64 teams will not win and why.
First off, from listening to Byrne, he reminded me that no seed lower than an eight has ever won the tournament. That only happened once in 1985, when Villanova won. The only other time an eight seed played in the final was when UCLA lost in 1980, just the second year the NCAA started seeding teams. So for the last 23 years, only one 6 seed has won the Championship and one 6 seed played in the finals. Based on that history, I have eliminated seeds 7-16 in all four regions, therefore eliminating 40 of the 65 teams right off the bat!
Next, I looked at geographic regions. 16 of the last 17 National Champions have come from east of the Mississippi River and only four schools since 1976 that have won came from west of the Mississippi River. I’m basing my theory that better basketball is now played in the eastern portion of the country, where perhaps the recruiting pool is better to choose from in densely populated cities. Therefore, looking at teams seeded 6 th or higher west of the Mighty Mississip…the Ole Miss…the Ole Man…I eliminate Washington State, Oklahoma, USC, Stanford, Texas, Drake, and yes Kansas and UCLA. Whew, I’m glad Memphis just makes the cut…for now. That has now eliminated 48 of 65 teams.
As I get down to just 17 teams, I look further at tournament history and a program’s overall record and I eliminate those schools remaining who have an all-time win-loss percentage in the NCAA tournament of .600 or lower. Why? First, a team must win six games in a row and two, none of the following have won a National Championship, so I’m led to believe that these programs will not have what it takes this year to win the title again this year. I say so long to Xavier (.407), Tennessee (.407), Pitt (.459), Notre Dame (.475), Vandy (.500), and Wisconsin (.586).
That brings me down to 10 teams remaining in the field of 65. This is where things get interesting for the remaining teams in the tournament. Since the NCAA started seeding teams, 23 of the 29 National Champions have won at least 30 games in a season, but no team has won more than 36. Therefore, I say buh-bye to North Carolina and Memphis based on the fact that if they won the championship they would finish with 38 or 39 wins respectively and it just hasn’t happened yet in tournament history.
Now, I’m down to 8 teams. On the flip side of winning, only 10 teams that won the National Championship had more than 6 losses and based on the fact that over the last eight tournaments, the National Champion has averaged 5.1 losses in a season, I must eliminate Louisville, Michigan State, UCONN, and Purdue on the fact they have 8 losses this year, plus Clemson who has 9.
If you’ve been able to follow my formula, you know that I am down to two teams. Based on the fact that this conference has won the most National Championship since 1991 (6), and the winning percentage of this team all-time in NCAA tournament history is the highest at .752, and the fact they are right in line with the average number of losses over the last 8 seasons with 5 this year, I am left to eliminate Georgetown.
OK, so you say big deal, you still have to pick the brackets and how you pick in the first couple of rounds is what makes or breaks your bracket. I’ve got suggestions for that tomorrow.