The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

2009 NCAA Tournament Analysis

Most Likely Sub-10 Seeds to win in the first round: On average over the 24-year history of the 64-team NCAA Tournament, there have been 4.17 teams with a seed of 11-16 in the second round. Just last year, #12 seeds Villanova and Western Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16, while #13’s Siena and San Diego along with #11 Kansas State all moved to the second round. Looking at the tournament this season, who are the most likely teams to pull off a significant upset?

East #12 Wisconsin versus #5 Florida State – It might be hard to bet against ACC Defensive Player of the Year Toney Douglas, but according to the numbers, this game is actually a toss-up. Neither team really has a significant advantage in any regard thus Wisconsin should be able to effectively slow down the pace of the game (they have the 334 fastest pace with 59.9 possessions per 40 minutes. CHANCE OF UPSET: 49.02%

Midwest #12 Arizona versus #5 Utah – Arizona may have been the last team into the field of 65, but it certainly looks like they have a decent chance of upsetting the Mountain West champions out in Miami. Arizona has the #7 offensive efficiency in the nation, according to Ken Pomeroy, and when future lottery picks Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger are both on the court they are a dangerous team. CHANCE OF UPSET: 42.97%

West #11 Utah State versus #6 Marquette – CHANCE OF UPSET: 42.75%
South #11 Temple versus #6 Arizona State – CHANCE OF UPSET: 36.62%
West #13 Mississippi State versus #4 Washington – CHANCE OF UPSET: 33.05%
East #11 Virginia Commonwealth versus #6 UCLA – CHANCE OF UPSET: 31.62%
Midwest #13 Cleveland State versus #4 Wake Forest – CHANCE OF UPSET: 31.15%
Midwest #11 Dayton versus #6 West Virginia – CHANCE OF UPSET: 29.25%
West #12 Northern Iowa versus #5 Purdue – CHANCE OF UPSET: 29.20%
Midwest #14 North Dakota State versus #3 Kansas – CHANCE OF UPSET: 28.06%

The definite locks for the Sweet 16: Last season, for the first time in NCAA Tournament history, all four #1 seeds advanced to the Final 4 (National Semifinals). This season, every single bracket projection agreed upon a consensus top eight teams in the country, and all time on average, only six of the top eight seeds advance to the Sweet 16 every year. In addition, approximately 9.7 of the top 16 seeds advance to the Regional Semifinals, while last season 6 of the top 8 seeds and 11 of the top 16 advanced to the Sweet 16. Which are the most likely top seeds to advance past the first weekend?

Midwest #1 Louisville – The overall #1 seed in the entire tournament is the regular season and tournament champion from the Big East. Louisville averaged a scoring margin of 12.6 throughout the season, a very impressive feat considering they played the #11 strength of schedule according to the RPI, and the #19 according to Ken Pomeroy. The Cardinals still have to be careful however, as five times in the last nine years the Big East tournament champion has failed to make it past the first weekend. CHANCE OF MAKING SWEET SIXTEEN: 67.46%

Continue reading

March 17, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , , | 2 Comments

Championship Week – Final

Here is my final listing of teams that have already punched their ticket to the NCAA tournaments, along with possible at-large selections on today, Selection Sunday. To find my definition of the “lower” and “upper” mid-major conferences, check out my article from last week breaking down the possible teams that could make the tournament:

Big Games to watch on Selection Sunday, March 15:

Lower Mid-Majors (semifinals or championship)
Southland Championship
@ Katy, TX – #6 Texas San Antonio vs. #1 Stephen F. Austin
Game 7: No. 6 Texas San Antonio vs. No. 1 Stephen F. Austin, ESPN2, 1 p.m.

Majors (all games)
ACC Championship
@ Atlanta, GA – #4 Florida State vs. #3 Duke
Game 11: No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 3 Duke, ESPN, 1 p.m.

Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN – #5 Ohio State vs. #3 Purdue
Game 10: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Purdue, 3:30 p.m.

SEC Championship @ Tampa, FL – West #3 Mississippi State vs. East #1 Tennessee
Game 11: W3 Mississippi State vs. E1 Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Continue reading

March 15, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

NCAA Tournament Breakdown

Disclaimer: The rankings used in this report are the same as my most recent report on Dayton’s chances in making the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the mid-major rankings highlighted here in the beginning are a more recent update of the same ranking formula I used in last week’s post. If you have any questions at all regarding my analysis or rankings, please feel free to e-mail me back. All statistics, records and rankings are current as of the games played on Sunday, March 1, 2009.

There were a few things left unsaid in my post last week about the relation between the Dayton Flyers and the rest of the mid-major at-large possibilities. Thus, here is an updated and vamped up rendition of an e-mail reply I sent to my father the day after my Dayton report:

As much as Dayton can control their own destiny with their important games coming up, I did not mention how much luck will factor in to this. For example, if UAB pulls off the upset of Memphis in the C-USA tournament, or a team other than Utah, BYU or San Diego State wins the Mountain West tournament, then Dayton could find themselves outside of the at-large field no matter what. Here is a list of the mid-major conferences in order of likelihood for producing a mid-major at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament:

#1 M-West: 3 Brigham Young (21-6 overall, 10-4), 4 Utah (20-7, 11-3), 9 San Diego State (17-8, 9-5), 11 UNLV (20-8, 8-6) and 12 New Mexico (19-10, 10-4)

Continue reading

March 3, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , , | 1 Comment

Dayton and the NCAA Tournament

Disclaimer: In my information about past mid-major at-large teams, I include their record and RPI ranking in the week before Selection Sunday. As a guide for my readers, here is a list of the college basketball rating Web sites that I use in this article:

Warren Nolan’s RPI Rankings

Jeff Sagarin’s College Basketball Rankings

Ken Pomeroy’s College Basketball Statistics

The Entropy System Sports Ratings

With only four games remaining in the Atlantic-10 schedule for the Dayton Flyers, I thought it was about time that I wrote a detailed description of how they can possibly advance to the NCAA Tournament in just a few weeks here. Dayton currently sits at #30 in the AP rankings, with a 23-4 overall record, 9-3 in conference play. They had been #25 in this ranking last week, before a surprising loss at Saint Louis brought them back to the “receiving extra votes” category. They have been a good team throughout the season thus far, but these losses to Creighton, Massachusetts, Charlotte and now Saint Louis in the first 27 games could be the main reasons why the NCAA Selection Committee chooses not to include Dayton.

Dayton faces the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the Atlantic-10. They schedule includes a road date with Rhode Island on Wednesday night, a visit from Temple on Saturday, before finishing up with a road trip to Xavier next Thursday and the season finale at UD Arena against Duquesne. In order to understand how difficult these last four games will be, here is a look at the current A-10 standings:

Continue reading

February 24, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , , | 1 Comment

The Boots (February 10, 2009)

Boot Up: The Phenomenon of Lamar Odom – I am sorry to bring up this sore subject fellow Cleveland fans, but I was actually planning on writing an article about the 30-year-old Odom days and even weeks before he blew up for 28-points and 17-rebounds in the Lakers victory in Cleveland on Sunday. The main reason for this potential article was that I saw a mention on ESPN recently, that Odom is a free agent and it seems like the Los Angeles Lakers are already thinking about moving on without him. Here are the exact words from Chad Ford:

“Odom will be one of the most coveted free agents on the open market. Phil Jackson likes him, but with Kobe, Bynum and Pau Gasol on the roster, the Lakers don’t need him and might explore trades for him in the coming months. Odom’s penchant for disappearing in big moments (see: 2008 NBA Finals) hasn’t helped his rep in L.A. But he is a great team guy, he can rebound the ball, he can initiate the offense and he doesn’t need the ball to be effective. If he doesn’t stick in L.A., there will be a line of teams waiting to snatch him up.”

Sure, this article is from September and there have been several more ESPN articles about the free agent class of 2009 since that date, it is interesting to ponder the possibilities. Now with Andrew Bynum theoretically out for the rest of the regular season, it seems like the Lakers will probably hold on to Odom for at least the rest of this year, yet Bynum is a big reason why he might not be back next year. In this past off-season, Andrew Bynum signed a massive contract extension with the team that just comes into effect next season. This means that while the Lakers do indeed have over $17 million in expiring contracts, they will still be well over the expected salary cap of about $61 million. Thus the only logical way for the Lakers to re-sign Odom, even though he is their own free agent, is to give him their mid-level-exception, something I would expect Odom to pass down.

Now on to the exact reasons why this article caught my eye, and why, especially after Sunday’s performance, I believe Lamar Odom could still be an All-Star in the NBA. As evidenced on Sunday, Lamar Odom is one of the best scoring threats next to the basket in the NBA. Below this article, I point out how LeBron James shot about 65% from the basket from 2004-2008, and Lamar Odom was pretty close to him last season shooting about 62.2% at that spot on the court. This year his paint numbers down a little bit because of the health of Andrew Bynum (up until recently that is). In addition, in Odom’s career he has never averaged less than 8.46 rebounds and 17.57 points per 48 minutes. In the past five years in Los Angeles, he has averaged about 18.54 points, 5.39 assists, 12.31 rebounds and an efficiency shooting percentage of 1.039 despite never being the premier scoring option on the court behind Bryant, Gasol and recently Bynum.

Continue reading

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Dayton Flyers, The Boots | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlantic-10 Conference Preview

Note: Charlotte lost to Duquesne and Fordham lost to St. Bonaventure in the first night of Atlantic-10 conference play on Wednesday, January 7. Please forgive me for getting this analysis in a day late, but all of my statistics are as of games on Tuesday, January 6. This means that games such as the Dayton .vs. Miami-OH non-conference match-up are included, but not those from Wednesday night.

The Atlantic-10 is one of the top tier Mid-Major conferences in college basketball. The conference has had exactly two teams in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years, and in the 24-year history of the 64-team style tournament, the Atlantic-10 has had 60 teams included.

Looking to the 2008-2009 season, the entire conversation must start with Sean Miller’s Xavier University basketball team. Xavier is clearly one of the top teams in college basketball today, as they finished last season ranked #8 in the Coaches Poll, and were as high as #7 in both the Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll earlier this season. Dayton has been in the top 30 in the Coaches Poll for each of the last six weeks, and at one point last season were #14 according to the Associated Press. The Atlantic-10 has had a lot of historical success as a conference, and these two teams from Ohio are surely the cream of the crop again this season.

Continue reading

January 8, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , , | 2 Comments

Dayton Basketball Game #9

Dayton Flyers (8-1) 59
Creighton Blue Jays
(6-2) 77
Wednesday, December 10
QWEST Center, Omaha, NE

It was bound to happen eventually, and this one was not pretty at all. The Dayton Flyers’ eight game winning streak came to a crashing halt Wednesday night in Omaha, Nebraska, where the preseason favorites for the Missouri Valley manhandled the Flyers by the score of 77 to 59. It was not as close as the final score indicated, as for the first time since the disappointing opener against Wofford, the Flyers lost the rebounding battle, and never were within 12 points in the second half. It was really bad, and in these incredibly tough road games it is important to keep perspective. Not too many teams beat Akron on the road, and certainly not too many beat Creighton in Omaha, and the Flyers learned that on this two-game road swing.

I am still convinced through these first nine games, that the Flyers have the potential to be the second or third best team in the Atlantic 10. I know that is contrary to what I said before the Chicago Invitational, when I guaranteed that if they pulled off the sweep in Chicago I would consider them solid competition for Xavier, but I think the Dayton Flyers  just aren’t that great this year. Remember, they only have senior in Charles Little, and it remains unlikely for Chris Wright to leave for the pros this season as a sophomore. Next year will be the high watermark of recent Flyers history, as Rob Lowery, Mickey Perry, London Warren, Kurt Huelsman, and Marcus Johnson will all be seniors. That is the one year where I can definitely see us being extremely competitive with Xavier, but until then we will take a back seat in the currently ranked 9th best conference in the nation.

Official Creighton recap: Basketball Knocks Dayton From Unbeaten Ranks, 77-59″

Official ESPN recap: “Creighton 77, Dayton 59”

Continue reading

December 11, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #8

Dayton Flyers (8-0) 54
Akron Zips (4-3 versus Division 1 opponents) 50
Saturday, December 4
James A. Rhodes Arena, Akron, OH

It was ugly, almost as ugly as the opener against Wofford, but the Flyers came away maintaining their perfect 8-0 record. A win at Akron has been very tough for anybody in the last five years, as I highlighted in my pre-game notes, and thus despite the score it is a very impressive first true road game of the season. There are so many things I could point about the bad stats on both sides of the court in this one, but most importantly I feel that there is a horrible trend occurring with the starting lineup that I must point out first.

In the last five games, the starting lineup has averaged 52.8 minutes in the first half. Due to foul trouble, typically by London Warren who has averaged only 7.6 minutes per first half in this stretch, the Flyers are hardly ever at full strength in the first 20 minutes of the game. I arrived at this game in Akron about 4 minutes into the first half, and I did not see Warren for the rest of the second half. I was texted friends to see what was going on, but it didn’t take me too long to just realize that he had obviously gotten two quick fouls and was on the bench for the rest of the half. If the Flyers do not improve these marks soon, it will definitely come back to hurt them soon.

Official Akron recap: “Men’s Basketball Gets Clipped By Flyers, 54-50”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 54, Akron 50”

Continue reading

December 4, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | 2 Comments

Dayton Basketball Game #7

Dayton Flyers (7-0) 87
Troy Trojans (3-5) 70
Tuesday, December 2
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

The Dayton Flyers remain on the cusp of being ranked in the top #25 in the nation as they defeated the Troy Trojans of Alabama by the final score of 87-70. It was a fast paced game throughout, and the Flyers put up their most impressive offensive performance in a first half thus far this season en route to the 17 point victory. One of the most surprising aspects of this game, was not the fact that it was the highest paced game and highest scoring game since last January (a streak of 15 games in terms of points, 18 in terms of possessions), but it was the fact that the Flyers did this without much help from Chris Wright. The sophomore out of Trotwood-Madison High School arguably had the worst game of his career, and his 13 minutes played were the least in the 21 of his career, besides the game against Rhode Island when he suffered an ankle injury last January.

This marked the second consecutive offensive outburst for the young Dayton Flyers this season, and this 87-pointer and the 89 mark against Marquette followed our worst shooting night of the year against Auburn. In the first five games this season, the Flyers averaged 63.27 points per 40 minutes, while shooting 43.6% from two-pointers and 30% from threes at an average pace of 66.23 possessions per 40 minutes. In these last two games against Marquette and Troy, they have averaged 88 points while shooting 60.5% from two-pointers and 37.8% from threes at an average pace of 75.6 possesions. There is a distinctly positive correlation between the recent up-tempo offense and the newfound efficiency of the Dayton offense.

Official Dayton recap: “LITTLE PLAYS LARGE AS FLYERS BEAT TROY, 87-70
Official Troy recap: “Trojans Fall to Flyers, 87-70”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 87, Troy 70”

Continue reading

December 3, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | 1 Comment

Dayton Basketball Games 5 and 6

Dayton Flyers (5-0) 60
Auburn Tigers
(3-2) 59
Friday, November 28 (Final in OT)

Dayton Flyers (6-0) 89
#15 Marquette Golden Eagles
(5-1) 75
Saturday, November 29

Dayton wins the Chicago Invitational Challenge
Sears Center, Hoffman Estates, IL

I can’t believe it. In two of the most opposite games in history, the Dayton Flyers improve from the worst three point shooting performance in thirteen years, to beating the fifteenth ranked team in the nation. In both games, however, the Dayton Flyers of 2008-2009 beat “BCS” conference opponents and won an early season tournament with other mid-major schools such as Northen Iowa, Chicago State, and Texas Southern.

Official Auburn recap: “Auburn Basketball Falls Short In Overtime To Dayton, 60-59”
Official ESPN Recap
: “Clang! Dayton tries, misses 24 3-pointers, still beats Auburn”

Official Dayton recap (Marquette): “FLYERS UPSET NO. 15 MARQUETTE 89-75 TO WIN THE 2008 CHICAGO INVITATIONAL”
Official Marquette recap:
“Marquette Falls to Dayton, 89-75”
Official ESPN Recap:
“Dayton’s depth, quickness too much for No. 15 Marquette” Continue reading

November 30, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #4

Dayton Flyers (4-0) 71
Mercer Bears (2-2 vs. Division 1 opponents) 53
Tuesday, November 25
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

This was supposed to be the first trap game of the year for the young Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team: a tough game against an upstart mid-major just two days after an easy victory over Bethune-Cookman. Mercer came into this game out-rebounding their opponents by a margin of 15.5 on the year, and in victories over SEC opponents Alabama and Auburn last week, they had an offensive rebounding advantage of over 20% (46.0 to 24.4% average). Dayton has been getting better over the last few games, but I don’t think that anybody would say that we could easily beat any SEC team right now. The Flyers had looked good enough to be competitive within the framework of the Atlantic-10 this season, but I was doubtful that they would be one of the best mid-majors in the nation. This game cemented the Flyers role as one of the top mid-majors in the nation.

In another high-flying evening at UD Arena, Chris Wright and company soared off to a 48-26 halftime lead in a game they never trailed. If someone had told me before the game that in the end, Mercer would have 13 more free throw attempts, and would force four more turnovers, I would have seriously doubted our ability to win this game. Yet in the end, the tenacious defense that has been a staple in the early going of 2008-2009 came through when necessary and the Flyers prevailed 71-53.

Mercer recap
: “Shooting Woes Prove Costly as Dayton Tops Bears”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 71, Mercer 53” Continue reading

November 27, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #3

Dayton Flyers (3-0) 78
BethuneCookman Wildcats (0-2 vs. Division 1 opponents) 38
Sunday, November 23
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

On Sunday afternoon, Flyers fans witnessed another improving performance by the Dayton men’s basketball team over at UD Arena. After a 3-point win over Wofford started the season, the Flyers have been improving with every minute on the court, and this one was just pure domination. In the school’s biggest victory in seven years, the Flyers defeated a team that could arguably be among the worst in Division 1 by 40 points. Bethune-Cookman returned only four letter men from their 11-21 season last year, and this game showed without a doubt how superior the Flyers are to this team from the MEAC.

In game two against Delaware State, Coach Brian Gregory received tremendous team defensive performances from London Warren, Rob Lowery and Mickey Perry as the team coasted to a 20-point victory. In this one, however, it was a stellar all-around performance that put the Wildcats out early, and everything started with Marcus Johnson. The junior guard/forward out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School scored seven of the first nine Flyers points in the game, and boosted his season efficiency averages during the rest of the game, finishing with a 16 point, 6 rebound, 26 minute performance. The defense, on the other hand, held Bethune-Cookman to 12-50 from the field, forced at least 20 turnovers for the third straight game, and was tremendous in the paint. For the third game in a row as well, the Flyers opponent shot either equal to or worse percentage-wise from two-point field goals than three-point field goals (opponents are shooting 31.3% from twos and 35.1% from threes).

Official Bethune-Cookman Recap: “Dayton Remains Unbeaten With 78-38 Win Over B-CU Sunday in Oho”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 78, Bethune-Cookman 38” Continue reading

November 24, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment