Who's Winning? Who's Losing?
I thought I'd post my "over-under" analysis while there's still interest prior to the finals. Either way, it won't affect much. I've added an additional data point, that of how many teams in each conference over-achieved, under-achieved or did about as expected. This helps tell us whether or not the aggregate number is attributable to conference performance as a whole or to a single data point (i.e., upset). It also indicates how many teams that conference had in the tourney.
# Under Achievers/# Neutral/# Over Achievers
PAC 12 +17 2 / 2 / 1
MVC +16 1 / 1 / 0
A-10 + 3 3 / 2 / 1
ACC -2 0 / 2 /2
B1G -8 2 / 2 / 3
SEC - 8 1 / 2 / 2
WCC -8 0 / 1 / 1
Big East - 13 1 / 4 / 3
Big 12 - 16 1 / 1 / 3
MWC -26 0 / 2 / 3
For the most part, I ignore the conferences with just a couple of entries, like the Missouri Valley Conference and the WCC. Wichita State and Gonzaga speak for their entire respective conferences' scores.
The pattern of past years remains unaltered, however. Once again, the PAC 12 was the most undervalued conference in the tournament. The A-10 was also a bit undervalued. The Mountain West Conference, the Big 12 and the Big East were big failures. (That would certainly seem to give pause to idea of an east coast bias. Maybe its just a PAC 12 bias, pure and simple.)
The B1G also under delivered, as usual. But, to give them and the Big East their due, at least those two conferences were not as disappointing as in the past. The Big East made the greatest improvement, having consistently been under the Mendoza line of -20 over recent years.
The B1G improved this year, but only because they actually had two over-achievers: Michigan and Minnesota. Michigan is especially interesting. I understand that freshman center McGary only began starting games during the tourney. His contributions are the reason for Michigan's sudden rise to prominence.
So, why were they hiding this guy? He came to Michigan considered one of the top young prospects in the country. Word is he had "under-developed offensive skills." Huh? Looks pretty developed to me. Plus he has a court sense unusual in a big guy. Have you noticed how many assists he gets? He'd have more but his teammates sometimes aren't ready.
He faltered somewhat down the stretch in the Syracuse game. But he has the potential to be the best player in a generation. The best big man since Walton. He's going to be dominant and make everyone around him better, something unusual for a center.
Back to the Numbers
There's been a lot of sports columnist ink devoted to how the teams from the West
were decimated in the tourney, which is true only if you emphasize the dismal showing of top seeds like Gonzaga and New Mexico. (The MWC Conference was just plain terrible, though.) But, as I've
shown, the PAC 12 beat expectations far more than any other
conference. Seeding Oregon and Cal so low was just ridicullous.
So, how do the powers-that-be rectify their consistent failure with regards to the PAC 12? The simplest answer is that they probably don't want to. It speaks volumes when I'm living in California, in the Cal market region in fact, and I can't watch the Bears play on TV because of network telecast choices.
Yea! Santa Clara!
My Broncos pulled off their second post season tournament championship in three years -- sandwiching a winless conference season. They took George Mason on the road in the two-out-of-three championship of the CBI. They beat Vermon (home), Purdue (road) and Wright State (road) to get there. Good for them and congrats to their seniors. It will be a very different team next year.
PAC 12 Refs
Another interesting tidbit: I read that PAC 12 officials called a "rougher" game this season, as compared to previous years. The thinking goes that that's why the PAC 12 did so much better than expected in this year's tourney. But as I have shown in previous columns, the PAC 12 always does better than expected. Lazy sportswriters.