Power Ranking the 2012 NCAA Tournament Field

Below is my power ranking of the likeliest participants in the 2012 NCAA mens basketball tournament, using the normally reliable Joe Lunardi as my early guide. (I have included all of the teams down to his “Second Four Out”, but there could be conference tournament upsets still to come)

You may use these rankings as a guide next week when you are filling out your tournament sheet.  Here is an explanation of my rankings.

Remember, however, these rankings are only a guide.   The tournament games will not be uniformally decided by strength.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of the games in each round will be “upsets”, in the sense that the lesser team will beat the stronger team (For a simple reason — even lopsided matchups feature teams with at least a 20% chance of winning).  The trick is to figure out where those upsets will fall and where they will not.

NCAA MWS PVOA Combined
1 Kentucky 0.634 0.917 1.551
2 Kansas 0.544 0.922 1.466
3 UNC 0.651 0.793 1.444
4 Ohio St 0.511 0.919 1.431
5 Mich St 0.572 0.841 1.412
6 Syracuse 0.523 0.773 1.296
7 Wisconsin 0.445 0.787 1.232
8 Missouri 0.443 0.745 1.188
9 N Mexico 0.439 0.713 1.152
10 Baylor 0.452 0.661 1.113
11 California 0.418 0.689 1.108
12 Duke 0.441 0.666 1.107
13 Florida 0.425 0.662 1.087
14 Indiana 0.454 0.629 1.083
15 Witch St 0.359 0.717 1.076
16 St Marys 0.408 0.662 1.069
17 Gtown 0.401 0.631 1.031
18 Memp 0.394 0.629 1.024
19 Gonzaga 0.437 0.568 1.005
20 UNLV 0.405 0.597 1.002
21 Louisville 0.382 0.602 0.984
22 Marq 0.345 0.599 0.944
23 St Louis 0.304 0.639 0.944
24 Virginia 0.339 0.591 0.931
25 Belmont 0.311 0.552 0.863
26 Harvard 0.337 0.506 0.843
27 Kan St 0.313 0.526 0.839
28 Vanderbilt 0.323 0.514 0.837
29 Alabama 0.308 0.512 0.819
30 BYU 0.347 0.471 0.818
31 Murr St 0.289 0.524 0.814
32 Texas 0.328 0.476 0.804
33 Iowa St 0.305 0.546 0.851
34 Arizona 0.303 0.479 0.782
35 Iona 0.301 0.466 0.767
36 Creighton 0.316 0.449 0.765
37 Michigan 0.325 0.441 0.766
38 Davidson 0.282 0.463 0.745
39 SD State 0.243 0.483 0.726
40 Oregon 0.265 0.454 0.719
41 Uconn 0.316 0.392 0.708
42 W VA 0.265 0.435 0.699
43 St Josephs 0.301 0.387 0.688
44 No Dame 0.319 0.421 0.675
45 Lng Bch St 0.265 0.399 0.664
46 Temple 0.267 0.382 0.649
47 Drexel 0.189 0.428 0.617
48 Miss St 0.259 0.353 0.612
49 NC State 0.299 0.312 0.611
50 Washing 0.211 0.381 0.592
51 Purdue 0.201 0.383 0.584
52 Xavier 0.192 0.382 0.574
53 SanD State 0.242 0.323 0.565
54 Cinn 0.184 0.379 0.564
55 Vcomm 0.196 0.362 0.558
56 Lehigh 0.177 0.359 0.536
57 Akron 0.209 0.321 0.531
58 Montana 0.194 0.331 0.525
59 Col St 0.198 0.326 0.524
60 Seton Hall 0.206 0.301 0.507
61 Tennessee 0.194 0.311 0.505
62 UNC Ash 0.199 0.285 0.484
63 Sth Mssp 0.148 0.327 0.475
64 Nevada 0.159 0.313 0.473
65 Nwestern 0.143 0.276 0.419
66 Miami 0.172 0.227 0.399
67 S Flor 0.145 0.189 0.334
68 Long Islnd 0.128 0.134 0.262
69 Loy Md 0.114 0.142 0.256
70 Detroit 0.021 0.024 0.045
71 W Kent -0.068 -0.053 -0.121

Initial Observations about Overvalued Teams

Remember, this post went up well before the tournament selections, so there are several teams on here who will not make the field (I also excluded some of the sure #16 seeds).  At the time of writing, it appears some of the Big Ten teams might be overvalued, and might be ripe for upset picks.  The Michigan Wolverines are ranked #8 in the country, but by my comparative strength measurements they are well down the list.  Northwestern and Purdue also look like phonies.

On the other hand, it appears the Pac 12 is getting shortchanged.  California is stronger than they have been given credit for, and there are other teams out there like Oregon and Arizona who deserve bids ahead of the lesser Big Ten teams.

Another team that is likely to be overseeded is the Marquette Golden Eagles.  Marquette is a strong team, but not nearly as comparatively strong as Joe Lunardi’s forecasted 2 seed would suggest.  Indeed, many of the Big East teams appear as though they may be overvalued as well.  Syracuse is a perennial underachiever.  If you are targeting a top seed to fall, you could do a lot worse than Syracuse.

Favorites

If you will notice, the three power rankings produce 3 separate favorites.  If you go by Marginal Win Score, the favorite is North Carolina.  If you go by PVOA, the favorite is Kansas.  If you combine the two, the favorite is Kentucky.  There is a simple explanation.  MWS is a more holistic ranking.  It rewards teams who do the little things that create wins, whereas PVOA concentrates on rewarding scoring efficiency.

North Carolina is not a great scoring team, but they are a tremendous rebounding and possessionary team.  Ohio State and Kansas are great scoring and scoring defense teams, but not in UNC’s league when it comes to the “Hustle Board”.  And Kentucky is strong in both areas, but it is not the strongest in either.  Its dealer’s choice this tournament season.

I will have more analysis as we get into the weekend.

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