For those who have been following along, we have been analyzing the past 15 years of March Madness upsets to try to figure out who are the best candidates to bust brackets. Catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here. In quick recap we saw some common patterns across histories college basketball underdogs, particularly that most of these teams excelled in at least one of the following areas: 2 point percentage, 3 point percentage, defensive turnover percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, or has an elite adjusted defensive efficiency (points per possession allowed adjusted for competition). Why did we go through all of that work? To better select candidates for 2017’s tournament, which is quickly approaching.
Lets get right to it, with my March Madness analysis.
|Lower Seed||Higher Seed||Seed||AdjEM Diff||2Pt%||3Pt%||Def TO%||Off Reb%||AdjDefEff||Synopsis||Money Line|
|New Mexico St.||Baylor||14-3||17.79||54.5||33.4||19.2||36||102.7||candidate||616|
|Florida Gulf Coast||Florida St.||14-3||17.73||55.5||34||17.3||34.5||104.5||candidate||559|
|East Tennessee State||Florida||13-4||14.9||55.4||38.2||22||30||96.5||candidate||490|
|Kansas St./Wake Forest||Cincinnati||11-6|
This years crop of 11-15 seeds are particularly interesting to me. Lets break it down. First off the 15 seeds, I am not in love with any of these potential upsets this year, all have below average defenses and don’t standout in any offensive categories. I will be skipping betting these match-ups this year.
Lets talk 11-6 matchups. We won’t know two of these until the play-in games. I like both USC and Wake Forest to take care of business and secure spots in the tourney, but I skipped my analysis for these games as they really aren’t upsets, they are larger named schools who see similar quality of opponents all year long.
The classic 12-5 is the first place people typically look for “upsets”. My usual quarrels with the 11-6 not being upsets have crept into play this year into the 12-5 match-ups. Particularly Middle Tennessee State, it is a considered a pick’em by Vegas. The other 3 match-ups are your more traditional 12-5’s, where we typically see an upset 25% of the time. That being said, I like all of the 12’s this year as potential upset candidates. If Princeton can string together a run on three’s they have a shot, the Ivy league is well represented in our upset list. UNC Wilmington shoots the ball extremely well, which they will need to upset Virginia, who is arguably the best defensive team around. Similarly to Princeton, if Nevada gets hot they become a real upset threat.
The real value bets this year lie in the 13-4 and 14-3 rounds. These teams get to avoid the Arizona’s, Duke’s, and Louisville’s who could legitimately vie for a one seed. They are also as a whole really good shooters, probably the most important factor in determining the outcome of a college basketball game, especially an upset. New Mexico State, Florida Gulf Coast, East Tennessee State, Bucknell and Vermont all shoot at above a 54% clip for their 2 point shots. Iona and Winthrop are equally deadly from the 3. The gems of this class are Bucknell, and my two favorites Vermont and East Tennessee State. All shoot above 54% from 2 and 36% from 3, if they got hot look out. They also play a little better defense than some of their peers with similar seeds. Rounding out the 14 seeds, New Mexico State, FGCU, and Iona are all efficient shooters as well. Kent State although they rebound well, they don’t shoot at an elite level and are likely going to be outmatched by UCLA the nations top offense.
What we didn’t see in this years class of potential upsets, are any teams excelling in creating turnovers or elite on defense. However we were graced with excellent shooters, and some decent rebounding teams. I would take field goal efficiency every day. Anyways there you have it, my 2017 March Madness upset candidates. Note I say candidates, many of these teams will go on to be blown out, but most will compete, and a couple are going to prevail, hopefully we have narrowed our upset contenders correctly. There you have it, focus on the 13 and 14 seeds this year, particularly Vermont, East Tennessee State, and Bucknell if they can handle the pressure (see what I did there?)