Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Men's College Basketball Conference Tournament Probabilities: Atlantic Sun

Part 4 of a 30 part series. Using Sagarin's Predictor ratings in a prediction formula, I'll weigh the probability of each conference team in each possible tournament matchup and through a Markov chain determine their chances of winning the tournament.

We've seen three fairly straightforward conference tournament situations, featuring a dominant favorite and varying degrees of underdogs vying for the upset. But now we see a conference tourney where the field is wide open: The lowly Atlantic Sun Conference.

- A four way tie for 1st in the conference triggered a tiebreaker and left the conference's best team, Belmont, with the #3 seed. #5 seed East Tennessee State, per Sagarin Predictor the 2nd best team in the conference, finished only one game behind.

- In fact, Sagarin Predictor ratings indicate the difference between the 1 and 5 seeds is fairly small. And while the #6 seed is a bit behind in terms of strength, they reach the peloton with an edge from....

- ... the entire tournament being held in Macon, GA (the first tournament we'll see played entirely at a neutral site), giving hometown school Mercer (the #6 seed) the home court advantage. Everyone else is facing a neutral court situation (the next closest team is #8 seed Kennesaw State, based 85 miles from Macon), making many potential matchups fairly close.

This is the first tourney where there is no odds-on favorite (a team with greater than 50% chance of winning), and the first where the top seed is not the favorite. #3 Belmont, at 3.8 to 1 (20.8%), has the best shot and that's not saying much. Only bottom seeds North Florida and Kennesaw State are facing truly long odds of winning. Beyond those, this field is fairly wide open. Some teams have better bracket situations than others and ultimately everyone's a longshot, but all of the six remaining seeds have realistic shots at winning the Atlantic Sun's NCAA Tournament bid.

Here are the Atlantic Sun Tournament Odds for every team involved:

1. Lipscomb: 5.3 to 1
2. Jacksonville: 4.3 to 1
3. Belmont: 3.8 to 1
4. Campbell: 7.1 to 1
5. East Tennessee State: 4.8 to 1
6. Mercer: 7.2 to 1
7. North Florida: 96.3 to 1
8. Kennesaw State: 122.3 to 1

Next: The Patriot League

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