Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 Men's College Basketball Conference Tournament Probabilities: America East

Part 6 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.

The America East Conference usually stages a 9 team basketball tournament, where the bottom two teams square off in a preliminary play-in to determine who faces the #1 seed in a regular three-round eliminator between the remaining eight. But Binghamton, the scheduled #5 seed, shocked the conference by dropping out of the tournament due to concerns about serious problems with its program.

This rippled the layout of the conference tournament, despite Binghamton being projected as one of the tourney's weaker participants. The play-in game was eliminated and both Albany and Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) now get quarterfinal games (albeit as longshots vs the #1 and #2 seeds). Boston U now gets Hartford, who would be an easier opponent on a neutral court... except most of the tournament is being played in Hartford (the final is played at the higher seed's home court), giving the Hawks a slight home court bonus (Boston remains a 76% favorite vs the 8-21 Hawks).

Aside from that, three teams stand at least a decent chance of winning. #2 seed Vermont has the best chance of taking the tourney at 36.9%. Their toughest potential opponent in terms of probability would be against #4 seed Boston, the 2nd best team. The Terriers would only be a 51.4% favorite in that game, but overall they have a 28.8% chance of winning the tourney and would be favored in any game they could potentially play, but face a tougher slate as the #4 seed.

The dark horse is actually #1 seed Stony Brook at around 19.6%, another case of the best conference team not finishing with the best conference record. Stony Brook landed a 13-2 conference record (over Maine and Vermont's 11-4) to get an easy 1st round game. However, they will meet their match in the likely event that Boston wins the 4-5 matchup, as Boston is the 2nd best team in the conference.

Beyond that, #3 Maine has a hardway shot at roughly 8 to 1 to win it all, and everyone else is a distant longshot. Tourney host Hartford is a distant longshot, their home court advantage only improving their odds to around 52 to 1. Albany and UMBC benefited the most from the seeding shift thanks to bypassing the play in game... not that they'll notice. Albany went from a 573 to 1 shot to a better but still distant 81 to 1, and UMBC went from 10557 to 1 to a still seemingly impossible 406 to 1.

Here are the America East Tournament Odds for every team involved:

1. Stony Brook: 4.1 to 1
2. Vermont: 7 to 4 (38.8%)
3. Maine: 7.8 to 1
4. Boston U: 5 to 2 (28.6%)
5. Hartford: 52.4 to 1
6. New Hampshire: 34.9 to 1
7. UMBC: 405.6 to 1
8. Albany: 81.4 to 1

Next: The Missouri Valley Conference

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