Thursday, March 4, 2010

2010 Men's College Basketball Conference Tournament Probabilities: Colonial Athletic Association

Part 9 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 conference that produced George Mason's famous 2005-2006 NCAA Tournament run may produce a new mid-major powerhouse.

The Colonial Athletic Association's new darling isn't Mason, however. Jim Larranaga is still the coach but this year's 17-13 Mason squad is a far cry from the squad that snuck into the Final Four four years ago, and is in fact the longest shot to make the CAA 2010 finals of the top seven seeds, despite being the #4 seed and receiving a 1st round bye.

The CAA's new power team is a team that once was a basketball power... women's basketball, that is. Old Dominion's men's team has historically been a far cry from the dominant ODU women's squads of the past 20 years, but this year's Sagarin rating has the ODU men rated 43rd in the midst of a strong 23-8 season. 43rd could warrant an at-large slot in a weak Division I field if ODU doesn't slip and suffer an upset to a lesser foe. However, being the conference's best means there aren't any teams ODU can afford to lose to in the CAA Tournament without hurting their rankings... except for one.

Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) is probably the 2nd strongest team in the CAA despite landing the #5 seed in conference play. But they come into the tournament with the home court bonus, as the CAA Tourney's being held in their hometown of Richmond, VA. By being able to take a quick ride up the street instead of a bus ride from a hotel, they'll have the freshness and comfort advantage. ODU can get in at-large provided their loss is a close loss in a semifinal matchup with VCU, the only possible game in which they wouldn't be favored to win. Lose in any other game, and ODU is NIT bound.

Still, ODU is a strong 2 to 1 shot to win, but thanks to VCU's home court advantage they are not the favorite: VCU at 3 to 2 is the favorite to win, and would be favored in any possible game they could play.

Now, beyond that interplay of favorites, only two other CAA teams are anything other than an extreme longshot to win this thing: #2 Northeastern is a dim 11 to 2 (15.4%) while one of William & Mary's better squads in recent decades (19-9 and the #3 seed) is still around 15 to 1 (6.4%) to win.

Nobody else is closer than #7 Hofstra's 51 to 1. That once proud George Mason team? The Krptonite's half life has expired and their #4 seeded squad is actually a 120 to 1 shot: They're more of a middle of the pack CAA team this year, and with VCU probably waiting for them in the quarters as well as ODU in the semis, it's game over unless they relive some of that 2006 magic.

For fun, here is #12 seed and 13200 to 1 shot Delaware's chances of...

... winning their 1st round game with VCU: 23 to 1
... and beating Mason in the semis: 95 to 1
... and reaching the CAA Finals, most likely by having to beat #1 ODU: 1784 to 1

And just for fun, should they make the finals, their chances of winning the final: 13 to 2

Here are the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Odds for every team involved:

1. Old Dominion: 2.1 to 1 (32.4%)
2. Northeastern: 11 to 2 (15.5%)
3. William & Mary: 14.7 to 1
4. George Mason: 120.0 to 1
5. Virginia Commonwealth: 1.5 to 1 (39.6%)
6. Drexel: 60.6 to 1
7. Hofstra: 51.3 to 1
8. Towson: 7427.9 to 1
9. NC Wilmington: 591.6 to 1
10. Georgia State: 688.9 to 1
11. James Madison: 2883.5 to 1
12. Delaware: 13198.2 to 1

Next: The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

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