Monday, March 1, 2010

2010 Men's College Basketball Conference Tournament Probabilities: Ohio Valley

Part 3 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.

Ranked 21st of the 32 Conferences by Sagarin's ratings, the Ohio Valley Conference isn't close to mid-major status but has enough halfway decent teams to warrant at least a booking at Nashville's Sommet Center for the Semis and Finals.

Like the Big South, the Ohio Valley plays a straight 8 team, three round tournament, excluding their two worst teams (SE Missouri State and Tennessee-Martin). The big difference is that, while the opening round games are played at the higher seeds' home courts, the semis and finals are played at a "neutral" site.

However, as with many conferences, the "neutral" site is actually close to a few schools, giving them a de facto home court advantage. Sure, the smaller conference schools don't tend to travel as well as major power schools' students and alumni do, but whether or not their fans come out, they still have the advantage of being close to home. #3 seed Austin Peay is about 45 miles away from Nashville. #6 seed Tennessee Tech is about 70 miles east. The biggest edge, however, ironically goes to the bottom #8 seed Tennessee State, whose campus is located right in Nashville. They pretty much will have the biggest home court advantage... if they can get there.

See, as with the preceding conferences, the Ohio Valley's roost is ruled by a single leader. Murray State is rated 62nd by the Sagarin ratings, and will probably make the NIT in the not-as-likely event that they don't win the OVC Tournament outright and take down the NCAA Tournament bid. But Murray State is an odds on favorite, with a 60.9% chance of winning out.

That's the lowest probability of any #1 seed we've seen thus far, and it's part of one of the more interesting tournament situations we've seen so far. Morehead State and Austin Peay are hardway bets to upset the Racers and win out. On the flip side, #5 seed Eastern Kentucky is probably the 3rd best team in the conference, but a three way tie for 3rd and the short end of a tiebreaker left them with the 5 seed and having to win a road game with Eastern Illinois to get to Nashville. This kind of screws what would otherwise be a decent dark horse: EKU is a 23 to 1 shot.

Tennessee State's lucky home court advantage is pretty much done in by the fact that they would have to upset Murray State to be able to use it. Don't hold your breath: The Racers are a 95.5% favorite to take care of State. State's got a chance at being the favorite in a few potential matchups if they hit the 22 to 1 longshot, which in all makes them a 115 to 1 shot, even better than #7 Jacksonville State at 265 to 1.

Here are the Ohio Valley Tournament Odds for every team involved:

1. Murray State: 60.4%
2. Morehead State: 4.3 to 1
3. Austin Peay: 7.7 to 1
4. Eastern Illinois: 49.9 to 1
5. Eastern Kentucky: 22.9 to 1
6. Tennessee Tech: 80.3 to 1
7. Jacksonville State: 264.9 to 1
8. Tennessee State: 115.3 to 1

Next: The Atlantic Sun Tournament


  1. Even if Tennessee State were to make it they would probably bring no more than 2000 fans to the championship. It baffles me but I have seen it year in and year out: with an enrollment of just under 9000 they have practically no fan base for basketball.

  2. True. Ultimately, many of the low conference teams draw few fans, and the home court advantage will come down to being closer to home. It's a bit easier on teams to take a bus or drive to the arena from home than to stay in a hotel and bus in.