Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Men's College Basketball Conference Tournament Probabilities: Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)

Part 26 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.

Arkansas Pine Bluff started the season with an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule that included force fed beatings on the road from UTEP, Arizona State, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Kansas State and Oregon, all in succession before they began SWAC conference play... with an overtime win against Mississippi Valley State.

One 14-4 conference season later, the only thing ugly about Pine Bluff's outlook is their overall record. The impossible non-conference stretch managed to battle-harden them for their SWAC conference schedule, and once that began they were clearly head and shoulders above most of the lowly conference, typically a farm for 16 seeds, en route to finishing 2nd in conference play.

And none of this is to say Pine Bluff isn't a 16 seed if they win out: Their record alone would probably land them in the Play-In Game (they'd be 17-15 should they win out), but Sagarin has them rated 247 out of 347 teams, best in the SWAC, and Pomeroy has them rated 242. They are definitely a 16 seed if they take the SWAC.

And the reason I dwell on them is because they are the 3 to 2 favorite (40.5%) to win the SWAC. Credit the schedule. Credit their resolve. Or credit the crappiness of a conference whose bottom five teams are among the 15 worst teams in all of Division I according to Sagarin: Last place Alcorn State, left out of the tournament, is in fact 347th out of 347 D-I teams. Southern University, also left out, is 345th, while 8th seed Grambling is 344th.

Dark horses to knock off the comeback kids are top seeded Jackson State (9 to 2) and #5 Texas Southern (4 to 1), with #3 Alabama State (17 to 2) in the distance.

Here are the SWAC odds for every team involved:

1. Jackson State: 4.7 to 1
2. Ark Pine Bluff: 3 to 2 (40.5%)
3. Alabama State: 8.4 to 1
4. Prairie View: 13.3 to 1
5. Texas Southern: 3.9 to 1
6. Alabama A&M: 55.5 to 1
7. Mississippi Valley State: 55.9 to 1
8. Grambling: 201.5 to 1

Next: The ACC, where certainly Duke is Duke. They're on TV more than Leave it To Beaver... reruns

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