Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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

Part 7 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.

A 10 team college basketball tournament field that includes solid mid-majors like Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Missouri State and Creighton at a truly neutral site in St. Louis? You'd expect a wide open semifinal with many possibilities for a tight, competitive final in this tournament, right?

Well, actually... despite four rounds, a truly neutral site for everyone and as many as four teams that aren't quite at-large tournament teams but can make a serious case for the NIT, the Missouri Vakkey Conference Tournament is yet another straightforward tournament situation. But the favorite isn't a huge favorite, and there isn't a clear cut 2nd team with more than a slight chance of winning. On the flip side, there are only two massive longshots, with everyone else falling into that also-ran longshot category reserved for perennial 8th place horses in a stakes race.

It's possible that MVC favorite Northern Iowa gets beat: They only have a 38.2% chance of winning it all. It's just not clear who exactly is likely to beat them. The closest shot is #2 seed Wichita State, but at 9 to 2 (18.2%) to take it all you can't exactly call them a favorite.

The next most likely team is the #3 seed, and one of the MVC's more unfamiliar strong teams: Illinois State, at 17 to 2 (10.4%). The conference's familiar faces are actually longshots: #4 Creighton is 13 to 1. Perennial bubble visitor Missouri State is at 11 to 1 thanks to an uncharacteristically bad conference performance landing them in the #7 seed and being one of the four dreaded opening round teams, playing for the right to plunge into the gaping maw of a top seed in the quarters. Joining them in the play-in games is #9 Southern Illinois (30 to 1), in what has to be one of their worst seasons in years.

Just for fun, here are 1570 to 1 Evansville's odds of....

... winning their opening round game with Missouri State: 5 to 1
... plus beating Wichita State to get to the MVC Semis: 46 to 1
... then getting to the MVC Championship: 250 to 1

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

1. Northern Iowa: 3 to 2 (38.2%)
2. Wichita State: 9 to 2
3. Illinois State: 17 to 2
4. Creighton: 13 to 1
5. Indiana State: 27.8 to 1
6. Bradley: 24.1 to 1
7. Missouri State: 10.9 to 1
8. Drake: 210.3 to 1
9. Southern Illinois: 30.3 to 1
10. Evansville: 1570 to 1

Next: The Northeast Conference

Bonus: The Spread has posted betting odds for the Missouri Valley Tournament.

Northern Iowa 5/4
Wichita State 5/2
Illinois State 7/2
Creighton 5/1
Missouri State 7/1
Bradley 8/1
Indiana State 11/1
Field 15/1

Given the calculated odds and the payouts for the odds listed above, here are the expected values of each particular prop if $10 is wagered on each prop. In other words, if you were able to hypothetically make this exact wager an infinite number of times, this is average amount you'd win or lose per wager.

Northern Iowa: -$1.41
Wichita State: -$3.64
Illinois State: -$5.31
Creighton: -$5.73
Missouri State: -$3.27
Bradley: -$6.41
Indiana State: -$5.83
Field: -$4.78

Recommendation to avoid at those odds.

Of course, the odds will vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, which will change the expected value each time. But using the odds I posted, one can generally determine the profitability of running with a particular number by figuring:

EV = (chance of winning x net money you'd win*) - (chance of losing x net money you'd lose)

* - Net money won is not the total paid to you, but the total gained over your bet. For example, if you're paid 2 to 1 on a $10 bet you get $30, but your actual net gain is $20 over the $10 you initially bet.

Anyway, if the EV number for a given bet is positive, it's a bet worth making.

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