Don’t just look at each team’s seed when filling out your March Madness brackets this week.
In some cases, the better team might actually be the lower seed, and it’s important to search for value when distinguishing between, say, all the No. 3 seeds in the bracket.
Using our tournament predictive power ratings, we can see which teams are overseeded or underseeded according to how we rank them against the rest of the field.
2012 March Madness Bracket Seed vs. Power Rating
First, let’s see how well the NCAA tournament selection committee did at seeding teams from best to worst. This chart plots 2012 NCAA bracket seed against the TR predictive power rating:
A few teams that are much better or worse than the rest of their seed line mates are highlighted. Memphis, in particular, seems very strong for a #8 seed.
Now, let’s take a closer look at a few of the most overseeded and underseeded teams. You might want to keep this info in mind when filling out your 2012 NCAA bracket.
Two Overseeded Teams: Seeds #1 Through #8
Florida State: The Seminoles likely turned some heads among the selection committee with their surprise run to the ACC title, but they’re still below the rest of the No. 3 seeds in our predictive power ratings, and are also worse than any No. 4 or No. 5 seed other than Temple (who we’ll discuss in a second). At No. 22 in the power ratings, Florida State ranks behind fellow three-seeds Baylor (9), Marquette (16) and Georgetown (17). The Seminoles also have the least likely chance (38.8 percent) of making the Sweet 16 of any team with a top-four seed.
Temple: The Owls were on a lot of folks’ radars as a possible sleeper team before the bracket was announced — but that was when they were projected as a No. 7 seed. They’re the lowest rated among all the No. 5 seeds in the tournament at 34th. Wichita State (13), Vanderbilt (15) and New Mexico (20) all check in much higher than Temple, so if you’re looking for that trendy 12-5 upset selection when filling out your bracket, either California or South Florida over the Owls might be a good place to start.
Two Underseeded Teams: Seeds #1 Through #8
Memphis: At 12th in our predictive rankings, the red-hot Tigers are rated higher than three No. 3 seeds, two No. 4 seeds and all of the teams seeded 5 through 7. Memphis won seven in a row to enter the NCAA Tournament, and the victories came by an average margin of 21.3 points. The Tigers are an extremely dangerous team for a No. 8 seed and, if they get past Saint Louis in the Round of 64, should be able to give top-seeded Michigan State all it can handle. (Unfortunately, because of the Tigers’ poor seed and unlucky draw, they’ll probably still come up short. We give them an 18.3 percent chance of making the Sweet 16.)
Indiana: The No. 4 seed is power rated higher than the No. 3 seed in every region but the Midwest. That includes the South, where the fourth-seeded Hoosiers (8) check in one spot ahead of No. 3 seed Baylor (9). Based on these ratings, it appears Indiana actually got a rough draw in the NCAA Tournament. Not only could it have easily been a No. 3 seed, but the Hoosiers also got matched up with Kentucky in a possible Sweet 16 meeting. With that in mind, it’s not a big surprise that they have only a 15.3 percent chance of making the Elite Eight, the second-lowest odds of any team seeded 1 through 4.
Two Overseeded Teams: Seeds #9 Through #16
Colorado: This tournament features some fairly high-rated 11-seeds (Texas and NC State come to mind), but Colorado isn’t one of them. The Buffaloes caught lightning in a bottle to win the extremely weak Pac-12 Tournament, but even then it appears they’re still overseeded at No. 11. Of teams seeded 9 through 12, Colorado has only a 6.8 percent chance of making the Sweet 16, the third-lowest odds of any team.
Southern Miss: Usually the point spreads on 8-9 matchups are all within one or two points, so it’s a bit surprising to see the ninth-seeded Golden Eagles currently listed as 5.5-point underdogs to No. 8 seed Kansas State in the East Region. But at 61st in our predictive power ratings, Southern Miss is well behind fellow 9-seeds Saint Louis (23), Alabama (36) and Connecticut (38). The Golden Eagles have only a 5.4 percent chance of making the Sweet 16, the lowest of any team seeded 9 through 12.
Two Underseeded Teams: Seeds #9 through #16
Belmont: Look out, Georgetown. Don’t be fooled by the Bruins being a No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region. They can flat-out play, and at 37th in our predictive power ratings, they rank ahead of one No. 6, one No. 7, two No. 9’s, two No. 10’s, three No. 11’s, four No. 12’s, and four No. 13’s. Belmont is about as underseeded as it gets, which explains why the Hoyas are only favored by 3.5 points in what is usually a lopsided 3-14 matchup. We give the Bruins a 39.2 percent chance of beating Georgetown and a 21.7 percent shot of reaching the Sweet 16, by far the best of any 14-seed.
Texas: The Longhorns were firmly on the bubble for all of February and early March, but now that they’re in, our predictive power ratings indicate they’re the most underrated No. 11 seed in the Big Dance. In fact, at 27th they’re actually three spots ahead of their first-round opponent, sixth-seeded Cincinnati (30th). Texas is 2-point underdogs in that matchup, but we give them a 50.2 percent chance of winning the game and a 25.2 percent chance of advancing to the Sweet 16, the best odds of any team seeded 9 through 12.