March 19, 2013 - by Mike Greenfield
In the East Region of 2013’s NCAA Bracket, Indiana stands out as a clear favorite.
2013 has been a topsy turvy year in NCAA Basketball, but Indiana has been near the top throughout. The Hoosiers’ play, thanks to high shooting percentages on offense and low shooting percentages on defense, has been strong all year. They rank #3 in our predictive ratings, a bit lower than most; our consensus adjusted rating places them second in the country behind Louisville.
And the Hoosiers are fortunate to play in a bracket that isn’t especially strong. Though Miami could have easily received a #1 seed, the Hurricanes don’t stand out as a strong #2: they rank just eleventh in our predictive power ratings; other ratings systems have them even lower. We adjusted for the Hurricanes’ early struggles without Reggie Johnson, bumping them up nearly a point. However, even with that adjustment, the Canes rate as the second weakest #2 seed, and would be a clear underdog against Indiana in a regional final.
There’s some good news for Miami, though: the bottom half of the East region has by far the weakest #3 seed. Marquette rates as our #19 team in Team Rankings’ predictive ratings, and we’re higher on them than most other systems are. The Golden Eagles could find themselves in trouble in a tough first round game against Davidson, and in a possible second round matchup against Butler projects as a close game.
Meanwhile, Syracuse, the second Big East team in the East Region, is seeded about right at #4. We have the Orange as the #14 team in the country, and the other major systems rate them similarly. Syracuse’s biggest early round challenge will be playing in Northern California with three Western teams: our similar games model shows that travel might affect the Orange.
The lower seeded teams don’t stand out in the 2013 East Region.
With the exception of Davidson, who should probably be a #13 seed ahead of New Mexico State, Montana, and South Dakota State, no team seeded #5 or below in the East is the best at their seed line in this year’s NCAA Tournament. UNLV and Butler are #30 and #32 in our power ratings, respectively, suggesting that #8 seeds would be more appropriate. Ken Pomeroy is even harsher, rating them at #36 and #52.
Both teams face tough first round challenges: UNLV has to play a short drive from Cal’s home court in San Jose, while Butler could have a challenging matchup against Bucknell.
The 8-9 game between NC State and Temple projects as an uneven one where the favorite has a 2 in 3 chance to win. By contrast the Illinois-Colorado game projects as a tossup.
One of the more notable aspects of public picking data is the large number of people picking Miami. Indiana is the clear public favorite — and they should be — but an amazing 80% of public participants are picking one of those two schools to win the region.
That means that even in a region with relatively weak lower seeds, it may be a good strategy to go with a low-seeded sleeper or two in a large pool. Here’s what we recommend for the largest pools.
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