ACC Tournament Probabilities

Virginia won the ACC regular season title outright for the second consecutive year. The Cavs enter the ACC tournament as the prohibitive favorites and Duke and Virginia have the best odds to reach the championship game. The ACC tournament will be played in Greensboro for the last time until 2020. The numbers in this table are the probabilities that a team will advance to each round of the tournament. Numbers to the left of team names indicate tournament seed. The ACC tournament begins on March 10.

2nd Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Champion
1   Virginia 100 100 93.8 78.3 54.5
2   Duke 100 100 79.5 62.7 28.1
4   Louisville 100 100 49.4 13.4 5.2
3   Notre Dame 100 100 67.8 20.5 4.7
5   North Carolina 100 84.9 49.6 11.6 4.6
7   N.C. State 100 66.5 17.1 5.9 1.9
6   Miami (FL) 100 78.0 27.8 5.2 0.8
10   Pittsburgh 100 34.6 4.3 1.1 0.1
8   Clemson 100 54.4 3.4 0.7 0.08
9   Florida State 100 46.7 2.5 0.4 0.04
12   Boston College 57 9.2 1.6 0.10 0.01
11   Wake Forest 61 14.2 2.0 0.12 0.005
13   Georgia Tech 43 5.5 0.7 0.03 0.003
14   Virginia Tech 39 6.1 0.5 0.02 0.001


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What does seed number tell us?

Here’s how NCAA men’s college basketball Division I tournament teams have performed by seed, going back to 1985 (the first year of the 64-team bracket).


SeedWins per Round
Round 1Round 2Sweet 16Elite EightFinal FourNational Championship
1 120 (100.0%)104 (86.7%)82 (68.3%)48 (40.0%)27 (22.5%)18 (15.0%)
2 113 (94.2%)77 (64.2%)56 (46.7%)26 (21.7%)12 (10.0%)4 (3.3%)
3 102 (85.0%)60 (50.0%)30 (25.0%)14 (11.7%)9 (7.5%)4 (3.3%)
4 95 (79.2%)54 (45.0%)19 (15.8%)13 (10.8%)3 (2.5%)1 (0.8%)
5 76 (63.3%)39 (32.5%)8 (6.7%)6 (5.0%)3 (2.5%) 
6 79 (65.8%)41 (34.2%)13 (10.8%)3 (2.5%)2 (1.7%)1 (0.8%)
7 73 (60.8%)20 (16.7%)8 (6.7%)1 (0.8%)1 (0.8%)1 (0.8%)
8 59 (49.2%)11 (9.2%)8 (6.7%)5 (4.2%)3 (2.5%)1 (0.8%)
9 61 (50.8%)5 (4.2%)2 (1.7%)1 (0.8%)  
10 47 (39.2%)23 (19.2%)7 (5.8%)   
11 41 (34.2%)17 (14.2%)6 (5.0%)3 (2.5%)  
12 44 (36.7%)20 (16.7%)1 (0.8%)   
13 25 (20.8%)6 (5.0%)    
14 18 (15.0%)2 (1.7%)    
15 7 (5.8%)1 (0.8%)    
16       

The 5, 6, and 7 seeds are virtually identical in the first round

Think of a bell curve with the top seeds and bottom seeds on either extreme. This leaves a fat middle section of teams that are very similar. 5, 6, and 7 seeds have won 76, 79, and 73 of their first round games respectively, making them indistinguishable based on seed alone.

Even though 5 and 12 seeds seem pretty far apart, they’re both in the fat middle of the bell curve. Much ado is made each year when a 12 seed upsets a 5 seed, but we shouldn’t think of it as particularly remarkable — it happens more than a third of the time and at about the same rate 10s upset 7s.

8 vs 9 is a toss-up in the first round but 8s have legs

In the first round, 9 seeds have actually won marginally more than half the time (61-59). In the second round, however, 8 seeds upset the 1 seeds much more frequently than 9 seeds (11 vs. 5 times). 8 seeds progress very well from there, taking advantage of a 1 seed’s relatively easy path to the Final Four.

Why this discrepancy, given that 8 and 9 seeds are so similar in every other way? Perhaps there’s a psychological factor — the 9 seeds have already exceeded expectations by notching an upset, whereas the 8 seeds were “supposed” to win and haven’t proven themselves yet. Perhaps this is just statistical noise, given the relative rarity of upsets over a 1 seed in the second round (13.3%). It’s worth keeping an eye on.

3 and 4 seeds have trouble making the Sweet 16

The 3 and 4 seeds do very well in the first round, winning about 80% or more of the time. But the second round is a different story, where they win barely half the games in which they appear — their win percentages drop to 58.8% and 56.8% respectively.

Seeds don’t matter past the Elite Eight

There’s a point somewhere around the 3rd round where seeds cease to matter. You’ll notice that the number of wins for each team is roughly half in each succeeding round after about the 3rd round.

…but 1 seeds win championship games

The one clear exception to this rule is 1 seeds in championship games. Of the 27 times a 1 seed has made it to the championship game, 18 times (66.7%) they have won. Note that this includes five championship matchups that pitted a 1 seed against another 1 seed — excluding these, 1 seeds have won 13 of 17 matchups against other seeds.



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America East Conference Tournament Probabilities

Albany won the regular season crown and will have the opportunity to play their conference tournament games in the comfy confines of the SEFCU Arena in Albany, NY. The numbers in this table are the probabilities that a team will advance to each round of the tournament.The America East tournament bracket is reseeded prior to the semifinals, so an upset could drastically improve the probabilities for higher seeded teams. Numbers to the left of team names indicate tournament seed. The America East tournament begins on March 4.

Semifinals Final Champion
1   Albany 96.1 77.0 48.9
2   Vermont 97.3 64.4 31.9
3   Stony Brook 94.3 31.5 13.6
4   New Hampshire 83.2 23.3 5.3
5   Hartford 16.8 3.4 0.4
6   Binghamton 5.7 0.3 0.02
7   UMBC 2.7 0.1 0.004
8   Maine 3.9 0.1 0.004


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Northeast Conference Tournament Probabilities

St. Francis (NY) won the regular season championship by three games and each game in the NEC tournament are hosted by the higher seeded team. This gives St. Francis (NY) home-court advantage throughout the tournament and makes the Terriers the prohibitive favorite to win the NEC championship. The numbers in this table are the probabilities that a team will advance to each round of the tournament. Numbers to the left of team names indicate tournament seed. The NEC tournament begins on March 4.

Semifinals Final Champion
1   St. Francis (NY) 85.8 71.7 52.5
2   Robert Morris 82.4 68.3 18.3
4   Mount St. Mary’s 69.6 20.3 7.1
3   Bryant 64.2 19.2 3.6
5   St. Francis (PA) 30.4 7.3 2.2
6   Sacred Heart 35.8 7.6 1.4
8   Long Island 14.2 3.3 0.7
7   Wagner 17.6 2.4 0.4


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Big South Conference Tournament Probabilities

The top five teams all finished within one game of the regular season title and have comparable probabilities of grabbing an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament by winning the conference tournament. The Big South tournament will be hosted by Coastal Carolina and played in the HTC Center in Conway, South Carolina giving the Chanticleers a slight bump and the second best odds of winning the Big South championship. The numbers in this table are the probabilities that a team will advance to each round of the tournament. Numbers to the left of team names indicate tournament seed. The Big South tournament begins on March 4.

Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Champion
2   High Point 100.0 70.7 44.3 28.4
3   Coastal Carolina 100.0 65.5 30.2 17.2
5   Winthrop 100.0 55.0 35.9 16.9
1   Charleston Southern 100.0 80.8 35.2 13.0
4   Radford 100.0 47.0 28.8 12.4
6   UNC-Asheville 80.3 29.4 11.4 7.5
7   Gardner-Webb 64.0 20.0 8.1 3.6
10   Campbell 36.0 7.4 2.0 0.6
9   Longwood 57.0 13.5 2.4 0.3
8   Presbyterian 43.0 8.1 1.1 0.1
11   Liberty 19.7 2.5 0.4 0.001


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OVC Tournament Probabilities

Murray State won the regular season title by a whopping six games and, not surprisingly, is the favorite to win the OVC tournament. Each game of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament is played at the Nashville Auditorium (neutral site). The numbers in this table are the probabilities that a team will advance to each round of the tournament. Numbers to the left of team names indicate tournament seed. The OVC tournament begins on March 4.

1st Rd Semifinals Finals Champion
1   Murray State 100.0 100.0 82.1 66.2
2   Eastern Kentucky 100.0 100.0 61.3 17.4
3   Belmont 100.0 62.8 25.7 5.5
5   Morehead State 71.7 42.8 10.1 5.1
4   Tennessee-Martin 100.0 45.0 8.4 3.6
6   Eastern Illinois 56.2 23.6 7.5 1.1
7   SIU-Edwardsville 43.8 15.7 4.1 0.5
8   Southeast Missouri 28.3 10.2 1.0 0.3


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