When looking for possible upsets to pencil in the bracket, there are multiple sets of metrics to sort through. I prefer the KenPom offensive and defensive efficiency rankings when making the decision on what upsets are most likely. Of course, this tournament is so unpredictable and that’s what makes it fantastic. I have compiled data on the 12-15 seed upsets for the last 5 years to give the few of you who actually read this a little more information to find Cinderella.
(Note: O-EF is offensive efficiency, D-EF is defensive efficiency, DOG is the underdog’s added rankings, and FAV is the favorite’s added rankings).
|12 Harvard||47||34||5 Cincinnati||110||8||81||118|
|12 SF Austin||38||102||5 VCU||107||6||140||113|
|12 NDSU||29||131||5 Oklahoma||16||91||160||107|
|14 Mercer||76||119||3 Duke||2||116||195||118|
|12 Oregon||94||10||5 Ok State||68||15||104||83|
|12 Ole Miss||31||63||5 Wisconsin||108||1||94||109|
|14 Harvard||73||145||3 New Mexico||53||18||218||71|
|15 FGCU||104||109||2 G’Town||78||2||213||80|
|12 Cal||100||38||5 UNLV||135||11||138||146|
|13 LaSalle||36||99||4 Kansas St||15||56||135||71|
|12 VCU||102||19||5 Wichita St||14||31||121||45|
|15 Lehigh||71||102||2 Duke||10||81||173||91|
|15 Norfolk St||181||177||2 Missouri||1||146||358||147|
|12 S. Florida||169||4||5 Temple||27||104||173||130|
|13 Ohio||88||40||4 Michigan||19||61||128||80|
|12 Richmond||36||59||5 Vandy||12||129||95||141|
|13 Morehead St||117||73||4 Louisville||55||3||190||58|
|14 Ohio||68||111||3 G’Town||10||61||179||71|
|13 Murray St||75||33||4 Vandy||30||70||108||100|
|12 Cornell||4||174||5 Temple||89||6||178||95|
*There have been 20 such upsets in the last five years.
*Of the 20 upsets, 19 of the higher-seeded teams had either an offensive or defensive efficiency outside of the Top 50. Wichita St. in 2012 was the only 1-5 seeded team to lose in the last five years with both a Top 50 offense and defense.
*Of the 20 upsets, 19 of the teams had a combined ranking of 225 or less. The only outlier: Norfolk State in 2012 with a combined ranking of 358.
*Only three of the upsets featured lower-seeded teams with an offensive or defensive efficiency ranking outside the Top 150. (Cornell in 2010, Norfolk St. in 2012, and S. Florida in 2012).
*Looking at the higher seeds that have lost in the last five years, the majority of them were not balanced. All but two teams (Vandy in 2010 and Temple in 2012) had either a Top 20 ranked offense or defense.
2015 Efficiency Ratings
|12 Buffalo||48||93||5 WVU||33||46||141||79|
|12 Wofford||145||77||5 Arkansas||20||81||222||101|
|12 Wyoming||177||68||5 UNI||15||17||245||32|
|12 SF Austin||22||104||5 Utah||18||8||126||26|
|13 Valpo||135||31||4 Maryland||58||36||166||94|
|13 Harvard||172||34||4 UNC||12||45||206||57|
|13 UC Irvine||124||90||4 Louisville||97||6||214||103|
|13 E. Wash||47||280||4 G’Town||41||24||327||65|
|14 N’Eastern||89||169||3 ND||2||111||258||113|
|14 Georgia St.||56||102||3 Baylor||13||32||158||45|
|14 Albany||122||154||3 OU||51||5||276||56|
|14 UAB||129||128||3 Iowa St.||7||82||257||89|
|15 NMSU||121||86||2 Kansas||37||7||207||44|
|15 Tx Southern||179||220||2 Arizona||11||3||399||14|
|15 Belmont||64||251||2 Virginia||26||1||315||27|
|15 NDSU||194||121||2 Gonzaga||6||21||315||27|
Higher-Seeded Teams at Risk
Only three matchups feature higher seeds with at least one sub Top 50 efficiency rating and lower seeds with a combined ranking of 225 or less.
12 Wofford vs. 5 Arkansas
13 Valpo vs. 4 Maryland
13 UC Irvine vs. 4 Louisville
I would definitely have been concerned if ND had been matched up with Georgia State, after doing this research. The Irish have almost identical efficiency ratings as Duke last year; however, Mercer was a better team than Northeastern, according to the ratings.
The strongest overall teams in the 12-15 seed range (according to combined efficiency ranking) include: 1) SF Austin, 2) Buffalo, 3) Georgia St., and 4) Valparaiso.
Most Likely Upsets
12 Stone Cold over 5 Utah – While KenPom rates Utah as one of the most efficient teams in this tournament, I am going with the eye test on this one. I just don’t believe Utah is a good basketball team, and they face a team that won a 12/5 game last year and is the strongest low seed.
12 Buffalo over 5 WVU – This one may depend on the health of Moss for Buffalo and Staten for the Mountaineers. Buffalo is the only team seeded 12 or below to have Top 100 offensive and defensive efficiency ratings. Vegas also thinks this is the most likely 12/5 as it currently has the smallest point spread: WVU -4.5
13 Valpo over 4 Maryland – I can’t believe I am writing this after watching Valpo last Monday, but the Crusaders have a chance. They play excellent defense, the Terps struggle at times on the offensive end, and Vegas is begging bettors to wager on Maryland -5.
14 Georgia St. over 3 Baylor – Georgia State is a very strong 14 seed…if Ryan Harrow is healthy. He certainly didn’t look healthy when he was put in at the end of the 1st half on Sunday for one offensive possession. The spread is in the single digits, so Vegas expects this to be a game.
15 New Mexico St. over 2 Kansas – Though Kansas does not fall into the category of high seeds at risk for an upset based on efficiency, Ellis is banged up and Alexander’s status remains in flux. New Mexico St. has a combined efficiency rank less than 225 and is inside the Top 150 both offensively and defensively. And the spread is only 10.5? Sign me up.