Does the Slipper Fit? Potential First Round Upsets

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 6 years to give you 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).

2011 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
12 Richmond 36 59 5 Vandy 12 129 95 141
13 Morehead St 117 73 4 Louisville 55 3 190 58
2012 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
12 VCU 102 19 5 Wichita St 14 31 121 45
12 S. Florida 169 4 5 Temple 27 104 173 130
13 Ohio 88 40 4 Michigan 19 61 128 80
15 Lehigh 71 102 2 Duke 10 81 173 91
15 Norfolk St 181 177 2 Missouri 1 146 358 147
2013 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
12 Oregon 94 10 5 Okla State 68 15 104 83
12 Ole Miss 31 63 5 Wisconsin 108 1 94 109
12 Cal 100 38 5 UNLV 135 11 138 146
13 LaSalle 36 99 4 Kansas St 15 56 135 71
14 Harvard 73 145 3 New Mexico 53 18 218 71
15 FGCU 104 109 2 G’Town 78 2 213 80
2014 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
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
2015 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
14 Georgia St 56 102 3 Baylor 13 32 158 45
14 UAB 129 128 3 Iowa State 7 82 257 89
2016 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
12 Yale 92 21 5 Baylor 13 72 113 85
12 UALR 85 35 5 Purdue 21 18 120 39
13 Hawaii 105 41 4 California 47 15 146 62
14 SF Austin 65 29 3 WVU 23 6 94 29
15 MTSU 197 71 2 Michigan St 2 19 268 21

After a quiet 2015, the mid-majors did some damage in 2016.  The four strongest teams on the 12-15 line in 2016 all won:  S.F. Austin (the strongest as a 14 seed), UALR, Yale, Hawaii.

Let’s look at some trends since 2011:

*There have been 24 such upsets in the last six years…so pick at least 4 in your bracket if you want to live a little.

*Prior to 2016, 17 of 19 upsets included teams with an offensive or defensive efficiency outside of the Top 50.  In 2016, 4 of the 5 teams who lost to 12-15 seeds were in the Top 50 in both.

*Of the 24 upsets, 21 of the teams had a combined ranking of 225 or less.  15 seed MTSU was one of the three outliers in 2016.

*Only three of the upsets featured lower-seeded teams with an offensive or defensive efficiency ranking outside the Top 150, including MTSU last year.

*Since 2011:  12 seeds are 11-13; 13 seeds are 4-20; 14 seeds are 5-19; 15 seeds are 4-20.

*All five teams that won last year were more efficient on defense than offense.

2017 Efficiency Ratings

2017 O-EF D-EF   O-EF D-EF DOG FAV
12 UNCW 18 189 5 Virginia 38 1 207 39
12 Princeton 84 46 5 Notre Dame 16 58 130 74
12 Nevada 34 101 5 Iowa St 13 43 135 56
12 MTSU 55 47 5 Minnesota 81 18 102 99
13 ETSU 109 44 4 Florida 31 4 153 35
13 Bucknell 87 88 4 WVU 28 5 175 33
13 Vermont 61 66 4 Purdue 24 16 127 40
13 Winthrop 138 110 4 Butler 17 49 248 66
14 NMSU 71 134 3 Baylor 22 14 205 36
14 FGCU 82 172 3 FSU 25 24 254 49
14 Iona 69 202 3 Oregon 19 22 271 41
14 Kent St 169 131 3 UCLA 3 78 300 81
15 Troy 74 225 2 Duke 6 39 299 45
15 N. Dakota 200 149 2 Arizona 20 28 349 48
15 Jax State 153 177 2 Louisville 23 6 330 29
15 N. Kentucky 134 186 2 Kentucky 14 9 320 23

High Seeds At Risk

Only two 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 Princeton vs 5 Notre Dame
12 MTSU vs 5 Minnesota

The strongest overall teams in the 12-15 seed range include:  1) MTSU, 2) Vermont, 3) Princeton, 4) Nevada.  The 14-15 seeds are pretty bad.

Most Likely Upsets

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Photo – AP

12 MTSU vs 5 Minnesota

The Blue Raiders are a popular upset pick…and for good reason.  Williams, Potts and Upshaw are a heck of a trio.  Vegas agrees, as Minnesota opened as a favorite of the slimmest of margins (-1).

13 Vermont vs 4 Purdue

This is the only 4/13 matchup with a spread in the single digits (Purdue -8.5).  Purdue has been shaky lately and is prone to the turnover.  Vermont has won 21 straight games.  Has all the makings, but can they really stop Biggie Swanigan?

I wish Gus Johnson would come out and hit one of the CBS play-by-play guys with a chair and just commandeer the broadcast.  Who could forget his call of the Vermont win over Syracuse…

12 Princeton vs 5 Notre Dame

Princeton is another hot team, having gone undefeated in conference like the Catamounts and winners of 19 straight.  This game features the second lowest difference in combined efficiency (ND +56).  Could be a tight one…and make me want to punch a wall.

14 New Mexico State vs. 3 Baylor

Of the brutal 14-15 seeds this year, the Aggies are the only team with a combined efficiency under 225.  Plus, Baylor isn’t exactly playing well coming into the tourney going 5-6 down the stretch after a 20-1 start.  Unlikely, but there’s a chance.

12 UNC Wilmington vs. 5 Virginia

I put this on here because UNCW can really score, while Virginia has serious difficulty scoring.  This is a very popular upset pick, but I think Virginia covers the 8.5.

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One response to “Does the Slipper Fit? Potential First Round Upsets

  1. Pingback: Overstuffed: South Region Preview | HEAD VS GUT·

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