Nate Silver, the statistical genius who you may know from his fantastic work with election maps, wrote probably 2,500 words on the NCAA tournament and stats, and here are the three nuggets (and one chart) that matter the most when it comes to making picks:
* “The worst decision that the tournament committee made? Probably seeding Memphis, whom power ratings have as about the 10th best team in the country, as a No. 8 seed instead. This is one reason that the program likes Missouri rather than Michigan State to emerge out of the West region”
* “the teams seeded from about No. 3 through No. 6 this year are somewhat weaker than normal.”
* “Another under-seeded team is Belmont, who should have been about a No. 9 seed based on their power rating but got a No. 14 seed instead. They could give Georgetown, whom the system thinks was slightly over-seeded as a No. 3, a good run when they play”
* I also highly suggest taking a peek at this chart. Check out what the numbers have to say about double-digits seeds with the best chance of getting to the Sweet 16: Belmont, North Carolina State, Texas and Purdue. One sleeper for the Elite 8 you may want to keep an eye on: New Mexico.
Luke Winn over at SI has some pretty neat statistical tidbits you may also want to take a gander at:
* “Historically, high-seeded teams with great offense/mediocre defense efficiency profiles — the last two Adam Morrison Gonzaga squads, Chris Paul’s last Wake Forest team, and more recently, 2008 Drake, 2010 New Mexico and 2011 Notre Dame — have failed to make deep tourney runs. This is relevant to the 2012 bracket because we have four top-five seeds who fit that profile:” Missouri, Indiana, Duke, Temple.
* Of the 1-4 seeds from the past nine NCAA tournaments (2003-present) … only one team that ranked highest in percentage of possessions on which turnovers were forced made the Final Four and “many of them woefully underperformed their seeding … The top 1-4 seeds in that category this year are East No. 1 Syracuse (6) and West No. 3 Marquette (23).”