The East might not be the toughest region after all


To recap the morning of non-blather: UNLV was unluckiest according to seed in the bracket, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune turned out a fantastic design for the morning after Selection Sunday, and somebody conceived a bracket where Princeton could actually win.

So let’s close it with a heavy hitter – Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus.

He normally analyzes the NBA, but took a stab at what I consider to be the most important aspect of the tournament. Seeding.

By using the ratings, he graphed the average rating by seed compared to their rating. The field essentially breaks down into three groups. From Pelton:

The top four seeds are all, on average, relatively similar. In part, this reflects a year in which the NCAA has not been especially top-heavy. With a handful of teams trading the top spot in the polls throughout the regular season, the gap between the top four teams and everyone else is a small one. The selection committee and the Pomeroy ratings agree on three of the four No. 1 seeds. The difference is that, by the numbers, the last top seed should have been Texas–which actually ended up on the four line.

From seeds five through nine, the average difference is difficult to spot. The difference, in terms of Pythagorean winning percentage, is only .026. By comparison, from 2006-09, the difference between those seeds was .035. There is another group of relatively similar teams, on average, between the 10 line and the 12 line before talent begins quickly dropping off among the automatic qualifiers from smaller conferences.

But that’s the average, which probably skews the difference between the best and worst team among each seed. That’s where it becomes perfectly clear that teams like Utah State and Belmont got the short stick.

And that’s not all. Pelton also weighs in on the easiest and hardest regions and figures out that they’re all … about the same! From 1-16, they’re fairly balanced. There are, however, advantages to being a certain 1 seed.

But you’ll have to read Pelton’s story to find out which. Can’t give the whole thing away, eh?

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