Cinderella spotting using historical upset rules and KenPom efficiency

I’ve had several requests from members to identify the Cinderella teams according to the Upset rules from the article in the Tips+ section. I’ll do that first, then list the teams that come closest to the favored opponent according to KenPom efficiency data.

Cinderellas by historical upset rules

Round one: 11 seeds – St. Mary’s, Belmont, 12 seed – California, 13 seeds – South Dakota State, Montana

Round two: 1v8 – None, 2v7 – Notre Dame, 2v10 – Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Iowa State, 3v11 – St. Mary’s, Belmont, 4v12 – Ole Miss

Sweet 16: Depending on the match-ups, any one of these teams has the numbers to spring an upset…if they’re still around: VCU, UNLV, Memphis, Butler, Arizona, Creighton, Colorado State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa State, St. Mary’s , Middle Tennessee

Cinderellas by KenPom efficiency proximity

Round one (top eight, closest to farthest): Minnesota (.0504), St, Mary’s (-.0316), Middle Tennessee (.0115), Bucknell (-.0267), Boise State (-.0386), Oregon (-.0541), La Salle (-.0607),Belmont (-.0615).

Round two (top eight, closest to farthest): Ole Miss (-.0068), Creighton (-.0395), St. Mary’s (-.0459) (San Diego State (-.0499), Oregon (-.0644), Belmont (-.0704), Illinois (-.0756), Notre Dame (-.0799)

Sweet 16: Too many options to calculate :-)

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30 Responses to Cinderella spotting using historical upset rules and KenPom efficiency

  1. cderrick77584 says:

    Thanks Pete! Confirms much of what I put together. Butler has some value with everyone writing them off. Iowa State as well if you’re willing to chance that…depends on pool size.

    • larryk13 says:

      thanks pete… saved me some time trying to do the same tonite…


    • Tom says:

      Well, I think it’s important to consider that Ohio State doesn’t really fit the bill of a 2-seed underachiever. Iowa State’s a tough draw, but I’d be more willing to pull the trigger on them if they were matched up with, say, Georgetown rather than Ohio State.

  2. Justin says:

    For KenPom differences, anything within + or minus 0.2000 is possible, anything close to 0.000 is essentially a toss up….

  3. Patrick says:

    Hey I have a question for Ryan Tressler or Pete. Ryan says that Gonzaga has the qualities of underachieving based on the top-seeded underachievers in the upset rules section. I looked back though, and as far as I can see Gonzaga definitely doesn’t have the qualities of underachievement. Let me know if it’s just the 3 hours of sleep talking or if I’m actually correct. Thanks.

    • Tom says:

      I think Gonzaga’s SOS qualifies them as a top-seed underachiever, if I’m not mistaken.

      • Patrick says:

        you have to have a SOS weaker than 80…Gonzaga’s is 74.

        • Tom says:

          Weird. ESPN’s RPI has their SOS at 96, as does Pomeroy. Either way, though, it’s fairly close.

          I don’t think the point is to use the rules as hard-and-fast, though. It’s using the past to predict the future; 1-seeds with SOS below 80 have underachieved in the past, but it’s not as though having an SOS of 74 magically makes you invulnerable. It’s similar to if the model says x seed with a scoring margin below 10.5 ppg will underachieve, and a team with a scoring margin of 10.7 ppg pops up on that seed line — I wouldn’t say “oh, they’re invulnerable because their margin’s better than 10.5 a game!”

    • Ryan Tressler says:

      What happened was I filled out the model before the strength of schedule that Pete uses was released, so I used KenPom’s strength of schedule rating instead (which has Gonzaga’s schedule rated 96th) . . . after the other strength of schedule was released, I forgot to recheck and change it. So you are correct, according to difference sos ranking, they do not qualify as vulnerable per the rules

  4. Patrick says:

    oh yeah I agree completely with what your saying just trying to get exactly who qualifies based on the rules. thanks.

  5. John says:

    I might be making a mistake, but doesn’t San Diego State qualify for a possible upset over Georgetown?

    • ptiernan says:

      I didn’t have it. Must’ve been some reason. Check the 2v7 upset rules again.

    • Ryan Tressler says:

      San Diego State gets disqualified for not being from a Big 6 conference (Though the Mountain West is probably a top 6 conference this year)

  6. Brandon says:

    Curious what y’all think of Davidson’s chances to not only beat Marquette but to make it to Sweet Sixteen. It’s a senior laden team with recent tourney success who’s on a roll playing against a team who has a small avg. margin of victory and a coach who’s yet to take his teams far.

  7. Dan says:

    Hey everyone,

    Just went through the underachieving qualities for top seeds, and the results showed that 3 out of 4 two seeds were vulnerable for exit by the Sweet 16 (only Ohio St didn’t qualify) and 3 out of 4 three seeds (not Florida)? Also just OK St vulnerable in the 1st rd as a 5 seed and no vulnerable 6 seeds? Am I reading that right?

    • Jon Scalf says:

      I have the same thing on 3 and 4 seeds. I haven’t seen much in the seed match-ups to find the supposed craziness of the tournament in the first rounds. Maybe it will be in the second rounds.

      Also, I have Wisconsin being an underachiever as well by .5 points in the scoring column. Haven’t done the 6 seeds yet.

  8. John says:

    So one of the key trends is that at least one 2 seed will not make it to the sweet 16.

    There are not many 7 or 10 seeds this year with the stats to pull off an upset (if any) and there are not any real glaring statistical trends pointing towards a 2 seed falling.

    The most enticing to me is Iowa St, but at the same time Ohio State is the only team that falls into the categorical Final Four.

    Maybe since two 2 seeds fell in the opening round last year there will be a regression of sorts and all 4 two seeds will make the sweet 16.

    This seems to happen every year but somehow the committee always manages to put out a bracket that if slighly tweaked would fall right into some great categorical trends.

    Is anyone considering having a 2 seed fall early this year?

  9. Dan says:

    Alright getting closer to the deadline here, hope everyone’s coming along. Who do you all think are the most likely double-digit seeds to get to the Sweet 16? Trends show at least one makes it every year, and I’m having trouble sticking to any for various reasons.

    • Ryan Tressler says:

      I like Belmont, they shoot 3’s well and shoot them often, plus, both Arizona and New Mexico will let you get 3’s off on them. Their rebounding slightly worries me, but their penchant for causing turnovers makes up for it.

  10. Allen says:

    Looks like in Round 2 Pitt is very close to Gonzaga’s Pythag, just .0152. That should put them as the 2nd more likely upset based on KenPom.

    • ptiernan says:

      Pitt has the seventh best Pythag. I think the outcome matching rules say to advance top seeds two rounds though. Ergo: the escape. It would not surprise me, though, to see the Panthers beat the Zags. They’ve got a big, athletic center who could contend with Olynyk. Pitt’s gotta get by Wichita State first though.

      • Allen says:

        Ahh, gotcha, the advance 2 seeds auto rule. I think Pitt got seeded low because of tourney rules regarding same conferences playing early on in the tournament. I’d do more research on them but I’m still working on my bracket! The West region is killing me.

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