Pretender candidates at every seed position

A few members have asked for me to identify teams that fit the Pretender criteria in the “Contender|Pretender” feature piece. I thought I saw that someone had done this in a blog comment, but couldn’t find it through the forest of recent posts. So, while watching T.J. Warren dismantle Xavier, I assessed the teams against the Pretender traits–and here’s who history says could fall short of seed expectations. (I’ve included the first characteristic where the team failed; they may have failed others too.)


  • Virginia (Inexperienced coach, no All-Americans)
  • Wichita State (SOS)


  • Kansas (W%)
  • Michigan (Guard scoring >77%)
  • Wisconsin (<51% Assists/FG)


  • Syracuse (<6 wins in last 10)


  • San Diego State (3/FGA <27%)
  • Michigan State A/FG > 60%


  • Saint Louis (senior laden starters)
  • Oklahoma (weak Pythag)
  • VCU (OE <1.09)
  • Cincinnati (OE <1.09)


  • Baylor (weak Pythag)
  • UMass (weak Pythag)


  • None


  • Colorado (A/TO <1)
  • Kentucky (A/TO <1)


  • Kansas State (met all three criteria)


  • All have historically weak Pythags (but bear in mind, that I’ve yet to put the adjusted KenPom numbers into my database). BYU and St. Joe’s have the lowest values.


  • Iowa (snake-bit coach, tourney novices)
  • Nebraska (<.640 W%)
  • Tennessee (<73ppg)
  • Providence (margin<5ppg)


  • Only Harvard meets overachiever criteria


  • None of these teams meets overachiever criteria


  • None of these teams meets overachiever criteria


  • None of these teams have the numbers to spring an improbable upset.
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9 Responses to Pretender candidates at every seed position

  1. John says:


    I noticed that you had Daytyon listed as having a TO margin <0. On your stats sheet they are listed having a -0.6 margin, but on the website they are listed as having a positive 0.6 TO margin. The positive margin has them ranked at 129, a -0.6 TO margin puts them around 220. Since OSU thrives on creating offense from defense this stat could actually make a difference in this game. By the way I am a new member this year and greatly appreciate the work that you do. Thank you.

    John S.

  2. ptiernan says:

    Hi John,

    In my system, a negative number is good. It actually means that you’ve got fewer turnovers than your opponent. This, of course, means that you’re right. I’m taking them off the Pretender list.

  3. Will says:

    I suppose others can take a look at this too, but considering that in the years most correlated to this tournament there have been 5 11-13 seed upsets and it’s already pretty apparent Harvard > Cincy is one, where is everyone else finding the other four?

    • John S. says:

      I like in this order the upsets: Harvard,Tennessee/Iowa winner, North Dakota St., Nebraska, Providence, New Mexico St..

  4. Platcat says:

    The original article was under “Upset Spotting” on March 17th….here you go

    A few members have asked for me to post the teams that meet the upset victor/victim criteria listed in the “2014 Upsets” feature article. Here’s the information. Bear in mind that some of these Cinderella opportunities never come to pass either because the candidate doesn’t get past an earlier round or my guidance automatically eliminates them in many bracket models. Still, it’s interesting to know, for instance, that New Mexico State has the numbers for a 4v13 upset and that Memphis could threaten Virginia.

    First Round Cinderellas
    ◾#11 Dayton
    ◾#12 Harvard
    ◾#13 New Mexico State

    Second Round Cinderellas
    ◾#8 Memphis
    ◾#10 Stanford, St. Joseph’s
    ◾#11 Iowa
    ◾#12 Harvard, North Dakota State, NC State, Xavier

    Sweet 16
    ◾#5 Saint Louis
    ◾#6 Ohio State, Baylor, North Carolina
    ◾#7 Texas
    ◾#8 Kentucky, Memphis, Colorado
    ◾#9 Pittsburgh, Kansas State, George Washington
    ◾#10 St. Joseph’s
    ◾#12 Harvard

    Elite Eight and Deeper
    ◾#5 Oklahoma
    ◾#6 Ohio State, Baylor
    ◾#7 Texas
    ◾#8 Kentucky
    ◾#9 Pittsburgh

    The criteria for high seed victims is a little different than the match-up guidance for Cinderellas. Here, I’m just identifying teams that are likely to fall short of seed expectations. For ones, that means getting to the Final Four. For twos, that’s reaching the Elite Eight. And for threes and fours, that means reaching the Sweet 16.

    High Seed Underachievers
    ◾#1 Florida, Wichita
    ◾#2 Michigan, Wisconsin
    ◾#3 Syracuse
    ◾#4 San Diego State, UCLA

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  5. Jon says:

    Wouldn’t Texas and Oregon both be pretenders? Texas by 3 point % less than the opponents and pythag and Oregon due to a snake bit coach with a team having less than 4 straight trips.

  6. James G says:

    Does a snake-bit coach but who has a good PASE usually make a pretender? The reason McCaffrey is snake-bit is because he’s made 5 ncaa tournaments with no long runs. But those 5 tournaments were with Lehigh (1), UNC Greensboro (1), and Siena (3). And although no long runs, he took Siena to the 2nd round 2/3 times – once as a #13 seed and once as a #9 seed.

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