Round 1 Forum, Friday games: “POP” go the brackets!

Pop! That was the sound of millions of brackets getting busted across the land–including my Keeper bracket. The is the eighth year in 10 tourneys that Duke has failed to meet seed expectations. And Duke is the all-time victimized school, with Cinderellas knocking them off in 29 years. Recent crushing losses include:

  • 2014 – 3v14 loss to Mercer
  • 2012 – 2v15 loss to Lehigh
  • 2008 2v7 loss to West Virginia
  • 2007 6v11 loss to VCU

For anyone thinking that All-American Jabari Parker would be the difference in this game, he was. Only in reverse. Duke played better when Parker wasn’t on the floor.

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47 Responses to Round 1 Forum, Friday games: “POP” go the brackets!

  1. Andy says:

    Well there goes my Midwest. Hardest regional to pick but yikes! I am casting cold eyes on Duke going forward unless there is plenty of reason not to.

    • ptiernan says:

      Have they become the new Pitt?

      • Andy says:

        Wouldn’t surprise me. I am starting to think an oddball team wins this regional. Tennessee would maybe be my pick but I don’t think a team with as bad a luck rating as them has gone that far, plus they didn’t go to the tournament last year. I can’t go with St. Louis or Texas for sure. I wonder if Merger’s magic isn’t done yet for some reason. This regional reminds me of the Southwest in 2011, so many weak favorites and one has to advance. I knew I hated this regional! At least I was able to take the winner out against Arizona.

        • Andy says:

          Pardon the typo. Auto-“in”correct at work changing to merger, should be Mercer.

          • Bullets-and-Blazers!! says:

            Way to go Andy, I mentioned repeatedly about Mercer going to pull an upset and you insist that I shouldn’t go with it.

        • Gary Diny says:

          Yeah, hoping now for some random team to make a deep run. Someone that very few will have picked to balance out losing Duke this early in my bracket.


      • Tom says:

        Don’t think so.

        I’d say the more apt comparison is Syracuse (which has underachieved in five of its last seven tournaments.) Maddening underachievement at times, but also sometimes capable of a deep run. It’s only been four years since Duke won a national championship, after all. Pitt is much more consistent in its underachievement.

    • Marc says:

      I still think Louisville is the best team in the bracket. Yesterday was a classic example of “styles make fights” and Manhattan made them play ugly but the Cardinals still won. As far as Duke goes, as long as they stay small, I won’t trust them going forward.

  2. Will says:

    Bizarre that a team that’s so well-coached continues to fail in the Big Dance. Agreed with earlier poster that I’m done with looking favorably upon Duke for a while.

  3. BD says:

    Did not pick this one correctly but I am not mad at all. Way to go Mercer! Have Tenn advancing from there so hopefully not too bad of a damage.

  4. ptiernan says:

    I did a quick calculation, and Coach K’s PASE will go down to around +.304. That’s still overachieving…but it’s just 21st best of the 99 active coaches with three or more appearances. More alarming: in the last ten years, Coach K’s PASE is a woeful -.810–nearly a game per dance below expectations. That would rank 97 out of 99, better than only Frank Haith and Oliver Purnell. Ouch!

    • Dan says:

      I wish I would have done those calculations ^^ before I slated Duke for my Elite 8. It is “odd” to me that a coach with as much success as Coach K has failed so miserably in the past 10 years. Especially when you consider the amount of GREAT players, and All-Americans he has at his disposal to reverse possible momentum back into Duke’s favor. I will definetely be seeking out Duke next year in my bracket, and if I get just a whiff of an upset I’m damn well going to pick it.

  5. Gary Diny says:

    I think a few things are at play here.
    1. The balance of college BB in general makes these upsets more common. Duke happens to be a top seed (1-4 ish) nearly every year. Thus more opportunities means more occurrences.
    2. Teams and players do not “fear’ Duke as much anymore. Similar to golf and Tiger Woods in that players do not fear him since YE Yang beat him at the PGA championship in 2009. VCU in 2007 first cracked the armor.
    3. With AAU explosion in the last 10 years, more players have chances to play the best and feel they are more capable, especially on any given day.


  6. Kaz says:

    The F4/Champ model took a blow. I used a variation a of this model by taking the F4/Champs from it and changing a few things before the Final Four. It still can get 3/4 right, but perhaps it missed Duke due to the committee having Louisville as a 4 seed instead of better? I know that the model has been great in the past (at least with predicting the Final 4/Champs), and can still get 3/4, but is it possible to in addition to the F4/Champs model, create an “enhanced F4/Champ model”, and attempt to identify teams that are either better/worse than their seed says they are? This may just be me sounding silly. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    • Gary Diny says:


      I agree with you. If you look at Louisville and make them a 3 or 2, does it change the FF/Champ rules for who qualifies out of the region?

      • ptiernan says:

        I leave that to you guys to figure out a system. It would be incredibly hard to 1) determine which teams over the 29 years have been over and under-seeded, then 2) to create rules for them. My database doesn’t do that.

        • Gary Diny says:


          Very much understand. Just looking at other ideas.
          For me, I put Duke in FF as I felt Louisville and Wichita St might be more popular picks, and just did not see Michigan having the goods to make a run like last year (sorry).

        • Kaz says:

          You’re right, it would be incredibly difficult to measure, just thought it would interesting to discuss!

  7. Kaz says:

    i think I’m going to create model called the “I Hate Duke Model”. It automatically eliminates them in the first round, unless they are a one seed, and then go from there.

  8. Marc says:

    Just looking at the last 10 years of craziness only proves that analytics are the best way to put together a winning bracket. Even if a team busts my bracket, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much now that I pour over stats and the seeding guide here. At that point, it’s just luck that comes into play.

    It used to be infinitely easier in the 80s and 90s to put together a solid bracket.

  9. Ryan Tressler says:

    Picked Tennessee to beat Duke in my bracket with an eye on Duke losing that game to Mercer (didnt pick it, but was not surprised today at all) . . . today made me even happier with that Tennessee pick (actually have them going to the elite 8 because I think they are better than Michigan, sorry Pete, haha)

  10. Nick says:

    I’m not one to toot my own horn but TOOT-TOOT. I am in 1st place at this moment in the seven pools I am in. Been doing pools for 17 years and never have I done this well. 88% of picks correct with only losing Duke, New Mexico, and NC State. Granted its early and it could all come crashing down, but my bracket was made by taking the Outcome match-up bracket plus Final 4 Champ bracket. I got this notion after Pete’s midnight question from his highly intelligent wife asking which tourney this one compares to. Since this one compared closely to 2011 I used the brackets that performed the best. I also have to thank a forum post about making sure Duke was taken out by Tennessee! Thank you to that tip.

    Pete – love your work!! This site is the best our there for tourney analysis.

  11. larry k says:

    Good evening all,
    well, like most the Duke loss took a hit out of about half my bracket sheets.. i played 12 this year… 6 in two different pools… luckily, in 6 of them i chased TENN instead of the dukies… i was not in love with TENN, but it was kinda the least of all evils… i could not see Michigan winning more than 2 games.. so if it wasnt Duke then it had to be TENN by default.. what also helped was i think UMASS was HORRIBLE and not worthy of a 10 seed, let alone a 6.. so that was a gimme game for TENN and i now need them to be a MERCER team that they ‘should’ be able to handle before the showdown with michigan..

    i do have one question about this years tourney overall… why is it that the VAST MAJORITY of teams are having problems closing out the games in the last 2 mins????? i’ve never seen anything so erratic in my life


  12. ptiernan says:

    Larry – And now we have the VCU gaffe. I agree. End of game management has been abysmal this year.

  13. Tom says:

    Question: What will Tony Bennett’s PASE be if he manages to lose to a 16? What would Cliff Ellis’s be?

  14. ptiernan says:

    It takes a little to calculate. If it happens, I’ll let you know.

  15. Gary Diny says:

    3 #12 seeds win, 4th loses in OT after leading by 16 with ~8 minutes to go.
    Picked 3 to win, missed on SF Austin and NC State.

    Beauty of March madness….you know the upsets are coming, but can you pick them, or at least more than the other pool entrants.

    • Ryan Tressler says:

      this is so true . . . i posted before the tourny started, you could expect one 13-15 seed and 5 10-12 seed winners in the first round . . . and that is pretty close to what happened (one more 10-12 seed won, making it 6) . . . picking the right ones is the difficult part . . . HOWEVER, all but one of the upsets met one of either the cinderella or victim criteria in the seed guide (or both) with NDSU vs Oklahoma being the only exception (note: Stanford/New Mexico game did not meet either of the criteria as a 10 winner, but the percentages of neither team qualifying still said one 10 seed would be expected to win win with a .328 win percentage for lower seed in these cases)

      Mercer qualified as killer
      Harvard qualified as killer with Cincy also a victim
      Dayton qualified as a killer with Ohio State a victim
      UMass qualified as a victim

      also, UCLA vs Tulsa is tied 30-30 as of me writing this, but UCLA does meet the victim criteria

  16. ptiernan says:

    More to the point, Gary…can you avoid major bracket damage when they happen? Like picking Duke to the Final Four (sigh).

    • Gary Diny says:

      Great point Pete!!! Retaining your Final 4, Elite 8, etc is more important than getting the majority of upsets in the first round (round of 64)

    • Ryan Tressler says:

      haha, I had a pretty awful first round (22 fo 32, ouch, haha, then again, the only bracket I filled out, I was going for perfect this year, lol) . . . so right now im hanging my hat on the fact that vcu is the only team i lost from my sweet 16

      the tourny is matching my guidelines for lower seed wins pretty closely, I just didnt pick the correct ones, haha (guidelines were to pick 1 13-15 seed to win, I picked NC Central because of pythag, and pick 5 of the 10-12 seeds to win, which their were 6 winners in that range thanks to the 12 seeds dominating the 5s this year)

  17. Patrick says:

    I think I remember reading on here that Mercer had all the characteristics of a 14 seed Cinderellas but Duke had none of the characteristics of a victim. I guess it’s not totally surprising considering all the stats about Duke’s recent woes. It is hard to weigh which stats have the biggest impacts.

  18. Marc says:

    After seeing UVA struggle the tilt with Memphis looks VERY interesting. Maybe it was first time, first round jitters and they’ll handle the Tigers but I’ll be watching closely. Almost took Memphis as they meet the upset criteria but they turnovers and wide efficiency gap kept me from doing it.

  19. mIKE mAGEE says:

    Pete, Nick, Marc, Ryan, Patrick, Gary,
    I play in a “Slow Death” or Round by Round pool. This pool starts anew with each round, Thiss gives me more hope than on some of my bracckets. I used the Preteender/Contender model with some successs losing 5 of the thirty two first round games, and retaining my final four/champ picks. Which model/models would you suggest to get more teams into the sweet 16? If like Nick says, this bracket resmbles the 2011 tourney, the Outcome/matchup would be helpful, but there seems to be more options. What do you guys think?
    Thanks so much (you crazy wounded wizards!),
    Mike Magee

    • Ryan Tressler says:

      I might be the wrong person to ask this year, haha . . . though I have 15 of 16 still alive for the sweet 16, I had a far from good first round . . . I do like the outcome matching model though, and another strategy I have liked is matching the seed model with expected results (has indentified the possible outcome for every game except the NDSU win, and techinically the Stanford game, but as I have explained, none of the 10s or 7s matched the criteria, but even still the odds said one of them would win, which one did, haha) . . . I would maybe use that to try to break ties . . . remember, if history is any indication, which has held fairly true so far, you can expect:
      two 6-7 seeds to advance to the sweet 16
      one 10-11 seed to advance to the s16
      one 12-15 seed to advance to the s16
      and an 8 or 9 seed winning every other year to advance to the s16

      • Ryan Tressler says:

        With that said, I love Tennessee as an 11 seed to advance over Mercer (obviously), kind of liking Memphis over Virginia, Baylor looked good as a 6 seed and fits as a 6 seed winner, also like Oregon over Wisconsin . . . as for the 12-15 seeds, good luck, haha, though I do have Harvard picked myself

        • Gary Diny says:

          Ryan, I am with you on looking at past numbers of seeds per round. Outcome matching with FF/champ with some seed-seed and toss up rules added in. Identifying the ones……..that hit.

          Gotta think we are getting closer to figuring it all out……………….OR NOT!!!!!!!!

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