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So you're saying there's a chance? Random tidbits for the Cats NCAA chances

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I don't think anyone could be happier than me that the Wildcats made the tournament at all.  This has been one seriously messed-up season by Kentucky standards, and even though this tough Kentucky team has stolen our hearts with their never-say-die attitude and relentless determination, nobody who has been around the Big Blue Nation for any length of time would call this a typical Kentucky basketball team.  This year has been a totally different experience for all Kentucky fans, and not altogether in a bad way.  Yes, we got beat by teams nobody outside their respective fan bases has ever heard of.  Yes, Vanderbilt hung a 41-point beating on us in Nashville.  Yes, our out of conference best win was Liberty (!).

But even after all that badness, we have to recognize that Kentucky went 12-4 in the SEC.  That is a remarkable turnaround, and even as I acknowledge that this year's SEC isn't anything like the SEC of the last few years, it is still one of the best basketball conferences in the land.  Billy Packer kicked up a fuss with Tim O'Connor, the Chairman of the NCAA Selection Committee over why the ACC didn't get more in, even after being the strongest RPI conference in the land.  Obviously, Billy Packer's grasp of statistics is kind of limited, or otherwise he would understand that most of the ACC's strength lay with the very top.  This chart illustrates that very well (Thanks to ):

Pac 10
Total Members 12 10 12
RPI Rankings (Season Averages)
Conf RPI Rank 2.4 5.2 2.5
Avg Team RPI Rank 58.5 80.6 58.0
Median Team RPI Rank 53.1 67.2 51.4
Hi Team RPI Rank 2.4 4.5 5.1
Low Team RPI Rank 137.7 197.9 137.1

When you look at the SEC RPI in this way, all the sudden, we don't seem so weak, do we?  As is often said of stats, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."  A clever calculator and you can arrange the stats to tell you anything you want to hear.  Paccer Packer did just that -- he ignored the stats inconvenient to his argument and focused on the ones that supported it.

But moving on, I wanted to take a look at the tournament history of 11 seeds, and of Marquette and Kentucky.  Here are just a few things, all courtesy of Basketball State:

How have #11 seeds fared against #6 seeds since 2000?

Date School Opponent Conference Coach Round City Result
03/16/2007 (11) Winthrop (6) Notre Dame Big South Gregg Marshall Round of 64 Spokane, WA W, 74-64
03/15/2007 (11) Virginia Commonwealth (6) Duke Colonial Anthony Grant Round of 64 Buffalo, NY W, 79-77
03/17/2006 (11) George Mason (6) Michigan State Colonial Jim Larranaga Round of 64 Dayton, OH W, 75-65
03/16/2006 (11) Milwaukee (6) Oklahoma Horizon League Rob Jeter Round of 64 Jacksonville, FL W, 82-74
03/17/2005 (11) UAB (6) Louisiana State Conference USA Mike Anderson Round of 64 Boise, ID W, 82-68
03/20/2003 (11) Central Michigan (6) Creighton Mid-American Jay Smith Round of 64 Salt Lake City, UT W, 79-73
03/15/2002 (11) Southern Illinois (6) Texas Tech Missouri Valley Bruce Weber Round of 64 Chicago, IL W, 76-68
03/14/2002 (11) Wyoming (6) Gonzaga Mountain West Steve McClain Round of 64 Albuquerque, NM W, 73-66
03/16/2001 (11) Temple (6) Texas Atlantic 10 John Chaney Round of 64 New Orleans, LA W, 79-65
03/15/2001 (11) Georgia State (6) Wisconsin Atlantic Sun Lefty Driesell Round of 64 Boise, ID W, 50-49
03/17/2000 (11) Pepperdine (6) Indiana West Coast Jan van Breda Kolff Round of 64 Buffalo, NY W, 77-57

This doesn't look so bad, now does it?  In every year except 2004, a 6 seed has fallen to an 11 seed.  But how have they done after that?  We have to approach this in a bit of a roundabout way -- how many times the 11 seed has beaten the 3 seed (our next round opponent if form holds in the 3-14 game, a pretty good bet historically.  In fact, a 14 seed and an 11 seed have never won their first round games in the same tournament since 2000:

Date School Opponent Conference Coach Round City Result
03/19/2006 (11) George Mason (3) North Carolina Colonial Jim Larranaga Round of 32 Dayton, OH W, 65-60
03/17/2002 (11) Southern Illinois (3) Georgia Missouri Valley Bruce Weber Round of 32 Chicago, IL W, 77-75
03/18/2001 (11) Temple (3) Florida Atlantic 10 John Chaney Round of 32 New Orleans, LA W, 75-54

Hmm.  It happens, but not very often.  Only 3 times since 2000, a total of 3 wins in 11 tries, or 27%.  Not very good odds.  But they do get worse.

How many times in all of history has an 11 seed reached the regional finals?  In the case of an 11-2 matchup:

Date School Opponent Conference Coach Round City Result
03/20/1986 (11) Louisiana State (2) Georgia Tech Southeastern Dale Brown Sweet 16 Atlanta, GA W, 70-64

In the case of an 11-7 matchup:

Date School Opponent Conference Coach Round City Result
03/24/2006 (11) George Mason (7) Wichita State Colonial Jim Larranaga Sweet 16 Washington, DC W, 63-55
03/23/2001 (11) Temple (7) Penn State Atlantic 10 John Chaney Sweet 16 Atlanta, GA W, 84-72
03/23/1990 (11) Loyola Marymount (7) Alabama West Coast Paul Westhead Sweet 16 Oakland, CA W, 62-60

How about an 11-10 or 11-15 matchup?  Never happened.

They don't call this "March Madness" for nothing.