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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Analyzing The East Regional

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Ever wish that more things worked like college brackets? That you could seed everything that way? Top 64 pre-game foods. Top 64 college players. Well, now you can do just that with your friends, with the Allstate BFF Brackets, which takes your 64 top Facebook friends (an algorithm seeds them based on interaction) and seeds them in four regions, exactly like the real tourney. Once the tourney starts, your friends advance with the corresponding seeds – till one is left standing. Check it out at

This afternoon, as promised, we'll begin looking at the regions.  I plan to look at the East this afternoon and the others between now and game time.  Fair Warning Disclaimer:  Please do not take this as advice on how to fill out your brackets.  I warn you that I am lousy at filling out brackets, frequently finishing poorly in bracket contests.  Forewarned is forearmed.

In this article we will examine the bracket from two standpoints.  First, the technical standpoint, which will utilize the log5 analysis to pick the bracket, using Ken Pomeroy's numbers as the driver.  The log5 performed very well in the conference tournaments, and if you'll remember, Kyvampyre did a log5 on the SEC Tournament, and it accurately predicted the entire tournament.

While this all sounds very mysterious and scientific, don't let it fool you.  Log5 tends to be more of a big-picture tool than a contest-by-contest tool.  There will be upsets in the NCAA Tournament, even dramatic ones.  But as an analysis tool, the Log5 does give us valuable insights, if not exactly a paint-by-numbers picture.

So we begin.  Here is the log5 of the East bracket.  Note that I have also done the play-in games, and just filled in the team who comes out best in that comparison:

2011 East Regional

Team Pyth. Win % Second Round Sweet Sixteen Regional Final Final Four
Seed Raw Adj.
1 Ohio St. 0.98 98.93% 84.13% 63.18% 48.99% 49.00%
16 Texas SA 0.35 1.07% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
8 George Mason 0.9 50.54% 8.06% 2.94% 1.14% 1.14%
9 Villanova 0.9 49.46% 7.75% 2.79% 1.06% 1.06%
4 Kentucky 0.96 89.59% 61.02% 22.50% 13.59% 13.60%
13 Princeton 0.71 10.41% 2.07% 0.16% 0.02% 0.02%
5 West Virginia 0.91 52.68% 20.01% 4.73% 2.04% 2.04%
12 Clemson 0.9 47.32% 16.90% 3.71% 1.50% 1.50%
3 Syracuse 0.95 90.99% 63.58% 36.06% 12.95% 12.95%
14 Indiana St. 0.63 9.01% 1.68% 0.21% 0.01% 0.01%
6 Xavier 0.88 47.44% 15.95% 5.65% 1.12% 1.12%
11 Marquette 0.89 52.56% 18.78% 7.09% 1.51% 1.51%
7 Washington 0.93 73.74% 38.08% 19.85% 6.20% 6.20%
10 Georgia 0.83 26.26% 7.70% 2.23% 0.33% 0.33%
2 North Carolina 0.94 90.65% 52.93% 28.75% 9.50% 9.51%
15 Long Island U. 0.61 9.35% 1.29% 0.16% 0.01% 0.01%

800.00% 400.00% 200.00% 99.98% 100.00%

Play-in 16 Texas San Antonio 0.35 73.55%

Alabama St. 0.16 26.45%

Play-in 12 UAB 0.83 34.40%

Clemson 0.9 65.60%


We can see by this analysis that, most importantly to Kentucky fans, UK is picked as the second most likely team to get to the Final Four.  Unfortunately, the 'Cats will have to go through the Ohio St. Buckeyes to get there, and the chances of the Wildcats getting to the regional final, much less winning it, are only 22.5%.  That's likely better than most 4 seeds, but it isn't exactly a number to celebrate.  OSU is almost 50/50 to finish in the Final Four.

Okay, does that mean that Kentucky is doomed? Well, no, because these games aren't played by computer or on paper, they are played on basketball courts, and a whole lot can happen in the surrounding games that can affect the outcome, including ease of victories, which can inspire confidence and produce unpredictable outcomes, officiating (though we hope it won't), injury (though we really hope it won't), and many other imponderables for which we cannot account.

Let's examine some of what I figure to be the highlights, as I play the tournament in my mind:

First Round:

(8)George Mason vs.  (9) Villanova:  This is the most even match in the region, as you would expect.  I suppose we have to give the Committee credit for getting this one right.

These two teams couldn't have finished the season more differently.  Mason won 16 of their last 17, and 'Nova is on a 5-game losing streak.  I wouldn't bet against Villanova, though, they have had some tough luck lately and are due for a good game.

(6) Xavier vs. (11) Marquette:  I like Xavier in this one.  Xavier has a really good guard in Tu Holloway and solid size that has given Marquette trouble all year.

(7) Washington vs. (10) Georgia:  I don't think Georgia is disciplined enough to play a slowdown game against the Huskies.  I think Washington will prevail, although I think this is a bit closer than the log5 would have us believe.  Georgia is capable of pulling the upset.  Still picking the Huskies, though.

Second Round:

(4) Kentucky vs. (5) West Virgina:  Yes, 'Cat fans, I think we are likely to face the 'Eers again.  This time, I don't think they can do enough on offense to hang with the deadly-shooting 'Cats.  But you can never count out a Huggins-coached team -- they are guaranteed to compete very hard.

(7) Washington vs. (2) North Carolina:  This would be the track meet of the year.  I think the Huskies are just a touch too tough for the Tar Heels, and I'm picking the upset.  These teams are a great matchup, and I am just dying to see this game.  I hope it happens.

Sweet 16:

(4) Kentucky vs. (1) Ohio St.:  Another stellar matchup that will draw every eye.  I think the 'Cats are a better defensive team, and they are longer and quicker even than the Buckeyes.  If UK can defend the three and double-team Jared Sullinger without giving up too many threes, I think we can take them.

Regional Final:

Scenario 1

(4) Kentucky vs. (7) Washington:  A rematch of the Maui Invitational first round.  This would be another great college basketball game that nobody would want to miss.

Scenario 2

(4) Kentucky vs. North Carolina:  A rematch of earlier this year with much-improved teams.  This would be a barn-burner between bluebloods, a game no self-respecting basketball fan would want to miss.

Scenario 3

(1) Ohio St. vs. (2) North Carolina:  This game would be interesting for its contrasts -- an execution team in Ohio St. versus a very fast, high-possession North Carolina team. I like OSU in this one, because I don't think Carolina can score enough to beat the Buckeyes, and the Tar Heels would be frustrated by the OSU pace.


Of course, this assumes way to much,  and is more an exercise in storytelling than actual analysis.  Still, I think this bracket will be the most closely watched of all, as it is unquestionably the toughest.  I hate the mess the committee made of this tournament, but now that it's done, we might as well look forward to what happens.  There is plenty of time in the off-season to call for changes.

One thing you cannot say about the East is that it will be boring or predictable -- quite the opposite. This region will almost certainly, barring surprising early upsets, produce more fireworks than any other region.

If nothing else, we basketball fans have the potential to be treated to some of the most dramatic an consequential games of the season, all in one 16-team mini-tournament. Does that make up for all the mistakes made in selection and seeding?

Who knows? Maybe.