ECAC Tournament Odds: Who's the Favorite?

Eds. Note: In the haze of tens of thousands of words on the ECAC yesterday, this flew under the radar. To the front page!

The Patriot League tournament worked out much better than the ACC Tournament did with regards to my odds posts (though, I still had Colgate as the favorites to win the game against Lehigh, it was pretty close to a coin flip). Now, the ECAC Tournament kicks off -- as you can tell by the mounds of information for your viewing pleasure College Crosse boys have whipped up for you here -- I bring my goodies to the information feast. That is, of course, tournament title odds!

As always, numbers are based on a mixture of my two tempo-free models. One is using regressed shooting rates and one does not. Both are adjusted for schedules faced, then I get an average Pythagorean winning percentage which I use in these Log 5 tournament odds.

Let's jump right into it. Your odds graph looks as such:


You can click the image to enlarge.

Loyola: The Greyhounds are the top seed after finishing the ECAC campaign a perfect 6-0. Obviously, their reward is facing the fourth-seeded Denver Pioneers. Should be easy, until you consider that Denver could make a case for being the best team on a tempo-free basis in the conference. Oh, and the tournament is in Denver, so everyone's got a ton of travel except the bottom-seed. This has the makings of UPSET CITY written all over it. Because of the home field advantage, I have Loyola as 40.5% to even make it to the championship game. Should they do so, they're likely to face Ohio State (28% chance of happening) and a smaller chance of facing third-seed Fairfield (12.5% chance). Loyola would be favored over Ohio State, but it'd be close (57% favorites). Should Loyola take care of business, Fairfield seems to be the easier title game opponent with Loyola being favored in that matchup at 75%. Add it all up and the Greyhounds odds of taking the title back home are 25.4%.

Denver: The Pioneers finished just 3-3 in ECAC play, but that misrepresents their talents. Hell, their 8-5 record misrepresents their talents. My model indicates they are closer to a 10-win team than an 8-win team. We need just ask Duke how good Denver should be. Their three ECAC losses came by a total of five goals. Two were one goal games -- one of those were in overtime on the road against Fairfield and the other was in Jacksonville in the first weekend of the season to a very good Ohio State squad -- and the other was a 12-9 loss at home to Loyola. Denver's favored -- due to home field -- 59.5% to beat Loyola (basically a pick-'em game). Should they face the two-seed Buckeyes, they would be 66.3% favorites and they'd be 81.5% favorites over Fairfield. Add this all up and the odds of Denver inviting everyone to their fine city just to kick them in the face are 42.3%.

Fairfield: The Stags have a great record at 11-3. Unfortunately, my models view them much closer to a 7-7 team than one so dominant. They played a very soft schedule overall outside of conference play, with Bryant being the only opponent worth mentioning. That said, I have them as 31% to make it to the finals -- one out of every three times they'll beat the superior Ohio State -- so them making it isn't a total shock. Them winning it all would be. They're underdogs -- big time -- to both Loyola (25%) and Denver (18.5%). Add this all up and Fairfield are only given 6.5% odds to bring home the trophy and, more importantly, lock up an auto-bid to the national tournament they otherwise won't likely receive.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes, to me, just might be the least talked about top 15 team in the country. Perhaps that's just part of being an ECAC program that is damn good but lacks a deep national tournament run on their resume. Still, they are the 12th best team in the country in my rankings. They also have the easiest game in this tournament in the semis, so they have a 69% chance of playing for the title. Against Loyola, they'd be a small underdog -- 43% -- to win, and Denver's home field lowers OSU's chances against the Pioneers to just 33.7%. Still, their odds of winning the whole thing sit at 25.8% and that's just a hair better than the top-seeded -- and more nationally talked-about -- Loyola Greyhounds. Bet no one else will write that in anticipation of this conference tournament.

This should be a fun one to watch unfold.

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