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The 2012 National Tournament: But NOW Who is the Favorite?

Last week, my odds picked a final four of Loyola, Notre Dame, Maryland and Colgate. Three out of four ain't bad. At the end of that article I picked against my odds in a couple games and went with Loyola, Virginia, Duke and Maryland. Again, three out of four. This week, I'm hoping to pick the national title game correctly.

As always, these odds are based on the Log 5 method, which is equivalent to the Odds Ratio. I have two models, both are possession-based and work off of offensive and defensive efficiencies. One model is raw data that is adjusted for schedule. The second model uses regressed shooting rates. Those are then used to create regressed offensive and defensive efficiencies and from there I adjust for schedule faced. A simple average the two Pythagorean Win Expectation's give me my overall rankings which I use in the odds that I'll present below.

With that said, your odds for Championship Weekend are listed in a nifty little bar graph.

2012nationaltournamentl_medium

You can click the image to enlarge.

Or, if you prefer a chart to a nifty bar graph:

Seed Team Finals Championship
1 Loyola 0.513 0.247
3 Duke 0.434 0.212
4 Notre Dame 0.487 0.228
Maryland 0.566 0.314

Hitting the teams in bullet point form!

  • Loyola Greyhounds - They dispatched the Denver Pioneers for the third time this season, quite a tough feat. It was a game that Loyola is likely kicking itself despite grabbing the 10-9 victory. They held a +12 possession advantage over the Pios, but had a tendency to get reckless, turning the ball over 16 times. Still, converting on four of their 10 extra-man opportunities helped them overcome a very efficient Denver offense. Moving to this weekend, Loyola will take on the slow-down game of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This is the pure definition of a 'pick-'em' game. I have Loyola with a Pythagorean Win Percentage of 0.781 and Notre Dame at 0.772 which equates to Loyola sitting with a 51.3 percent advantage to win. Should they win, they have a 24.7 percent chance to take home the hardware on Memorial Monday.
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish - The Irish ousted the defending champion Virginia Cavaliers 12-10 to earn their way to another Championship Weekend. They depressed the tempo to a 57-possession game where they scored on over 44 percent of their possessions. Virginia, for their part, were scoring at a 33.3 percent clip which is almost double what Notre Dame allowed before the game. Now they move to a team that is much more than a one-man show like the Cavaliers can be. Loyola possesses two dynamic scorers in Eric Lusby and Mike Sawyer who have 45 and 51 goals respectively. Add in Mr. Do Everything, Scott Ratliff, and the vaunted Irish defense will be tested. Right now, they are the slightest of underdogs to the top-seeded Greyhounds (48.7 percent to win). Should they beat Loyola, Notre Dame would be favored ever-so-slightly over Duke and would be underdogs to the Terrapins. Currently, there's a 22.8 percent chance that Notre Dame wins the title.
  • Duke Blue Devils - Duke demolished Colgate 17-6. Duke scored on almost 44 percent of their offensive possessions in the 68-possession contest and had a +10 possession margin. Add in Peter Baum's single point on the day, the Raiders 23 turnovers on 29 offensive possessions with Duke's offensive efficiency and you have the easy recipe for routing Colgate. Now, they turn their attention to conference foe, Maryland. The Blue Devils currently sit with a 43 percent chance to move on to the championship game. Should they make it there, they'll be underdogs to Loyola and Notre Dame, thus they have the lowest odds of all four teams to win the national title; just 21.2 percent.
  • Maryland Terrapins - The Terps beat second-seeded Johns Hopkins in a 55-possession game by holding a +7 possession margin. Maryland controlled 60 percent of the draws, won the ground ball battle by 11, and held Hopkins to just 16 total shots on 24 offensive possessions which is phenomenal. Hopkins only attempted 0.67 shots per offensive possession. For reference, Michigan was the worst team in terms of shots-per-possession, attempting just 0.77 per possession. No one else was under 0.85 (Canisius). This was an amazing defensive performance by Maryland who also prolonged their own possessions by controlling the ball for over 40 minutes. They are the top team left according to my ratings and as such hold the highest odds to win the tournament at 31.4 percent.

My system says to take Loyola (slightly) and Maryland to play for the title game with Maryland winning (about 55 percent favorites over the Greyhounds head-to-head). I thought hard about picking Notre Dame and Maryland to play in the title contest, but I think I will go with my odds generated by my tempo-free models and say we're looking at a Loyola-Maryland final.

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