Sporting Charts

2013 NCAA March Madness Cheat Sheet

At this time of year, we all fill out our NCAA March Madness tournament brackets. The guy on the 11th floor in finance – the one who played Div II – he fills out one, maybe two. Your old middle school basketball coach fills one out too and he still refers to Kareem as Alcindor and extols the late John Wooden like he knows all the secrets to life. And the female intern who hangs out with the boys in the bull pen submits one. You know her. She pencils in the Siena Saints over Vandy because she thinks St. Bernards are cute. And don’t forget about President Obama and his bracket.

I analyzed round-by-round March Madness data since the field was first expanded to 64 teams for the 1985 tournament. I summarized my findings in an article titled “The Method in March Madness - Breaking Down The NCAA Tournament By The Numbers” which you will want to read if you fit any of the descriptions above.

Do you ever look at the back of the crossword puzzle book for the answers? Think of “The Method in March Madness” as the crossword puzzle and this article as the “back of the book”. So, if you trust me, I mean really, really trust me, you could proceed with reading my cheat sheet below, fill out your brackets and thank me later. I’ll take a coffee if you finish third in your pool, drinks are on you if you‘re runner-up and I won’t accept anything crazy if you win it all. How does a steak dinner sound?

Before I get into the results of my analysis, I have provided some information and data below to help you make your picks. I have listed every team that has qualified for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, their seed, their conference, whether it is a major or mid-major conference, their coach’s past tournament successes and the program’s tournament win-total during the past three seasons.

EAST REGIONAL

School

Seed

Conference

Category

Previous
Tourn.
Wins for Coach

 Tourn. Wins Over Past 3 Years

Indiana 1,2

1

Big 10

Major

7

2

Miami-FL 2,3

2

Atlantic Coast

Major

5

0

Marquette 1,2

3

Big East

Major

5

4

Syracuse 1

4

Big East

Major

43

6

UNLV 1

5

Mountain West

Mid-Major

0

0

Butler

6

Atlantic 10

Mid-Major

11

10

Illinois

7

Big 10

Major

3

1

North Carolina State 1

8

Atlantic Coast

Major

7

2

Temple

9

Atlantic 10

Mid-Major

2

1

Colorado

10

Pac-12

Major

1

1

Bucknell 2,3

11

Patriot

Mid-Major

0

0

California 1

12

Pac-12

Major

17

1

Montana 2,3

13

Big Sky

Mid-Major

0

0

Davidson 2,3

14

Southern

Mid-Major

3

0

Pacific 3

15

Big West

Mid-Major

2

0

James Madison 3

16

Colonial

Mid-Major

0

0

Long Island 3

16

Northeast

Mid-Major

0

0


1
Previous NCAA tournament champion.
2Won or shared their 2012-13 regular season conference title.
3Won their conference tournament in 2013. 

SOUTH REGIONAL

School

Seed

Conference

Category

Previous Tourn. Wins for Coach

Tourn. Wins Over Past 3 Years

Kansas 1,2,3

1

Big 12

Major

31

9

Georgetown 1,2

2

Big East

Major

8

1

Florida 1,2

3

Southeastern

Major

28

6

Michigan 1

4

Big 10

Major

8

1

Virginia Commonwealth

5

Atlantic 10

Mid-Major

6

6

UCLA 1,2

6

Pac-12

Major

19

1

San Diego State

7

Mountain West

Mid-Major

22

2

North Carolina 1

8

Atlantic Coast

Major

63

6

Villanova 1

9

Big East

Major

12

1

Oklahoma

10

Big 12

Major

14

0

Minnesota

11

Big 10

Major

29

0

Akron 2,3

12

Mid-American

Mid-Major

0

0

South Dakota State 2,3

13

Summit

Mid-Major

0

0

Northwestern State 3

14

Southland

Mid-Major

2

0

Florida Gulf Coast 3

15

Atlantic Sun

Mid-Major

0

0

Western Kentucky 3

16

Sun Belt

Mid-Major

1

1


1
Previous NCAA tournament champion.
2Won or shared their 2012-13 regular season conference title.
3Won their conference tournament in 2013.
 

MIDWEST REGIONAL

School

Seed

Conference

Category

Previous
Tourn.
Wins for Coach

Tourn.
Wins Over
Past 3 Years

Louisville 1,2,3

1

Big East

Major

42

4

Duke 1

2

Atlantic Coast

Major

78

8

Michigan State 1

3

Big 10

Major

38

6

Saint Louis 2,3

4

Atlantic 10

Mid-Major

1

1

Oklahoma State 1

5

Big 12

Major

1

0

Memphis 2,3

6

Conference USA

Mid-Major

0

0

Creighton 2,3

7

Missouri Valley

Mid-Major

1

1

Colorado State

8

Mountain West

Mid-Major

3

0

Missouri

9

Southeastern

Major

1

1

Cincinnati 1

10

Big East

Major

3

3

Middle Tennessee 2

11

Sun Belt

Mid-Major

0

0

St. Mary's

11

West Coast

Mid-Major

2

2

Oregon 1,3

12

Pac-12

Major

2

0

New Mexico State 3

13

Western Athletic

Mid-Major

0

0

Valparaiso 2,3

14

Horizon

Mid-Major

0

0

Albany 3

15

America East

Mid-Major

0

0

Liberty 3

16

Big South

Mid-Major

0

0

North Carolina A&T 3

16

Mid-Eastern

Mid-Major

0

0


1
Previous NCAA tournament champion.
2Won or shared their 2012-13 regular season conference title.
3Won their conference tournament in 2013.

WEST REGIONAL

School

Seed

Conference

Category

Previous
Tourn.
Wins for Coach

Tourn.
Wins Over
Past 3 Years

Gonzaga 2.3

1

West Coast

Mid-Major

14

3

Ohio State 1,3

2

Big 10

Major

20

8

New Mexico 2,3

3

Mountain West

Mid-Major

5

2

Kansas State 2

4

Big 12

Major

11

5

Wisconsin 1

5

Big 10

Major

16

5

Arizona 1

6

Pac-12

Major

9

3

Notre Dame

7

Big East

Major

6

1

Pittsburgh

8

Big East

Major

11

2

Wichita State

9

Missouri Valley

Mid-Major

1

0

Iowa State

10

Big 12

Major

1

1

Belmont 2,3

11

Ohio Valley

Mid-Major

0

0

Mississippi 3

12

Southeastern

Major

0

0

Boise State

13

Mountain West

Mid-Major

0

0

La Salle 1

13

Atlantic 10

Mid-Major

0

0

Harvard 2

14

Ivy

Mid-Major

2

0

Iona 3

15

MAAC

Mid-Major

0

0

Southern 3

16

Southwest Athletic

Mid-Major

0

0


1
Previous NCAA tournament champion.
2Won or shared their 2012-13 regular season conference title.
3Won their conference tournament in 2013.

THE FIRST ROUND*

*The first round is now technically the four games that open the tournament and whittle the field from 68 to 64. I’m sorry Mr. NCAA, but we all still call the opening Thursday/Friday games “The First Round”.

1. The 1 through 3-seeds are virtual locks to advance to the next round.

2. About 25% of 4-seeds are an unexpected miss – a possible sign of experienced coaches looking ahead.

3. A 5-seed will be upset two times out of every five; therefore, selecting two 12-seeds wouldn’t be unreasonable. You should be looking to pick 12-seeds from major conferences, picking against 5-seeds from mid-major conferences, or staying away from 5-seeds from major conferences with very little recent tournament success.

4. A 6 and 7-seed will be upset three times out of every five games and there are pretty much two upsets a year in the 8/9 match. Therefore, it might be prudent to select one or two 11 and 10-seeds and two 9-seeds.

5. Underdog schools from major conferences have had more success than those from the mid-majors.

THE SECOND ROUND

1. I wouldn’t be giving up on any 1-seeds yet.

2. The analysis suggests that you can start crossing off 7 and 13-seeds.

3. In The Second Round, the 2-seeds will win 68% of the time. The numbers seem to lean towards advancing a 10-seed if you are going to take a chance with a Second Round upset of a 2-seed.

4. Focus on the 10 through 12-seeds if advancing a high seed to The Sweet Sixteen.

5. Advancing two 10-12 seeds to The Sweet Sixteen would be a reasonable move.

6. 10 through 12-seeds from major conferences have a 58% winning percentage in The Second Round compared to 38% for mid-majors. If you do take a chance on a mid-major, teams from the Atlantic 10, Mid-American, Missouri Valley and West Coast conferences make up about two-thirds of the mid-majors moving on to The Sweet Sixteen.

THE SWEET SIXTEEN

1. Put an end to the Cinderella discussion. Only a small selection of upstarts has made it to The Elite Eight from a 10, 11 or 12-seed.

2. You should expect about six 1 through 3-seeds to advance and the remaining be filled out by the field.

3. Move forward any 1 or 2-seeds left in your bracket.

4. 3-seeds have only won about half of their Sweet Sixteen battles; however, their success depends on the level of their opponent. The 3-seeds are 40% versus 2-seeds and they win 64% of their Sweet Sixteen games when facing a higher seed.

5. Very little disparity between the success of 4 and 6-seeds and that of 10 and 11-seeds. The key determining factor is the likelihood of the higher seeds moving on even further and 4 through 6-seeds advance into The Final Four much more often.

6. There is a direct relationship between the past performance of the team’s head coach and how successful a team will be in The Sweet Sixteen.

THE ELITE EIGHT

1. Add one major conference tournament champion and one major conference regular season title holder among your quartet.

2. A certain parity now exists amongst the top four seeds.

3. The confidence of schools above a 4 seed is growing as they have claimed victory in 40% of Elite Eight battles over the past ten years.

4. You shouldn’t advance any mid-majors past this point.

THE FINAL FOUR

1. The prior year’s tournament winners have found it difficult to make it to The Final. Last year’s champion (Kentucky) didn’t not qualify for the 2013 tournament.

2. The composition of The Final is typically made up of 1, 2 or 3-seeds that belong to a major conference.

3. The highest seed to ever advance to The Final was an 8 seed. No 7-seed has ever even qualified for The Final Four and 6-seeds have only appeared in The Final twice themselves.

4. 89% of teams that reach The Final come from major conferences.

5. Narrow your final two teams to schools from the ACC, Big East, SEC or Big 10.

6. Coaches with past tournament successes are generally a prerequisite for winning a Final Four game.

THE FINAL

1. Since 1985, only ten schools out of the 28 champions had never cut down the nets before. A first time champion occurred only six times over the past 20 seasons and only twice in the past ten.

2. All the major conferences have a .500 or better record in The Final with the exception of the Big 10 and the Big 8/Big 12.

3. Resist the temptation to go with the higher seed. Since 1985, a higher seed has beaten a lower seed in only six Finals and, of those six, only three games pitted teams with more than a one-seed disparity.

4. Just in case you have two teams in The Final with the same seed, look towards the recent three-year success of the program in determining a winner.

TIE-BREAKER

1. Most March Madness pools have a tie breaker for total points in the championship game. Since 1985, The Final’s average is 148 points with a median of 145.

2. The average points in all NCAA tournament games since 1985 are 142 with a median of 143.

Good luck everyone! And I’ll have a Kansas City strip steak, medium rare.


Bob Sullivan writes periodically for SportingCharts.com and can be followed on Twitter at @mrbobsullivan.