A new measure of success for NCAA tournament teams
At right, you can see James' math predictions and the actual results of all first-round games:
Pretty darned accurate. It is fairly interesting to me that the two seeds who have really overperformed are the ninth seed and the 12th seed. The 12th seed makes some sense to me because, best I can tell, that's where the line where the tournament tends to put two kinds of teams:
The No. 9 seed beating the No. 8 more than half the time is probably just an indication that once you get that far down in the seeding (The 8 and 9 seeds would represent teams ranked 29th to 36th) there's really not much to separate the teams, plus the No. 9 seeds have that little extra benefit of being considered "underdogs."
Of course, one of the big reasons that No. 1s have outperformed the math is because they rarely have to face the hardest route available. Take Kansas last year. The Jayhawks beat No. 16 Portland State, then No. 8 UNLV, then No. 12 Villanova, then No. 10 Davidson. A No. 1 seed facing that much easier route should make the Final Four 63 percent of the time. So that's how the thing works. A brilliant reader asked just how hard George Mason's route was in 2006. Mason was a No. 11 seed, and it had to beat a No. 6, a No. 3, a No. 7 and a No. 1 to get to the Final Four. According to the system the percentage chance on that is .34 percent, meaning it was roughly a 294-to-1 shot.