Gabe Avins won a state high school basketball championship in California. The junior at the University of Pennsylvania has graciously agreed lend his basketball wisdom and analytics prowess to The Power Rank. Moreover, he endorses our interactive bracket with the win probabilities for each team to make each round. This is his first post.
The rank and rating next to each team name is from The Power Rank college basketball rankings. The rating gives a predicted point spread on a neutral court against the average DI team (this year, Charleston Southern).
Ohio State (2nd, 17.8). Don’t let Sunday’s loss to Michigan State fool you—the Buckeyes are legit. In the week leading up to the conference final, Ohio State beat Michigan State in East Lansing (the only team to do so this year) and easily handled tournament bound Purdue and Michigan on a neutral court. Much of their success can be attributed to their stout defense, which ranks first in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency statistic and allows offensive rebounds on only 24.8% of possessions (best among NCAA tournament teams). The Buckeyes are no slouch on offense either, turning the ball over on only 17.4% of possessions (25th best in NCAA) and converting 53.8% of their 2-point field goals (12th best).
Prediction: Loss to Kentucky in the Championship Game.
Wichita State (8th, 14.0). Arguably the most dangerous of the mid-majors, Wichita State sits at 8th in The Power Rank and in the top 20 of Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings. This is a veteran bunch—their top five scorers are all seniors, headlined by do-it-all center Garrett Stutz and the sweet shooting Joe Ragland (50% 3FG). The selection committee did them no favors, however, putting them in the same half of the bracket as both Kentucky and Indiana. Look for the Shockers to get past Indiana and play Kentucky tough.
Prediction: Loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
Murray State (22nd, 11.6). The Racers probably have a legitimate gripe with the selection committee after receiving a #6 seed despite being the only team in the field with one loss. Isaiah Canaan is as dangerous as they come at the point guard position, leading an offense that ranks 9th in the NCAA in effective FG% and 5th in 3FG%. If they get by Colorado State, a third round game with Big East powerhouse Marquette looms. The Power Rank sees an incredibly close game here, predicting Marquette by 0.7 (essentially a toss up). However, from our interactive bracket, Murray State actually has a higher chance of making the Sweet 16 (38%) than Marquette (37.7%) since Marquette faces a tougher first round test in the winner of the Iona versus BYU game.
Prediction: Loss to Missouri in the Sweet 16.
Belmont (29th, 10.2). Belmont comes into the tournament riding a 14-game win streak that they will try to build upon in Nashville. The Bruins will look to ride their offense to a successful opening weekend; the team ranks 12th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency according to kenpom.com and sports a 55% effective FG% (good for 5th in the NCAA). Though the #3 seed knocks off the #14 seed more than 80% of the time historically, The Power Rank gives Belmont a 44.5% chance of scoring the upset and favors the Bruins over both of their potential second round opponents, SDSU and NC State.
Prediction: Loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16.
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