Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bracket Projection: 12/27

The very first Crisler Spider-Man Bracket is here! Big thanks to to my known friend and trusted agent Ryan Teich, who threw together some great VBA code that allows me to actually do these projections at a fast enough pace that will make them a regular installment on this blog for the rest of the season. A few quick notes before we get to the actual bracket:

Some seeds are weird - You may wonder why, for example, Indiana and Minnesota are both 7 seeds, when common sense tells you that Indiana is much better. The answer to almost any question about weird seeds is RPI. Some teams (like Indiana) played a few high profile games in between walkovers against the dregs of Division I. This leads to a very low RPI that will certainly rise during conference season. Big Ten teams tend to schedule this way (look no further than Ann Arbor), and it has hurt their seeding over the years. Maybe next year they'll learn their lesson. Until then, you'll see a lot of low seeds for Big Ten teams, despite the projection putting eight teams in from the conference.

The regions are just for fun - Brackets are evaluated based purely on seeding, and how close my seed predictions are to the actual thing. I have them presented in regions just for the fun of it, so we can use our imaginations to see what a real bracket might look like. There's no consistency for the committee in choosing which regions get play-in games, and sometimes they aren't even 11 seed play-ins, so anything could happen. Regardless, you can still have fun imagining a Michigan-Notre Dame rematch with the winner playing Kentucky.

Here is the first bracket. You can compare it to Bracket Matrix for a sanity check. I'll be contacting them shortly to see if I can get my picks included in their database. Most of my seeds are pretty close to their averages; some are a bit off. The bold city names at the top of each column are the locations of the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

1 Villanova Louisville Baylor Gonzaga
2 North Carolina Kentucky Duke Kansas
3 UCLA Creighton Butler Virginia
4 West Virginia Arizona Florida Xavier
5 USC St. Mary's Oregon Purdue
6 Wisconsin South Carolina Florida State Cincinnati
7 Minnesota Notre Dame Arkansas Indiana
8 Virginia Tech Maryland Miami FL Clemson
9 TCU Oklahoma St. Seton Hall SMU
10 Iowa St. Michigan Northwestern Texas A&M
11 Pittsburgh Wake Forest Wichita St. UT Arlington
11 VCU Illinois
12 Monmouth Middle Tennessee Dayton UNC Wilmington
13 Chattanooga Tennessee St. Valparaiso Fort Wayne
14 Vermont Winthrop Akron San Diego St.
15 Princeton Florida Gulf Coast Lehigh Texas Southern
16 Wagner North Carolina Central Sam Houston St. Long Beach St.
16 North Dakota Cal St. Bakersfield

1 seeds? Three of my four original 1 seed predictions are currently sitting on the 2 line. I expect Baylor to fall off after a few conference losses. Louisville has a better RPI than Duke right now, so they take a 1 seed that will be settled by the grueling ACC schedule. As for Gonzaga, they had been off my radar for most of the year, but they're currently undefeated and a significant favorite in every game except one the rest of the way, so they're actually a decent bet to hold on to that 1 seed the rest of the season. Finally, Villanova is a 1 seed in every single prediction I've seen, and currently have the best chance of being the #1 overall seed come March.

Big Ten? As mentioned earlier, the Big Ten is pretty under-seeded right now. It would be quite unusual for the highest Big Ten seed to be a 5 (the last time it happened was 2004, when a very down Big Ten only sent three teams to the tournament). I expect someone from the Wisconsin-Indiana-Purdue tier to climb their way up as they take control of the conference. Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, and Illinois will battle it out with fellow bubble teams Ohio State and Michigan State, who are currently on the outside looking in (not just because I'm a homer I promise). Just about any combination of those 7 bubble teams could make the tournament and I wouldn't be all that surprised.

Michigan? That's right, I just called Michigan a bubble team...for now. I truly expect them to work their way out of that label, possibly pretty quickly. Simply going through the motions of a Big Ten schedule will raise their RPI (which currently sits at 76), and Kenpom still has them as the fourth best team in the conference with a projected record of 10-8. Speaking of which...

10-8 and 11-7 are almost equally as likely. I would expect the difference between those records to lead to a difference in seeding, depending on the quality of that extra win or loss. Michigan starts off conference play relatively lightly, with three home games where they're reasonable favorites (Penn State, Maryland, Nebraska), and two road toss-ups (Iowa and Illinois). Going 4-1 or better over that stretch will be very important before their game in Madison, where the'll be a significant underdog. I'll certainly be watching them against the Hawkeyes on Saturday, hoping they can get off on the right foot in conference play.

Mondays seem like a good day for me to post these projections, so I'll stick with that, except in cases of extreme circumstance. Be sure to keep following along on Twitter for smaller updates throughout the week as the mild chaos of January college basketball begins.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Bracketology Update: 12/2

As expected, the ACC picked up their first win in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge since 2008, taking 9 out of 14 games from the Big Ten, including the most disappointing result, a 73-70 Virginia Tech comeback win over Michigan, the ramifications of which will be discussed in this post. First, we look at the one seeds, which are exactly the same.

1 seeds: Still Villanova, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas. The only notable thing that happened between these four teams was Duke's 9-point home win over Michigan State. The game was tied at halftime, but Duke's win probability never dipped below 75%. They did temporarily drop out of the #1 overall spot in Kenpom, being replaced by conference foe Virginia, but since then have reclaimed it and therefore can stay at as a 1 seed in my book. Meanwhile, let's check in with the conference after every team played a significant nonconference game this week:

Big Ten: It wasn't a particularly good week for the conference, but neither was it unexpected. The ACC is simply a better conference this year, and many Big Ten teams fell in close games to overmatched opponents. Let's take this opportunity to catch up with every team in the conference, since I usually omit a few teams that don't need to be talked about. Here's where they stand:

Wisconsin - 2 seed: Wisconsin won convincingly in a 17-point victory over Syracuse, who is now starting to look not quite as good as we originally thought. Regardless, the Badgers are still in very good shape at the top of the conference.

Indiana - 3 seed: Indiana got their second huge win of the season in a 76-67 home victory over North Carolina. They now have two top 10 wins and one 100+ loss, so they will be a difficult team to judge going forward. It appears #CHAOSTEAM is as alive in basketball as it is in football.

Purdue - 4 seed: The Boilermakers lost on the road to a very good Louisville team, which doesn't affect their outlook that much. However, they now sit at 0-2 against the top 50, so they will look towards a December 17th matchup against Notre Dame to find that elusive nonconference big win.

Ohio State - 5 seed: Similar to Purdue, the Buckeyes lost to heavy favorite Virginia but don't fall in seeding. They actually had the lead for much of the game, and improved their Kenpom ranking despite the loss.

Michigan State - 5 seed: As mentioned earlier, the Spartans lost to Duke, and with that, the miserable Michigan State athletics year 2016 is just about over. At 4-4 overall and 1-4 vs. the top 50, they look to finally regroup these next few weeks against much weaker competition (although they will have to do so without superstar freshman Miles Bridges).

Michigan - 6 seed: Much like the 2K Classic victory was not cause for overexcitement, the loss to Virginia Tech is not cause for doom and misery. It does, however, cause me to reset seed expectations just a bit, but not to lower than they were at the beginning of the season.

Maryland - 9 seed: After declaring them "mysterious" last week, I figured I should check out Maryland in their game against Pittsburgh. It went...not well. The Terrapins couldn't get much of anything anywhere on the court, losing by 14, and now need a win over Oklahoma State this week otherwise things start to look dicey.

Northwestern - OUT (barely): They beat Wake Forest, and The Dream is still alive and well! They were expected to win that game, so it doesn't move them into the tournament just yet, but it certainly doesn't hurt their chances.

Iowa - OUT: Still losing: this week lost to Notre Dame in a game that wasn't particularly competitive. This week they face Iowa State and things continue to look grim.

Minnesota - OUT: Despite losing to Florida State, the Golden Gophers have actually been steadily climbing the Kenpom rankings throughout the season and currently have the same projected final record as Maryland. I'm still skeptical, but I'll certainly be keeping an eye out. This week they play Vanderbilt in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for some reason.

Illinois - OUT: A home win against North Carolina State is nice, but the Illini are still going to end up with way too many losses to be in tournament consideration. If they can somehow win this week against VCU in Miami, maybe we'll start talking.

Nebraska - OUT: Lost to Clemson this week, now have lost three in a row, and in-state rival Creighton comes to town this week, so things still are not looking too good for the Cornhuskers.

Penn State - OUT: One of the five Big Ten wins actually came from the second-worst team in the conference when Penn State beat Georgia Tech, a team even worse than them. Congratulations, but you're still not coming close to making the tournament.

Rutgers - OUT: They are very bad. Not as horrifically bad as they were last year, but awful nonetheless. For some reason they had to play Miami (FL) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and it went about as poorly as you'd expect. Unless they pull some crazy upset later in the season, this may very well be the last time I talk about Rutgers basketball this season. The end.

Michigan Update: The graphs didn't lie, they just picked a smaller bar than we would have liked. Virginia Tech is a bubble team, and losing at home to them doesn't look good, but I think in the end Michigan will end up with enough quality wins in the Big Ten to be just fine. Here's what the graphs have to say about that:
We finally have a bar in the nonconference graph that's above 50%, and that's at 10-3. If you remember my preseason post, that was originally the number of wins with the highest probability, at that time around 30% likelihood. Just like last week, the UCLA game appears to be a loss, and the rest appear to be wins. 11-7 is still the most likely Big Ten record, and the graph looks quite similar to how it looked two weeks ago, which is still better than it looked at the beginning of the season.

As for this week, Michigan plays Texas on Tuesday (your friendly neighborhood webslinger will unfortunately not be in attendance), and this game is pretty close to a must win if they want to stay off the bubble this year. Texas is the first team in the 50-100 range the Wolverines have faced, and it's very important to show the committee that you can take care of business against teams of that tier. Even after the VT loss, Kenpom still has Michigan as an 81% chance to beat the Longhorns. Let's hope they can bounce back, and when we come back next week, we'll be looking at their last tough nonconference game on the road against UCLA. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bracketology Update: 11/28

I normally plan on doing these posts on Fridays, but there was a holiday and a football game that I think most of you cared more about than a fake superhero predicting sports events that won't happen for another three and a half months. Anyways, we're back, with a decently shaken up Big Ten, and a forthcoming post encouraging you not to overreact to big wins or losses, but to slightly shift expectations depending on what each team has done. But first we'll jump into the very top of the bracket, where things look boring and similar:

1 seeds: My 1 seeds remain the same with Villanova, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas. Villanova defeated a few top-100 teams in Charleston, and then traveled home to face...Charleston. They're still rolling. Duke is still solidly in here, but I really would be safer just having "ACC Champion" as my 1 seed, since Virginia and North Carolina look very strong as well. One of them will be a 1 seed, and for now we're going to keep guessing Duke until anything indicates otherwise. Kentucky and Kansas got a few more wins against undermatched competition.

Big Ten: In the conference, things appear to have moved a bit. As a generally cautious predictor during nonconference play, I tend to move the needly slowly with regards to where I think a team will land. We will also find out a lot more about our conference this week during the always entertaining ACC-Big Ten Challenge, with many of the matchups within the challenge being mentioned in the following section. Here's where things currently stand:

Wisconsin: 2 seed - The Badgers defeated Tennessee and Georgetown before falling to a very good North Carolina team in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. This week they play a tough Syracuse team at home. A loss there would cause me to question me keeping them this high, but for now they remain a solid 2.

Indiana: 4 seed - The overtime loss to #119 Fort Wayne could really end up hurting the Hoosiers come Selection Sunday. Those are the type of "bad losses" that usually bump a team down a seed (one of the reasons the Big Ten champs were a 5 seed last year), so I will do the same. However, a win at home against the Tar Heels on Wednesday could potentially put them back where they were before this loss.

Purdue: 4 seed - No big games, but their outlook relative to the rest of the conference has improved slightly, especially according to Kenpom, where they sit at 15th. They face a very difficult matchup with Louisville on Wednesday.

Michigan: 5 seed - A lot to discuss in the Michigan-specific section, but a big win over SMU and a big loss to South Carolina have caused confusion over how good Michigan actually is. My enthusiasm is strong enough to bump them up a seed, but I'm still keeping my optimism in check.

Ohio State: 5 seed - Nothing new here, although they will probably get their first loss of the season on the road against Virginia on Wednesday.

Michigan State: 5 seed - It was an eventful week for the Spartans, who nearly lost at home to #86 Florida Gulf Coast, got shut down by Baylor by 15 points, and then upset a pretty good Wichita State team. This week they face the nearly impossible task of defeating Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. MSU is still a pretty good team, but they're on track to finish the year with too many losses to be in a very favorable seeding position at the end of the season.

Maryland: 7 seed - Still hard to get a read on Maryland, but they keep on winning against decent competition, so I'll keep on moving them up until I find it necessary to do otherwise. This week they beat Kansas State, and next week they play Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State, which will provide two more challenging, but winnable matchups for this mysterious team.

Northwestern: OUT (barely!) - Northwestern has been the pleasant surprise of this early basketball season; this week they beat #65 Texas by 19 and lost by just 4 to #29 Notre Dame. Could this be the year the Wildcats finally make the Big Dance? I'm still skeptical, but I'll be watching closely to see if they can get a few more big wins.

Iowa: OUT - The Hawkeyes put up just 41 points against Virginia's always fearsome defense, and then got upset by Memphis, surrendering 100 points. This could be a rough year for them.

Nebraska: OUT - The Cornhuskers got a nice win over a good Dayton team before falling to UCLA. That's not a bad start, but they have a tough stretch coming up with 4 of their next 5 games coming against top 40 teams.

Illinois: OUT - Illinois finds themselves with a very bad loss at home to #107 Winthrop, a game where they led 70-62 with 3 minutes left before giving up an 8-0 run and falling in overtime. They followed that up with losses to West Virginia and Florida State that weren't even competitive. They could also be in for a rough year.

As for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, I thought it would be fun to put together a win probability graph for the conference as a whole. The ACC won the first 10 meetings, but haven't won outright since 2008, with the Big Ten winning 5 of the last 7 with two ties. Here's how the Big Ten looks to do this year:

It is not good. There is a 74.1% chance the ACC wins outright, only a 10.4% chance the Big Ten wins outright, and a 15.5% chance of a tie. The evidence is overwhelming that the ACC will break their winless streak this year, as the Big Ten is favored in just 5 of the 14 games (fortunately, Michigan is actually the single most likely Big Ten victory at 70% in their home game against Virginia Tech). However, the ACC was heavily favored last year, and the Big Ten came away with the 8-6 victory, so let's hope the conference can do something similar this year.

Michigan Update: The model was correct that Michigan would go 1-1 against their two big matchups this week (they also added a win over lowly Mount St. Mary's to get their record to 5-1). The team was uncharacteristically awful at South Carolina, but the Gamecocks went on to beat a very good Syracuse team by 14 points, so it would appear they are quite a bit better than we expected. Kenpom now expects SC to finish 23-8, which would certainly put them in the tournament. This would then allow us to file Michigan's road loss to them as "not that big of a deal." The 2K Classic championship remains impressive, and there's a lot to like about the Wolverines going forward. Let's check in with our win probability graphs:
11-2 is looking more and more likely in nonconference play. That would probably mean a loss to UCLA and wins against everyone else. As for the Big Ten, things look ever so slightly better, with 11-7 still as the most likely scenario, this time at 20.1%. There was a moment there between the SMU and South Carolina games that 12-6 was the highest bar, but that seemed a bit optimistic, and has since gone back about to where it was last week.

This week, as mentioned earlier, the Wolverines face #39 Virginia Tech at home. A loss would be a disappointment and would cause us to reset expectations a bit. A win would put them at 3-1 against the top 50, which would put them well on their way towards a very solid resume.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bracketology Update: 11/18

The Armed Forces Classic, the Champions Classic, and a number of other matchups between power teams provided for an interesting week in college basketball. Here's where the bracketology stands after one week at the very top, in the Big Ten, and with our Wolverines:

1 Seeds: After all playing in marquee matchups the first week of the season, the 1 seeds remain unchanged with Villanova, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas. Villanova notched a big road win at Mackey Arena against Purdue on Monday, making it very likely they will enter conference play undefeated (they do have one more big nonconference test against Virginia, but that isn't until January 29). Two of my 1 seeds, Duke and Kansas, played each other, with Kansas pulling off the 77-75 win. I was ready to bump Kansas down after their overtime loss to Indiana, but they bounced back to get a huge win against the Blue Devils, and are still in line to get a 1 seed. Duke, on the other hand, is still doing just fine despite the loss, with games against Michigan State, Florida, and the grueling ACC schedule providing numerous chances to rack up some big wins. Kentucky asserted their defensive prowess by holding Michigan State to just 48 points, which is as good of a start as the Wildcats could have hoped for. Finally, I mentioned Oregon last week as a team that had potential to sneak onto the 1 line, but after a big loss to Baylor, they're knocked down a peg at least for the time being.

Big Ten: There were plenty of resume-effecting results in the Big Ten this week, but the overall seeding looks mostly the same. Here are a few notable things that happened around the conference:

Wisconsin: 2 seed - The Badgers lost their first big test of the season on the road against a good Creighton team. Their status here on the 2 line is a bit shakier than it was a week ago, but I expect them to rebound and still end up with an impressive resume.

Indiana: 3 seed - The season began with a bang for Tom Crean's squad as they took down Kansas 103-99 in overtime. That's the type of win that the committee consistently rewards come Selection Sunday, which is why they are up to a 3 seed.

Michigan State: 4 seed - There's nothing resume-crushing about losing to Arizona and Kentucky to start the year, but the Spartan offense has struggled mightily thus far. Combine that with the toughest nonconference schedule in the Big Ten and you're looking at a slight decrease in seed projection.

Purdue: 5 seed - As mentioned earlier, Purdue fell in a tight matchup at home to Villanova. While that would've been a huge boost for their resume had they come away with a win, their expectations should be exactly as they were at the beginning of the season.

Ohio State: 5 seed - The Buckeyes have fallen a bit in Kenpom's rankings, but they still took care of business against Providence on Thursday, so I'll keep them right where I had them last week for now.

Michigan: 6 seed - Discussed in greater detail below. Thursday's huge win over Marquette made me extremely excited about the potential this season, but I'll hold it in for now. See the Michigan section below for greater detail.

Maryland: 8 seed - After picking up a big road win against Georgetown on Tuesday, Maryland gets a slight boost in projection. I still see them as a bubble team, but they will be an interesting team to watch as we learn more about the new pieces in their rotation this season.

Iowa: OUT - Iowa had their first chance to grab a big nonconference win on Thursday, but fell short in an 8 point loss at home to Seton Hall. The Hawkeyes have their work cut out for them now, but the rest of the preseason will provide more opportunities for key wins.

Penn State: Very OUT - Only mentioned in this section because they lost at home to #165 Albany, the Nittany Lions will not be making the tournament this year barring a miraculous turnaround. Their next game is against Duke, so...good luck.

Michigan Update: As mentioned earlier, the Wolverines' 18 point win over #31 Marquette has caused a lot of excitement among the fans, and not unrightfully so. DJ Wilson recorded his first career double-double in his first game as a starter, Mark Donnal scored 15 points off the bench, and Zak Irvin had a calm 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists while going 3/4 from beyond the arc. Most importantly, the defense held the Golden Eagles to 0.84 points per possession, prompting the commentators to wonder "how other teams will be able to handle Michigan's size," not sarcastically.  It's possible Marquette was overrated, but Michigan has certainly passed their first big test of the season with flying colors. Here is how the win probability graphs look right now:
Both Michigan's nonconference and Big Ten win projections have increased about 1 game, to 11-2 and 11-7, respectively. It should be noted that no Big Ten outcome still has more than a 20% chance of happening, so predictions are tough to make, but regardless, that is a good direction to head in. 

Michigan's next two matchups should give us more meaningful information, as they first face off with SMU tonight for the 2K Classic championship against a Mustangs team that has badly beaten Michigan each of the last two seasons. From there they travel south to face a decent South Carolina team in their first true road game. The model has it likely they will only win 1 of their next 2. Win them both in convincing fashion, and you will probably see fully unbridled enthusiasm from me in my next post. Until then, I look forward to watching these next two games to see if they can continue the momentum.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Methodology and Preseason Predictions

It's time for my full season preview, which will hopefully give a good example of the things I'll be talking about throughout the season. I'll begin by explaining a bit of my selection methodology, which will come into play once I start making full brackets, and from there I'll give some thoughts on what to expect nationally, in the Big Ten, and with Michigan basketball in particular.

METHODOLOGY NOTES: I'd like to give a quick overview of how I make my selections, and to use this time to remind you that my picks aren't necessarily who I think should be in the tournament, but rather who I believe the selection committee will choose, and where they will seed each team that makes it in. There are two main components taken into account when deciding if a team will get in and where they will be seeded:

-Rankings Factor: This is the starting point--a weighted average of the rankings systems the selection committee has stated that they take into account when making their selections. While the committee has said they have de-emphasized the RPI because it's stupid and flawed (okay maybe I said that last part), further research shows that the RPI is still the #1 factor used in determining where a team is seeded.

-Resume Factor: This is the much more inexact part of the science, but I'm always working on tinkering with my analysis to come up with a more scientific approach to comparing resumes. These are things like "Top 25 Wins," "W/L vs. RPI top 50," "Bad Losses," etc. and it's very difficult to discern how the committee values each of these things compared to each other. However, every selection they've made in past years sets a bit of a precedent, so my main method here is to compare a team's resume to that of teams from the past few years, to see how the committee likes to seed a team with a resume similar to that of the team in question.

As for evaluating how my bracket ends up doing, an explanation on bracket grading can be found here. Basically, a team correctly seeded is worth 6 points, a team whose seed is off by one is worth 4 points, and a team who is correctly picked to be in the tournament but off by more than one seed is  worth 3 points. Thus, a perfect score would be 408, the all-time record is 351, and 320 is considered a very good score. We'll see how things fare for me in my first season of bracketology.

SEASON PREVIEW: Because of the fact that most of my initial rankings factor is based on RPI, which isn't a very meaningful ranking system for the first weeks of the season and at this time doesn't even exist yet, it would be silly for me to publish a full-on preseason bracket, as it would entail me just wildly guessing where teams will fall. That being said, allow me to instead make just a few wild guesses relevant to your interests.

1 Seeds: Don't expect any hot takes or bold predictions here. My predicted 1 seeds are Duke, Villanova, Kentucky, and Kansas. Every preseason ranking you'll find has Duke as the best team in the country, and I see no reason to contend that. Villanova and Kentucky will both roll through their respective conferences and should find themselves on the 1 line as well. The last one is a bit of a tossup, and I expect Oregon to have a strong chance of snatching a 1 seed the way they did last year, but Kansas will have more chances to prove themselves with games against Indiana, Duke, Kentucky, and a strong Big XII conference.

Big Ten Preview: The Big Ten has sent seven teams to the tournament in each of the last two seasons under its new 14-team configuration, and that doesn't look to change this season. Here are my preseason projections for which Big Ten teams will make the tournament and what seed they will be:

Wisconsin - 2 seed
Michigan State - 3 seed
Indiana - 4 seed
Purdue - 5 seed
Ohio State - 5 seed
Michigan - 6 seed
Maryland - 9 seed

Penn State

Wisconsin is the most experienced team in the league and looks like an early favorite to win the conference. Michigan State, on the other hand, has a talented group of freshmen that figure to improve as the year goes on, but inexperience and a very difficult nonconference schedule will keep them just outside the 1 or 2 seed zone. Regardless, expect to roll your eyes at every expert as they all pick the Spartans to win it all come tournament time. Down at the bubble, Maryland and Iowa both look set up to backslide after impressive seasons last year. My guess is that the experience of Melo Trimble running the show at Maryland will keep them in the tournament, and the utter lack of talent returning at Iowa will put them on the outside looking in this season.

Michigan Preview: I have Michigan as a slightly optimistic 6 seed. I see them as a team that hovers in that 6-8 range most of the season, but it's not hard to see them ending up as a 6. This is a chance to try out my fancy new cumulative wins calculator, which takes win probabilities for individual games provided by Kenpom, runs all the different scenarios while adding up the win totals for each scenario, and graphing them based on the probability of the team getting each number of wins.
This is Michigan's nonconference record distribution, which shows they have about a 30% chance of going 10-3 over their first 13 games, with a 25% chance of going 11-2. They have chances to build their resume with top 50-ish games against Marquette, Pitt or SMU, Virginia Tech, Texas, and UCLA. Going 3-2 for those five games would be a great start to the season. As for the conference schedule, things become a bit tougher to predict:
10-8 is the most likely outcome, but even that is only at 20%. And records as extreme as 8-10 or 12-6 still have probabilities in the 10-15% range. As Michigan fans have known for the past few seasons, things like injuries, unexpected improvement or regression out of specific players, or wacky nights where guys have unusually good or bad shooting performances can have a huge affect on final conference records.

All that being said, I like to look at this graph and see that Michigan has about a 62% chance of getting 10 or more conference wins. Tack on another game or two in the Big Ten Tournament and I see Michigan going something like 22-11 with around 8 top 50 wins and rankings in the low to mid 30s. That is a resume I feel very comfortable placing as a 6 seed based on previous selections by the committee. 

I'll be giving updates on the national picture, the Big Ten picture, and details about where Michigan is at with regards to the NCAA Tournament approximately every week throughout the season. Be sure to stay up to date, as the outlook can change dramatically from game to game. Once conference play starts is when the real fun happens and I start posting my full bracket predictions. Until then, enjoy the first week of this new season. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Welcome to Spidey's Bracket

Hello, it's me: your friendly neighborhood Crisler Spider-Man. You've seen me on TV at Michigan Basketball games, on Twitter predicting college football scores, and on my podcast talking about Michigan athletics. And now I'm here to bring you advanced college basketball bracketology all season long as I predict the 2017 NCAA Tournament field of 68. Here is a bit of what you can expect on this analytical endeavor:

PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG: The overall purpose of this blog is to provide predictive information as to who's in and who's out come Selection Sunday next March. But anyone can give you that. The Bracket Matrix literally lists every major bracketologist and who they have in their bracket and at what seed, and come March you'll see Joe Lunardi on ESPN every five minutes telling you his "last four in" and "first four out." On the other hand, this blog aims to cater to the Michigan Wolverines community in providing the information most relevant to our interests. Here is how I plan on delivering that information:

BRACKET UPDATES: By far the most science-y part of this blog, and the reason for its existence in the first place, the bracket updates will provide insight into what we expect the NCAA Tournament bracket to look like. These will be weekly (hopefully) updates, beginning in January when we finish up non-conference play and have enough data for my bracket-predicting formulas to work. I'll post an explanation of my methodology on seeding teams sometime before the season begins.

GAMES RELEVANT TO YOUR INTERESTS (both past and future): This will be the part of the blog where I round up information around the country that has a significant impact on the bracket outlook and throw it together into regular posts. This will include big upsets that shake up the seeding predictions, teams moving their way up the ranks, and things of that nature. Since this blog focuses primarily on Michigan basketball, this section will also include Big Ten updates and resume evaluations of relevant conference opponents.

MICHIGAN RESUME UPDATE: This will obviously be the most Michigan-centric part of the blog, where we discuss what Michigan has done since the last update, how that effects their tournament resume, how they are faring according to the various ranking sites used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and what they have to do going forward. A lot of the motivation for creating this blog comes from last season's Michigan squad, who some experts argued had no shot of making the tournament while others claimed they were a lock. That frustration in not knowing what to expect led me to research the selection process in depth and develop tools for predicting what the field of 68 is going to look like.

Obviously this is a very imprecise process and I'm new to the field, but I believe this site can become a helpful tool to the Michigan basketball community as the season unfolds and we prepare ourselves for the best postseason in all of sports. Go Blue!