The first two rounds of the NCAA tournament were filled with upsets and last-minute heroics, but the top-seeded teams all made it through the the Sweet 16.
For the 1st time since 2012, all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. pic.twitter.com/NE1T1HGG8k
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 21, 2016
According to the updated Pomeroy college basketball ratings, No. 1 Kansas is in the region with the stiffest competition, where the remaining teams average a .907 true-talent win percentage, roughly equal to a bracket full of teams playing at the level of the No. 3 Miami Hurricanes. The Jayhawks’ road to the Final Four will require them to play No. 5 Maryland (.871, 22nd highest rated team by Pomeroy) and then the winner of No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 Miami, who average a .925 rating.
No.1 North Carolina gets the benefit of playing in the East, the easiest bracket as of today, with the average team remaining similar to ousted-No.9 Connecticut (.857 true-talent win percentage), who lost to Kansas in the round of 32. The Tar Heels have a tough matchup when they face No. 5 Indiana (.902, 13th) but then would get a softer opponent in either the Fighting Irish or Badgers.
The Midwest, despite having two double-digit seeds remaining in No. 10 Syracuse and No. 11 Gonzaga, avoids being the softest region. This is largely due to the difference between Pomeroy ratings and the RPI, the metric in part utilized by the NCAA selection committee during the tournament seeding process. As discussed elsewhere, the RPI is one of the worst barometers of talent in this year’s NCAA tournament. There were literally 48 better power metrics than the RPI for predicting the Sweet 16. So while the committee may have seeded Syracuse and Gonzaga so low because of the RPI, Pomeroy ranks the Orange No. 28 and the Zags No. 17.
The East, meanwhile, has a huge drop off from the Tar Heels to the rest of the bracket. No. 5 seed Indiana, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 7 Wisconsin rank 13th, 35th and 31st, respectively, in the Pomeroy ratings.
ESPN’s BPI, a team rating system that accounts for the final score, pace of play, site, strength of opponent and absence of key players, has the West and South regions tied for most difficult, with the Midwest and East still occupying the bottom. But their data is as of Selection Sunday, before the tournament started.
Meanwhile, the oddsmakers in Vegas are making their opinions known who they think will be one of the last teams standing, with North Carolina and Kansas each being given a 19-percent chance to win the NCAA championship, followed closely by Virginia (16 percent). Oregon, meanwhile, is being given a six percent chance, the same as No. 2 Oklahoma.