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Sweet 16 Predictions
After wall to wall hoops for 4 days we have dwindled the field to 16, the "Sweet 16". Many teams we all expected to be here, are, such as Wisconsin, Duke, Kentucky and Ohio State, and as is the case every year, a few surprises, such as Richmond, Butler and Marquette. Our Score prediction model has performed well so far, picking a few upsets along the way as well as some big blowouts, so let's take a look how our score prediction model sees the Sweet 16.
As you might expect, our model has all the favorites winning. However, we all know that won't be the case when the games are played this week. So, according to our model, who has the best chance to pull a Sweet 16 upset?
The two most likely upsets would be the games where our model has the smallest margin of victory. Our model has Florida over BYU by 2, 74-72 and it also has Florida State by 3 over VCU, 65-62.
VCU stands out. We have written about recalculating power ratings based on how a team has played lately, specifically, over the last 5 games. Now, most tournament teams, at this point, are playing at or above their regular season rating, however, when you look at Virginia Commonwealth, you find what amounts to the hottest team in the country, playing well over 10 points above their regular season rating. When you combine that with that fact that our prediction model has the game close to begin with, you have all the makings of a nice solid play with VCU getting +4 over Florida State. (recalculating both teams ratings shows VCU winning straight up by 4 or 5 points)
Next up our numbers suggest that Butler won't be playing Cinderella for the 2nd consecutive year as they have Wisconsin rather easily, 70-56 as only a 4 point favorite. Likewise, our numbers suggest that UCONN is the better team and should prevail over San Diego State, although the margin there is much closer than the Wisky/Butler game. Our model has UCONN by 6 in a game Vegas has as pk. Rounding out the Thursday games, our model likes Duke over Arizona by 13 as a 9 point favorite.
Of the 4 games on Friday, our model comes in right around the number for most. It has North Carolina by 6 as a 5 point favorite and Ohio State by 6 as a 5 point Favorite. The margin on both of those games is such that an upset in either of those games certainly wouldn't surprise us.
We would be surprised however, if Richmond pulled the upset over Kansas. Shocked actually. Our model likes Kansas in that one by a score of 76-61 which makes Richmond's chances of an upset slim.
Of course there's more to picking pointspread winners than power ratings and prediction models, but just going by those alone, the plays that stand out would be Wisconsin, UCONN and VCU.
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