In 2009, I crunched a lot of numbers before the Madness begins, pertaining to the performance of power-conference teams that win or are runner-ups in their conference tournaments.
Favorite team based on profiles -
In 2007, I started doing profiles of the top conferences before the tourney begins.
In 2007, I adopted Maryland as my favorite statistical profile... and they lost in the 2nd round.
In 2008, I adopted Notre Dame as my favorite statistical profile... and they lost in the 2nd round.
In 2009, I adopted BYU (lost in 1st round) and West Virginia (lost in 1st round).
In 2010, I adopted Baylor, and they did make the elite 8 (finally, did something right!)
This year? I'm adopting Washington and Belmont. Yes, Sports Illustrated already wrote two (yes, TWO!) articles adopting Belmont as a Cinderella before the tourney began... so they will be my darkhorse profile. Washington will be my more serious profile.
Best 1st round matchup -
Butler vs. Old Dominion - These are the two mid-majors I was most excited to see the tournament... so of course they are playing each other... then they have to play Pitt in the next round.
Wisconsin vs. Belmont - Wisconsin's been in some kind of swoon... and now they have to deal with Belmont who shoots great 3s, has a great backcourt, and uses 11 players to run as much as possible.
Most anticipated 2nd round matchup -
So far, only 3 of my 8 anticipated matchups have happened.
In 2010, my anticipated matchup was Georgetown vs. Tennessee. It didn't happen because the Ohio Bobcats, seeded 14th, absolutely demolished Georgetown in the 1st round.
In 2009, my anticipated matchups were Syracuse vs. Arizona State (which did happen), and West Virginia vs. Kansas (which didn't happen, because 11-seeded Dayton knocked out West Virginia).
In 2008, my anticipated matchups included two: Indiana vs UNC (where Indiana lost badly in the 1st round to Arkansas) and Notre Dame and Washington State (which actually did happen).
In 2007 my “anticipated” matchup actually happened [Boston College vs. former Big East rival Georgetown], but 2007’s 2nd round matchups were relatively weak.
In 2006, my matchup [Mich. St. vs. UNC] never happened as George Mason wiped out Mich. St. then UNC.
In 2005, I didn’t specifically anoint one matchup, but I alluded to the Kansas-Wisconsin game, but Bucknell took out Kansas in the 1st round to prevent that from happening.
This year, I'm going with 5-Arizona vs. 4-Texas. Texas was supposed to be a 2-seed everyone thought, but they've been punished severely down into the 4-spot. This should be a great game though, assuming both teams make it there.
Darkhorse - Temple! - One of these teams has to go to the Elite 8: Cincy/Missouri/UConn/Temple/Penn St/SD state. If you would have told me that a week ago, I would have laughed. So... I will go with Temple.
Region of Death- East Region (Ohio State's). Just brutal. George Mason vs. Villanova in the 1st round... and both were ranked last week, but one has to win then play Ohio State afterwards. We could have Ohio State, Kentucky, Syracuse, and UNC all in the sweet 16... plus we still have possible cinderalls in Xavier (who has made the Sweet 16 for the last three years, no joke), and Washington, who's computer profile is amazing (as said above).
Cinderella Final 4 Team - I'm historically bad at this... (2010 - Baylor (lost in Elite 8); 2009 - W. Virginia - lost in 1st; 2008 - USC - lost in 1st; 2007 - Maryland - lost in 2nd; 2006 - UCLA - 2-seed, made Final 4; 2005 - Utah - 6-seed, made Sweet 16).
This year, I'm going with: 4-seed Kentucky... if Ohio State were to fall, this would be a team to pick as a Cinderella.
Now, on to the applicable rules of engagement!
Rule #1: All (4) 1-seeds will NOT make Final4 (except in 2008)-
Sadly, Ohio State has the most hoops to jump through, as stated above. However, the next one-seed that looks like they could hit some trouble would be Pitt. They will have tough games in their 8-9 (Butler-Old Dominion) and they could face any of Kansas St, Utah St, Wisconsin, or Belmont who have all had fantactic seasons. This is before the elite 8 even occurs, so it could be troublesome.
Rule#4: A 12-seed always beats a 5 (except in 2000 and 2007)-
West Virginia is susceptible... they get the winner of UAB/Clemson. The UAB/Clemson winner should be excited (and they should be excited because neither of these teams were probably going to even make the tourney!). Kansas State vs. Utah State could also be really interesting.
Rule#6: There always is one conference w/ multiple teams in the final4 (except in 2007, 2008, and 2010) – It hasn't happened much lately, but here are some options:
Ohio St, Duke, Purdue, Pitt (Big 10)
UNC, Duke, Kansas, Pitt (ACC)
Syracuse, Texas, Notre Dame, Pitt (Big East)
Kentucky, Texas, Kansas, Pitt (Big 12)
Rule#9: If you win your power conference tourney and you are NOT a top-10 team, you won't do well in the NCAA tourney:
In 2005, one team lost in the 1st round, the other in the 2nd round
In 2006, all 3 that qualified got bounced in the 1st round!
In 2007, one team qualified [Oregon], but they made the elite 8. I still say Oregon had an easy draw though.
In 2008, Pitt (Big East) and Georgia (SEC) are the only teams that qualified. Georgia only had a 14-seed and got bounced by Xavier. Pitt got a 4-seed and was upset by Michigan State in the 2nd round.
In 2009, 4 teams qualified: Purdue (sweet 16), Missouri (elite 8), USC (2nd round), and Miss St. (1st round loser as 13-seed).
In 2010, one team qualified (Washington)... and they went on a sweet 16 run as an 11-seed.
That's a total of 12 teams qualified... and only 4 made it to the sweet 16 or further, with 5 losing in the 1st round. When I crunched the numbers for the years going all the way back to 1992 (for those conferences that had tournaments): 30 teams qualified, 1 won the championship (11th-ranked Florida in 2006), 1 went to the Final 4 (Miss. St in 1996 in a major surprise). 4 made it to to the sweet 16 or Elite 8, with TWELVE losing in the 1st round (though 5 of those were unranked conference tournament winners).
This year, we have these teams qualifying as conference tournament winners: Kentucky (SEC), Washington (PAC-10), UConn (Big East).
Rule #10: The favorite almost NEVER survives the “Region of Death” (UNC in 1998, UNC in 2005, Duke in 2004 made the Final 4, UNC in 2008 made the Final 4), and certainly will never win the whole tournament.
I went back through 1997 and tried to determine what my “region of death” was (a subjective assessment indeed). Out of the years I analyzed, only 4 #1 seeds made it through, and only 1 won the whole damn thing (UNC – 2005). Funny, because this year, Ohio State has drawn the "region of death"... but they could be the second team to possibly pull it off.