Saturday, March 20, 2010

St. Mary's vs Villanova: Performance charts can be enlightening

On the surface, little St. Mary's, a 10 seed from the West Coast Conference against mighty Villanova, a 2 seed from the vaunted Big East should be a mismatch, but astute followers of college basketball know it very well might not be although the betting public has it as a 5 point game.  Looking at the data and particularly my computer's performance charts might lead one to believe that is still way too many points.

Here is the chart for Villanova.

From this we can see that they were a very good team for a good 2/3 of the year, but the last third didn't do so well even when they did win.  The result is that their rating and ranking by the computer has fallen all the way to #17.  You may argue that they played their toughest games down the stretch and that may be true, but we just saw several other of these tough opponents do poorly in the first round which doesn't help them.

St. Mary's on the other hand has a much different looking chart.

Here we see they have finished very strong with three of their best games of the year in their last 3 outings.  Many of their games have been less "meaningful" (smaller dots) as they've played weaker competition, but the last three have reasonably large dots indicating they are playing well against the best they've come up against all year.

What does this mean for their game?  The computer isn't quite ready to outright predict the upset as Villanova is still rated ever so slightly ahead, but it should be close.

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