Comparing different Coin-Flip Matchups
According to ESPN’s “Who Picked Whom”, you can see what percent of people picked what teams in their brackets. Most teams are either commonly picked for or against, but then there are the toss-ups. Picking the winner is realistically the only chance you have at winning your bracket pool, but those coin-flip day-one matchups might be a difference-maker. In this article, I’ll give my picks and analysis on those toss-up games, and help you impress your friends and family.
No. 7 USC (57.8%) vs No. 10 Miami (42.8)
I think this game is a pretty easy pick. USC is a strong defensive team holding their opponents to 0.944 points per possession, while only allowing their opponents an eFG% of 44.7%. Miami’s offense is quite solid, but USC’s interior presence of Isaiah Mobley, Chevez Goodwin, and Max Agbonkpolo will limit Miami from scoring any easy baskets. Finally, Miami’s defense is ranked 157th in KenPom’s rankings, and I see them struggling to stop the Trojans in the paint.
No. 6 Colorado State (45.9%) vs No. 11 Michigan (54.1%)
Besides rebounding, Colorado State is statistically better than Michigan in all aspects of basketball. They play a very efficient style of basketball, using most of the shot clock in their possessions and working in lots of ball movement. Team Rankings “Decision Tree Model” gives CSU a 59% chance of winning, a lot higher than the general public’s 45.9%. Don’t let Michigan’s name convince you of something they’re not. Take the Rams in this one.
No. 6 Texas (47%) vs No. 11 Virginia Tech (53%)
Don’t let recency bias convince you that Virginia Tech is all that good. The Hokies do have a much more efficient offense than the Longhorns, but Texas has a mean defense. They ranked top 15 in the country in points per possession and turnover percentage. KenPom also believes that both of these teams are quite under-seeded as they have Texas ranked 15th and Virginia Tech ranked 23rd. Finally, when it comes down to the end of game situations, I trust Andrew Jones and Marcus Carr to hit a big shot over anyone on Tech.
No. 7 Ohio State (51.8%) vs No. 10 Loyola Chicago (48.2%)
Many college hoops experts are choosing Loyola as a trendy first-round upset. Everyone remembers Sister Jean and the Ramblers' great tournament runs over the past few seasons, but this team just isn’t as good as Loyola teams of the past. Ohio State is a significantly better offense than Loyola ranking top 20 in points per possession. Unlike Loyola teams of the past, they are far less careful with the basketball, ranking outside the top 200 in turnover percentage. Most importantly, Loyola’s defense is still very solid, but they don’t have as much of an inside presence as years prior. EJ Liddell should have a field day in the paint against Loyola, so I love the Buckeyes in this matchup. (Certainly no bias whatsoever.)
No. 8 San Diego State (48.3%) vs No. 9 Creighton (51.7%)
San Diego State has arguably the best defense in the country. They’re number one in points per possession, top five in opponent effective field goal percentage, and they’re great at getting their opponent to turn the ball over. Unfortunately for Creighton, they already struggle on offense, so scoring on this Aztec defense will be quite difficult. KenPom loves the Aztecs as well, ranking their defense as second best in the nation. This game will be a race to 50 points, and I think SDSU can create enough turnovers, and rebound well enough to send Creighton packing.
No. 8 Seton Hall (49%) vs No. 9 TCU (51%)
Every single stat points toward Seton Hall as the play. They score more efficiently and give up fewer points per possession on defense than TCU. Seton Hall is a better team according to KenPom and is given a 60% chance to win according to Team Rankings. With all that said, I love the Horned Frogs in this one. Jamie Dixon is building something down in Ft Worth, and I don’t believe in any teams from the Big East this season. My anti-Big East pick is TCU, but let it be known that all of the stats say to pick Seton Hall. I’ll leave you with a choose your own journey to close out these picks.
Those are my picks on all of the toss-up games this year. Keep in mind I’m very biased and very dumb, so follow my writing with caution. Gambling picks will start after the play-in games are all decided!
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