Mirlis' Final Four-mula

March 23, 2006



By Eric Mirlis


Eric Mirlis is Senior Editor for CSTV.com and covers various collegiate sports.
E-mail here!


Four for four.


Last year, I used the history of team's seeding in the Sweet Sixteen to determine which teams would make the Final Four. I correctly predicted all four schools that advanced.


The numbers obviously don't lie.


So, it is time to get out the history books and the logic formulas once again. For those whose original brackets are busted, feel free to use this as your guide to who will win.


First, the parameters... The sample I will draw my information from starts with the 1979 NCAA Tournament, the first one that used the seeding method. But, there is one anomaly in the Final Four since 1979: in 1980, there were no No. 1 seeds. That is the only time it has ever happened, so for the purpose of this exercise, that year is being excluded.


As a reminder (not that anyone really needs one, of course), here is the field entering the Sweet Sixteen and their seeds:


Atlanta Regional: Duke (1), Texas (2), LSU (4), West Virginia (6)

Oakland Regional: Memphis (1), UCLA (2), Gonzaga (3), Bradley (13)

Washington DC Regional: UConn (1), Washington (5), Wichita State (7), George Mason (11)

Minneapolis Regional: Villanova (1), Florida (3), BC (4), Georgetown (7)


Now, let's start eliminating some teams...


·          No 13 seed has ever reached the Final Four. Bradley is out, but let's hope they stay in their game against Memphis longer than they are in this competition.

·          There has never been a Final Four with four No. 1 seeds. At least one must be eliminated.

·          Memphis and Villanova have each made a Final Four appearance, both in 1985. However, Memphis was a 2 seed, `Nova was the 8th-seed. That Wildcat team may have been one of the ultimate Cinderellas, but this time around, it won't be a fairy tale for either of these teams. Since neither has been there as a No. 1, both are now done.

·          UCLA is one of the most storied programs in college basketball history, but has never been to the Final Four as a 2 seed. Time for the Bruins to hibernate. We now have our first Final Four participant, as Gonzaga moves on to Indianapolis.

·          Gonzaga advancing with a No. 3 seed eliminates a lot of teams. Why? Because in years where a third-seed has gone to the Final Four, there has never been a higher odd-numbered seed there as well. So, a bunch of teams are now off the list: Washington, Wichita State, Georgetown and George Mason. And those eliminations make Connecticut our second Final Four team.

·          The Bulldogs knock a couple other teams out with yet another historical trend. Every time a No. 3 seed has gone to the Final Four, at least one seed number was represented twice. So, there must either be a second 1 seed, a second 3 seed or a pair of something else. Therefore, Texas and West Virginia can't advance.


Let's see where this puts us--


In: Gonzaga (3 - Oakland), Connecticut (1 - Washington)

Still Alive: Duke, and LSU (1, 4 - Atlanta); Florida and BC (3, 4 - Minneapolis)


Back to our show...


·          The only SEC team ever to make a Final Four as a No. 3 seed? Florida in 1994. BC is out, as the Gators take the Minny Regional. That also satisfies our pair of something that we needed.

·          One spot left. Duke or LSU - the game that kicks off the Sweet Sixteen...Did you know there has never been a Final Four with four odd numbered seeds? Never. So Duke is now out, leaving LSU the fourth spot in the field.


That gives us a Final Four of Connecticut, Gonzaga, Florida and LSU.


Before I go, I'll compare this to the Final Four I picked last week: Connecticut, Gonzaga, Texas and BC.


Looks like I'm hedging my bets. Of course, the numbers don't lie.



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