It’s March and the tournaments have started playing! We held our team meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings eating saucy chicken and watching 35 big screen TVs with various games going on. This is the greatest time of the year!
While chatting, we saw an interesting tweet put out by a fellow CBB aficionado, @EvanMiya about Oral Roberts and thought that his claim deserved a little deeper look.
In the tweet, he said, “Oral Roberts has all of the ingredients to be THE cinderella of March Madness:
- Leads the nation in 10-0 scoring runs per game. (31 total this year)
- Shoots threes (top 30 in 3P% and 3PA rate)
- Top 40 offense in the country
- Max Abmas is a veteran (22 PPG this year)”
Those are some solid points and ORU has a legitimate argument that they could be big this year. Even Ken Pom (@KenPomeroy) kicked in that he believes this ORU team deserves an at large bid but won’t get one because of big conference bias by the Selection Committee. They are talented, they have a solid resume and they probably deserve a chance to prove that.
But the original question was, do they have the ingredients to be a cinderella?
Like all financial commercials, let’s start this out by saying that past performance does not indicate future success. But there is a really strong correlation. So lets dig into this massive mine of data and see if we can prove that those particular cherry-picked criteria for Cinderella bear out.
We started out by eliminating all Major and Mid Major conferences, so that the Cinderella’s could be starting from and competing on the same plane as ORU. Then we adjusted for top offenses and filtered for the 3P% and 3PA rate.
I do really like the assertion of 10-0 runs in a game being significantly important. It reminds of the old Arkansas “40 Minutes of Hell” days where Coach Nolan Richardson believed that basketball is a contest of runs and who ever can have the most for the longest wins. It would be interesting to see how those long runs matter if there are fewer total runs in a game, or if they were able to sustain them against superior competition, or if those runs resulted in an above average rate of wins in those games relative to their other games played, or if those runs were indicative of an equally strong defense.
There are a thousand more questions you could investigate inside that data, and we did for a while, but in the end, we still have not found any evidence was that the 10-0 runs were a strong indicator of Cinderella type teams.
If we go back to the data on the first couple of criteria, we come up with 5 past tournament teams that met those same criteria and got into the tournament.
- 2009 NDSU (14 seed)
- 2012 Iona (14 seed)
- 2018 SDSU (12 seed)
- 2021 Colgate (14 seed)
- 2022 SDSU (13 seed)
So, how’d they do? Were any of them Cinderella’s?
Well, unfortunately, no. Not a single team with these same characteristics made it out of the first round. Iona even lost in the play-in round.
That’s not to say that Oral Roberts couldn’t do it this year. They first need to earn their auto bid and then I’ll tell you what, if they advance past the first round, I’ll go out and buy an ORU hat or jersey for everyone on the team, just to keep us humble.
But I don’t think I’m going to have to do that.
Hey before I go, I’m curious. If you were to want a few questions answered that you may not know the answers to, something that we could dig through our data mine and give you an insight that you may not have had before, would you please pass those along in the comments section? I’m not trying to trick some stupid algorithm, we don’t have one. I’m just curious what questions you have about your team or ways that you think we could understand this tournament prediction game better. Drop it below. Or Don’t. We enjoy reading all the spam emails from SEO “companies” in the inbox.
– Bracket Ninja