Inevitably this time of year, some teams are over-seeded in the NCAA tournament and some are under-seeded. But when filling out our brackets, luckily, there is one statistic that can help us identify those teams.
Adjusted Scoring Margin (ASM) is a look at how teams fared against their competition, adjusted for strength of schedule. If a team has a poor win-loss record and strong ASM, that team may have just had an unlucky season (lost more than their fair share of close games). On the other hand, a team with a weak ASM and a very good record might be overrated.
ASM is a major component in RPI rankings, and RPI is a major factor in determining a team’s seed. However, occasionally, a team’s seed differs greatly from their ASM. ASM is just a little better way for us to compare apples and kumquats.
Here is a look at the top 16 teams in this year’s tournament based on ASM. Below the chart you will find notes on what this means for the NCAA tournament…
Some thoughts on the chart…
- There is a clear distinction between the top three teams in the tourney and the rest of the field. In fact, none of the 2-seeds are even in the top nine.
- Florida (2-seed) and UConn (3-seed) may be the most overrated teams in the tourney. Neither are even in the top 16 based on ASM.
- Maryland (30) and St. Mary’s (21) are the only teams among the top 30 ASM not in the field.
- Pitt is the weakest 1-seed. They also have two of the most underrated teams in the tourney in the same bracket, Belmont and Utah State.
- Three teams appear primed to be Sweet 16 bracket busters: 13th seed Belmont, 12th seed Utah State and 7th seed Washington. Unfortunately Belmont and Utah State would meet in the second round. Washington wouldn’t face a team with a better ASM until Elite 8.
- Texas and Kentucky are kinda screwed. Both are among the top five teams based on ASM, and yet, they would both have to face a 1-seed in the Sweet 16.
- Alabama State (-6.9), Arkansas Little-Rock (-1.9), and UT-San Antonio (-2.7) are the only teams with negative ASMs. All are 16-seeds.
- Other first round upset possibilities: 11 Marquette (9.9 ASM) over 6 Xavier (9.7); 11 Gonzaga (11.3) over 6 St. John’s (7.8); Missouri (11.3) over Cincinnati (10.7).
all data via ESPN.com
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