Let's hit the mailbag


In case you missed it, we've posted detailed breakdowns of the first-round games with Giant Killer implications in all four regions, which include the probabilities of an upset occurring. Here's the East region, the South, the Midwest and the West. But with less than 44 hours remaining until the tourney tips off, we wanted to take the chance to address some of the questions we've been getting, through our mailbag and from the comments section of various articles and blog posts. Let's get to it, then.

From Dave in Tucson, Ariz.: Purdue is not rated as a vulnerable giant. Are you factoring their entire season into the calculation? If you just look at their performances without [Robbie] Hummel, do they appear to be a much more vulnerable giant?

This is a really good question. In fact, in the comments section of one of our stories, "Bejogle" took it a step further, saying: "Purdue w/o Hummel, playing as they have been as of late, i'd guess they'd be sitting more at a 65 than a 6.5. It'd be nice to see the model adjusted for their last 6 games, obviously bearing in mind that it's a smaller sample size possibly skewed by the outlier Minnesota game. I still like Siena over Purdue aka Regular Season AND Tournament Champion over That Team That Scored 11 Points In 20 Minutes.

Bejogle is now the front-runner for next year's coveted GK internship. Indeed, the model can't account fully for the Hummel injury, although we've seen Purdue's vulnerability rating creep upward since he tore his ACL. So, although the sample size is too small, as Bejogle mentioned, we'd be willing to bet that Purdue's actual vulnerability rating is higher (and maybe much higher) than 6.5.

From "MSUCHAMPSAGAIN": Could not agree more about Michigan State. My alma mater is absolutely unwatchable at times. I would not be surprised at a first round exit. Nor would I be surprised at a run to Regional Final. This team is living off of last year and are not as hungry as you would think after getting to the title game last year.

We really should add a category to the model next year to see if "frustration of team's own fans" has a statistical correlation with Giant Killing.

From "arogolf": I don't understand how Duke is a low scoring "Vulnerable Giant" if they have not reached the Elite 8 since 2004. I mean, they are not very athletic, lack skilled big men, and if they go cold shooting the three they are done.

We now enter the section of the mailbag entitled "Please read the rules." This isn't about reaching the Elite Eight. Nor is this project about past seasons. Or, for that matter, skilled big men and athleticism. This is a statistical model comparing this year's teams to previous teams that have faced Giant Killers. And this year's Duke team has absolutely no statistical resemblance to previously slain Giants. This says nothing about Duke's chances against another power-conference school. It's purely about how the Blue Devils would perform against a potential Giant Killer.

That answer also covers a similar question from Bob in Houston about why BYU isn't a Giant Killer after losing early in past tournaments. Live in the now, people! Giant Killers only cares about a team's performance this season. Additionally, we consider BYU a Giant because the Cougars have been ranked all season, have an RPI of 21 and are rated seventh in the nation by kenpom.com. Deciding that they're a Killer based on their history would be like calling UMass a Giant (if the Minutemen had somehow made the tourney) because of what John Calipari and Marcus Camby did there.

From "Bballgsf07": I don't necessarily disagree that Temple has a chance to lose in the first round, but you [sic] reasoning was terrible. Temple's 3-point shooting is solid. Juan Fernandez was the best 3-point shooter in the A-10 this season and has been on fire as of late. Ryan Brooks can also step up and hit the big 3 when necessary. Lavoy Allen is a human double double and Micheal Eric has been getting better as the season progressed. If there is any problem with Temple, it's their slow pace on offense and vulnerability to a fast break team.

Dude, you're essentially arguing with a spreadsheet. It's not our "reasoning." For whatever reason, Temple has a lot in common with big-time teams that have gone down to Giant Killers. Sorry.

From "RetepAdam": :-( @ drawing Murray State.

We're feeling you, buddy. We're feeling you. To be fair, a number of fans -- many of whom, we'd imagine, are pulling for Vandy -- have pointed out that Murray State's schedule is suspect. That's our biggest (and, really, our only) concern about the Racers. But we're trusting that the model has done enough to compensate for schedule strength in its numbers that Murray State is truly as impressive as it appears on paper.

From "mamorial26": You know what, I love how these "experts" think they know everything with weird math, formulas etc. Who has Murray State played/beaten in the RPI top 100??? Morehead State. Ok. It is one thing to win a game in the OVC. It is another thing to beat an SEC team. What about Cornell/Temple??? Cornell played Kansas to a nail biter. But I guess they have no shot at beating Temple. good job #### espn.

Damn us and our "weird math," the kind of math that has ... Cornell with a better chance of beating Temple than Murray State does of beating Vanderbilt. XOXO -- Jordan and Peter.

Thanks to everyone so far, and please keep the comments coming!