Monday, November 20, 2017
Sports

In March Madness, count on the coaches, not the teams

RECOMMENDED READING


March Madness is about to get under way, and while you are poring over your bracket trying to figure out who is this year's Cinderella or national champion, don't forget to take into account the impact a coach can have on his team's tournament outcome.

Peter Tiernan of BracketScience.com did a study of NCAA Tournament coaches and found that legendary coaches, those with more than 10 trips to the big dance and more than four Elite Eight runs, were "far and away the best performers against seed expectations."

In other words, they win more often than they should.

Coaches that fall into this group this year include Bill Self (No. 1 Kansas), Roy Williams (No. 1 North Carolina), Tom Izzo (No. 2 Michigan State), John Calipari (No. 4 Kentucky), Mike Krzyzewski (No. 4 Duke) and Jim Boeheim (No. 10 Syracuse). Of that group, Izzo is the coach that is most likely to defy expectations — which are already high as a top seed.

Since 2011, the average No. 2 seed has won 2.2 games per tournament, almost one game fewer than the No. 1 seeds — roughly the difference between a Sweet 16 and Elite Eight appearance. Izzo's coaching acumen, however, could add another game or two to their run, giving them a better chance at a Final Four berth.

According to data curated by Christopher Long, Izzo has won more games in the postseason than you would expect based on his regular-season record than any other NCAA coach. He's charted at 9.5 tournament wins "above expectation." Boeheim is next at 7.1.

Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight found Izzo's winning ways are even more impactful when you calculate his wins relative to his seeding in the tournament, producing 14.6 wins above expectations, over four wins more than his closest rival, Louisville's Rick Pitino.

Boeheim is another coach to watch. His 10th-seeded Syracuse Orange can clean the offensive glass (33.0 offensive rebound percentage) and generate points on putbacks (1.05 points per possession, scoring 51.6 percent of the time). They also have a stout defense that is excellent in the half-court, allowing just 0.8 points per possession on 39.2 percent shooting.

They will face No. 7 Dayton in the Round of 64, a team that went 25-7 this season and was co-regular season champions in the Atlantic 10 with a 14-4 conference record. Coached by Archie Miller, the Flyers struggle in the half-court offense, shooting just 43.3 percent with a below average 0.88 points per possession. Their turnover rate is especially high when they run the pick and roll (19.4 percent), a factor that could play right into a Syracuse upset.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the underachievers. Coaches such as No. 10 Temple's Fran Dunphy (3.4 wins below expectation), No. 3 West Virginia's Bob Huggins (minus-2.8) and No. 10 Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon (minus-2.6). West Virginia sends the opposing team to the line for more than half of their field-goal attempts while on defense, the worst mark in the nation.

The game is played on the court, but it's often those on the sideline that can have the biggest March impact.

Comments

Florida A&M football coach Alex Wood resigns

TALLAHASSEE — Alex Wood resigned as Florida A&M football coach Monday, two days after the Rattlers completed their season. Athletic director Milton Overton Jr. said offensive line coach Edwin Pata, a former FSU tight end, will serve as interim coach....
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Doug Martin’s not at fault for struggling running game

TAMPA — RB Doug Martin had just 38 yards on 19 carries in Sunday’s win against the Dolphins, but coach Dirk Koetter said his team’s struggles running the ball shouldn’t go squarely on his running back."In my opinion, he is not the reason we’re not mo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Nick Ferrini and Kellyn Trowse

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Nick Ferrini and Kellyn Trowse

HomeTeam Hot Shots Nick Ferrini, MitchellOn Monday, Ferrini embarked on a five-day cruise with 30 family members. "Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, you name it," he said. Destinations during the trip include Key West, The Bahamas and a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
UF has little to say after meeting with Kelly

UF has little to say after meeting with Kelly

GAINESVILLE — At last, there’s some actual smoke to the Chip Kelly-Florida rumors.The Gators sent a group — including president Kent Fuchs and athletic director Scott Stricklin — to New Hampshire on Sunday to talk with the former Oregon coach about U...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Reeling Broncos fire offensive coordinator

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Monday and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave. Klint Kubiak will take over as QBs coach while Musgrave calls plays for the final six weeks of a soured season tha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports in brief

Sports in brief

OBITUARYnovotna, known for endearing embrace, dies at 49PRAGUE — Jana Novotna, a tennis Hall of Famer who sobbed on the shoulder of a member of the British royal family after a heartbreaking loss in a Wimbledon final, died Sunday at the age of 49. Th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

DETROIT — LeBron James scored 16 of his 18 in the first quarter and the Cavaliers made 11 3-pointers in the first half on the way to a 116-88 rout of the Pistons on Monday night. Cleveland led 73-46 at halftime thanks to an overwhelming shooting perf...
Updated: 1 hour ago
How did UCF go from 0-12 to unbeaten? Coaching and chemistry

How did UCF go from 0-12 to unbeaten? Coaching and chemistry

ORLANDO — The marvel of Space Mountain dissipated decades ago. Doctor Doom’s Fearfall at Universal, while a nifty defiance of gravity, has its ups and downs. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? Please. To many locals, Orlando’s most dizzying experience — ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning impressed with improved offense from defensemen

Lightning impressed with improved offense from defensemen

BRANDON — At one point during Saturday’s game against the Islanders, the Lightning was first in the NHL in points and second in points scored by its defensemen. That’s one reason the team is off to the best start in franchise history.It’s also by des...
Updated: 1 hour ago