Tuesday, November 28, 2017

2017 NCAA Women's Tourney Preview

The bracket for this year's NCAA women's tournament was announced Sunday night and play begins Thursday. One aspect of the draw raising some eyebrows is the No. 4 national seed for Kentucky (behind Penn State, Florida, and Stanford). The Wildcats went 17-1 in the SEC, splitting two matches with Florida, and 26-3 overall (match-by-match log). UK's two nonconference losses were to Creighton (9th seed in the NCAA field) and Kansas, whereas the Wildcats' best nonconference wins were over USC (10th seed) and Utah (11th seed).

Using my Conference-Adjusted Combined Offensive-Defensive (CACOD) rating system (described here), I peg Kentucky as having the 13th-best chance to win the national title. The chart below (which you can click on to enlarge) shows the CACOD rating (under "adjratio") for each of the 16 seeded teams. A team's own hitting percentage during the season is one of the major components of the CACOD and the Wildcats' (.321) was one of the best in the nation. However, UK allowed its opponents to hit .207 in the aggregate (the other major component of the CACOD), a fairly high value for elite tournament teams.

Note that in the six years since I developed the CACOD, no team with a value below 1.91 has won the NCAA title. Kentucky (1.55) would thus have to break some major new ground to win the championship. 

The NCAA seedings and the CACOD agree in placing Penn State in the No. 1 slot. The Nittany Lions' top hitting percentage among the 16 seeds, combined with a reasonably good defense, yields a 2.60 CACOD for Penn State. Texas and Nebraska are similar defensively, each allowing its respective opposition to hit just a little above .150. However, the Longhorns' superior offensive hitting percentage (.314 vs. .282) gives them an edge in the CACOD over Nebraska.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the tournament!

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