Thursday, November 28, 2019

East Region All-Time March Madness: Senator Bill Bradley Leads Princeton vs. Syracuse 1987 Champs

Here is the master list of all 96 teams and predictions. Click on the EastWest, Midwest and South bracket to follow the results in each, or click on the Value Add Basketball Game instructions to get the free game and play for yourself. Click here for the google sheet with player cards for all 96 teams. Click here for box scores to all tournament games.

PDFs of new and improved player cards appear below:

Alabama 1977 to Duke 2010

Florida 2006 to Iowa 2002

Kansas 1957 to LSU 2006

Marquette 1977 to Notre Dame 1970

Ohio State 1960 to Purdue 2018

San Diego State 2011 to Texas Southern (UTEP) 1966

UCLA 1972 to Wyoming 1943

Table key: dunks = number of uncontested scores out of 36 rolls from 11-36, Stop Dunks = number added (bad) or subtracted (good) from opponents dunk range, Pred Off = average score resulting from team playing cards in 66 possession Value Add Basketball Games against all top 100 teams in history, Pred Def = average points cards would allow in the those games, Net = difference between those two which is used as the teams rating for seeding or knowing who is favored in a given game by how many points (difference between two net scores). E.g. Arizona's 14.2 indicates it would average defeating LSU (5.5) by 8.7 points if they played hundreds of times.  Click here for all box scores from tournament games.

SeedEast RegionYearConferenceDunksStop DunksPred OffPred DefNet
11Georgetown1984Big East0-571.958.613.3
14Georgia Tech2004ACC9-172.159.812.3
1Kentucky1996SEC (East)11079.660.718.9
2North Carolina St.1974ACC14-180.862.318.5
17Pittsburgh2009Big East4071.961.110.8
18Seton Hall1989Big East1-470.960.110.8
15St. John's1985Big East3-273.861.712.1
12Syracuse1987Big East4074.361.712.6
8Uconn1999Big East7-971.655.316.3
22Villanova1985Big East0070.862.58.3
4Villanova2018Big East8-476.659.217.4
19Wake Forest2005ACC14377.466.710.7
16Wake Forest1996ACC0-867.956.611.3
20West Virginia2011Big East7-468.158.89.3

The seeding in the East gave us one actual rematch of a championship Butler missed a national title by one shot vs. Duke in 2011, Duke is an 8-point favorite in the rematch for a chance to advance and play UConn 1999, the No. 8 seed that beat another great Duke team for a national title.

However, we started with perhaps the two biggest heart break franchises of the past several decades - Pitt and Wake Forest - the closest match-up as the #16 and $17 seeds with Wake Forest 1996 a bare 0.5 points favorite against 2009 Pitt (11.3 to 10.8 net points in simulations above).

It is amazing that with all of the incredible players and teams these two schools produced while playing in the rugged ACC and Big East - neither team made a Final 4 in the past 35 years as each seemed to just keep hitting that one bad match-up year after year (Pitt hitting Dwyane Wade and eventual runner-up Butler early in two tournaments). Our dice game was between the only team from each school to even make the Elite 8 in those 35 years - as Tim Duncan took Wake to their third Sweet 16 in four years but only Elite 8 performance, and Sam Young and perhaps the greatest offensive rebounder in decades - DeJuan Blair - took Pitt to their 5th Sweet 16 in 9 years but only Elite 8. Wake did claim the ACC tournament title that year.

Tim Duncan grabbed an incredible 12 first half rebounds to lead Wake to a 36-24 lead before Blair even entered the game. (in the game, Duncan can play all 44 possessions, but Blair only 33 so we use him the last 33). Blair scored his second trip down the court and then he and Young took over for a long stretch to go from down 33-45 (25 possessions left) to a 48-47 lead when Duncan (one of the greatest shot blockers in the game) actually rejected Blair but Jermaine Dixon grabbed the offensive rebound to score and cap the 15-2 run.

With only two possessions left for each team (Pitt first, then Wake second as the home team), Pitt came down the court trailing only 59-60 when Wake's Jerry Braswell stole the ball and had the only fast break attempt of the game in the slugfest between two of the greatest defensive teams in the game. Baswell missed on the break, but Sean Allen grabbed the rebound and was fouled - hitting one of two free throws to make it 61-59.

Pitt worked it to Young, who drained a two for his 19th point to tie the game at 61-61. Young then played hero at the other end, rejecting Duncan's potential game-winning shot, only to have Allen grabbed the offensive rebound for the second trip in a row and score a lay-up to give Wake the 63-61 win.

Ironically I looked up the 1996 tournament after the game, and Wake beat Louisville by a similar 60-59 low scoring game, and Duncan has the same 13 rebounds in that game (but 27 points as opposed to just 10 in our dice game) and Allen grabbed the winning rebound in the final seconds to preserve the win - though that was on the defensive side (video here). In a coincidence, the 1996 Wake team now plays actual team that beat them in the Elite 8 that year - the 1996 Kentucky team that is the #1 seed in the East and actually destroyed Wake 83-63 in the real game. The simulation table above indicates Kentucky is just 8 points better than Wake, so an upset is possible, and that Wake team is not as strong as the top two No. 1 seeds, the undefeated 1976 Indiana and 1972 UCLA teams.

#16 Wake Forest (1996) 63, #17 Pitt (2009) 61

#17 Pitt (2009)PtsRebStlsBlksFoulsPossessions Played
Levance Fields6310542-12 (1, Fouled out)
Jermaine Dixon3210239, 24-1 (2)
Tyrell Biggs8900128-1 (3)
Sam Young19602142-1 (4)
DeJuan Blair121012133-1 (5)
Ashton Gibbs2100144-43 (1)
Nasir Robinson4201144-40 (2), after FO 12-1 (1)
Gilbert Brown3300144-29 (3)
Gary McGhee2200144-43 (4)
Brad Wanamaker2300144-34 (5)
#16 Wake Forest (1996)PtsRebStlsBlksFoulsPossessions Played
Tony Rutland19720343-1 (1)
Jerry Braswell4420326-1 (2)
Rusty LaRue4400441-1 (3)
Tim Duncan101312444-1 (4)
Sean Allen8501228-1 (5)
Armond Wilson5100144 (1), 30-27 (2)
Steven Goolsby5100244-31 (2)
Joseph Amonett2100144-42 (3)
Antonio Jackson2100139-34 (5)
William Stringfellow4200144-40 (5)

#10 Duke (1992) 77, #23 Navy (1986) 61

The great David Robinson's game high 10 rebounds helped Navy out rebound Duke 33-29 despite Missing many more shots - but he and Christian Laettner held each other in check scoring.

Laettner simply had two much support from Bobby Hurley, who pressured Navy into 16 turnovers while running a Duke offense that only turned it over 9 times, and Grant Hill. And people forget Thomas Hill, the leading scorer as those four starters all scored double figures, was also 3rd team all-acc and a star and picked on weaker Navy defenders while Robinson contained Laettner (and vice versa).

Duke now gets their dreaded rival UNC (the 2005 national champs) in the #7 vs #10 game, with the winner of that game potentially getting the No. 2 sees - Michael Jordan's 1982 team. To show the different ways I track games, I did this running score free hand in a pad (the player stats were still kept on the printed score sheets. Here is a photo to give you multiple options.

#12 Syracuse (1987) 79, #21 Princeton 62

Before he was a popular US Senator and Presidential candidate, Bill Bradley produced a 1965 Ivy League season that resulted in an incredible card. He averaged 30.5 ppg with an incredible ability to draw fouls (9-13 on 20-sided die) and then hit 90% of his free throws (1-18 on 20-sided die).

This from a great shot blocker and rebounder, and guard Ken Shank hit more that 60% of his shots to get 16.8 per game.

Unfortunately Princeton's team defense (+13 on dunks opponents's dunk range) was the worst in of the 96 great teams. This is a calibrated measurement of defense adjusted for level if competition - as is the dunk range on offense.

The disparity gave Syracuse's 1987 champs open lanes to the basket for layups and dunks on rolls of 51-66 - one third of offensive rolls.

Despite Bradley's 13 points and 8 rebounds and shank's 18 points Syracuse led by 20 down the stretch and won 79-62 to advance to face Ralph Sampson and the 1981 UVa team.

The balanced attack of Tony Seikaly (14 points, 8 rebounds), Greg Monroe (14, 4), Derrick Coleman (8, 5, 2 steals and a block), and Sherman Douglas were just too much.

Additional Game Summaries to follow.

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