April 18, 2006

History isn't kind

So I just reviewed ESPN and their analysts top five picks for College Basketball in 2006-07. In no order: North Carolina, Kansas, Ohio State, Florida, and UCLA are mentioned by each of the analysts. We have two Final Four teams from 2006, two young teams that lost on the first weekend, and Ohio State which lost four seniors, but gets the best recruiting class in the country, highlighted by 7'1" center Greg Oden.

First thing first, lets start with Florida and their hopes of returning to the Final Four.

The only school to repeat as champions in the Three Point Era was Duke in 1991 and 1992. Otherwise, be prepared to face disappointment after the title:

(Numbers in parenthesees represent seedings)
1988 (4) Indiana lost in the first round to (13) Richmond
1989 Kansas went on probation and didnt participate in the tournament.
1990 (3) Michigan lost in the second round to (11) Loyola Marymount
1991 (1) UNLV lost in the National Semifinals to (2) Duke
1992 (1) Duke won title again
1993 (3) Duke lost in the second round to (6) California
1994 (1) North Carolina lost in the second round to (9) Boston College
1995 (2) Arkansas lost in the National Title Game to (1) UCLA
1996 (4) UCLA lost in the first round to (13) Princeton
1997 (1) Kentucky lost in the National Title Game to (4) Arizona
1998 (1) Arizona lost in the Elite Eight to (3) Utah
1999 (3) Kentucky lost in the Elite Eight to (1) Michigan State
2000 (5) Connecticut lost in the second round to (4) Tennessee
2001 (1) Michigan State lost in the National Semis to (2) Arizona
2002 (3) Duke lost in the Sweet Sixteen to (2) Kansas
2003 (6) Maryland lost in the Sweet Sixteen to (7) Michigan State
2004 (5) Syracuse lost in the Sweet Sixteen to (8) Alabama
2005 (2) Connecticut lost in the second round to (10) N.C. State
2006 (3) North Carolina lost in the second round to (11) George Mason

Some trends:
- Only six champions returned as a #1 seed the next year.
- Only five teams returned to the Final Four the next year.
- Twelve times the defending champ lost to a higher numbered seed the next year; including the last four champions.

Now lets consider the probabilities for George Mason, LSU, and UCLA - teams looking to return to the Final Four after making an appearance the previous year:

(Results below the Final Four year represents the team's finish the next season.)

1987 Indiana, Syracuse, UNLV, Providence
- First round, second round, second round, not invited
1988 Kansas, Oklahoma, Duke, Arizona
- Not invited, second round, Final Four, Sweet Sixteen
1989 Michigan, Seton Hall, Illinois, Duke
- Second round, Elite Eight, first round, National Runner Up
1990 UNLV, Duke, Georgia Tech, Arkansas
- Final Four, National Champs, second round, Elite Eight
1991 Duke, Kansas, UNLV, North Carolina
- National Champs, second round, not invited, Sweet Sixteen
1992 Duke, Michigan, Indiana, Cincinnati
- Second round, National Runner Up, Elite Eight, Elite Eight
1993 North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Kentucky
- Second round, Elite Eight, Sweet Sixteen, second round
1994 Arkansas, Duke, Arizona, Florida
- National Runner Up, not invited, first round, first round
1995 UCLA, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, North Carolina
- First round, Sweet Sixteen, not invited, second round
1996 Kentucky, Syracuse, Massachusetts, Mississippi State
- National Runner Up, not invited, first round, not invited
1997 Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, Minnesota
- Elite Eight, National Champs, Final Four, not invited
1998 Kentucky, Utah, Stanford, North Carolina
- Elite Eight, second round, second round, first round
1999 Connecticut, Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State
- Second round, Sweet Sixteen, second round, National Champs
2000 Michigan State, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina
- Final Four, second round, first round, second round
2001 Duke, Arizona, Maryland, Michigan State
- Sweet Sixteen, Sweet Sixteen, National Champs, first round
2002 Maryland, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma
- Sweet Sixteen, second round, National Runner Up, Elite Eight
2003 Syracuse, Kansas, Texas, Marquette
- Sweet Sixteen, first round, Sweet Sixteen, not invited
2004 Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Duke, Oklahoma State
- Second round, second round, Sweet Sixteen, Sweet Sixteen
2005 North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan State, Louisville
- Second round, second round, first Round, not invited

2006 Florida, UCLA, George Mason, LSU

- No Final Four has returned the next year intact. There have never been three teams to return to the Final Four. Two teams have returned only twice (Duke & UNLV, 1991; Kentucky & North Carolina, 1998). One team has returned 11 times (most recent was Kansas in 2002 & 2003). A completely new Final Four has happened seven times (most recent was the 2005 field to the 2006 field).
- 35 different schools have made the Final Four in the Three Point Era. (80 bids)
- The last four Final Fours have had 16 different teams. Before that, from 2000-2003 there had been a repeat team in the Final Four each year.
- Discounting 1987, the first year of the Three Point Era, 2002 and 2004 are the only years in the era that fielded a Final Four in which all schools had previously been to the Final Four in the Era.

Looking Back: Where did the champions place the year before?
(previous year's result in parenthesees)

1987 Indiana (First Round)
1988 Kansas (Sweet Sixteen)
1989 Michigan (Sweet Sixteen)
1990 UNLV (Elite Eight)
1991 Duke (National Runner Up)
1992 Duke (National Champion)
1993 North Carolina (Sweet Sixteen)
1994 Arkansas (Sweet Sixteen)
1995 UCLA (First Round)
1996 Kentucky (Elite Eight)
1997 Arizona (Sweet Sixteen)
1998 Kentucky (National Runner Up)
1999 Connecticut (Elite Eight)
2000 Michigan State (National Semifinals)
2001 Duke (Sweet Sixteen)
2002 Maryland (National Semifinals)
2003 Syracuse (Not in tournament)
2004 Connecticut (Sweet Sixteen)
2005 North Carolina (Second Round)
2006 Florida (Second Round)

Trends (all or most recent in parenthesees):
- One champion was a repeat (Duke, 1992).
- Two champions were runners-up the year before (Duke, 1991: Kentucky, 1998).
- Two champions played in the previous Final Four (Michigan State, 2000; Maryland, 2002).
- Three champions had played in the Elite Eight (UNLV, 1990; Kentucky, 1996; Connecticut, 1999).
- Seven champions had played in the Sweet Sixteen (Kansas, 1988; Michigan, 1989; North Carolina, 1993; Arkansas, 1994; Arizona, 1997; Duke, 2001; Connecticut 2004).
- Two champions lost in the second round the previous year (North Carolina 2005, Florida 2006).
- Two champions lost in the first round the previous year (Indiana, 1987; UCLA, 1995).
- One champion was not in the tournament field the previous year (Syracuse, 2003).

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.