History is fun to witness. Texas Tech is playing in the Final Four on Saturday for the first time in school history. It was an unlikely but far from impossible outcome. Before we preview the Final Four, let’s take a look at how likely Texas Tech’s run has been so far. Prior to the beginning of the tournament, the following sources gave the Red Raiders fairly low odds of winning the West Region.
- ESPN BPI: 12.3 percent
- FiveThirtyEight: 14 percent
- Las Vegas Odds: +475 (risk $100 to profit $475), which are implied odds of 17.4 percent
So the consensus was that Texas Tech would have around a 15 percent chance to make it this far, which makes this run even more special. Gonzaga was given anywhere from 60-70 percent odds to reach the Final Four at the beginning of the tourney.
Now, let’s take a look at the Final Four field. Virginia and Michigan State appear to be heavyweights. Texas Tech is the new kid on the block, but has certainly proved themselves worthy the last couple of weeks. Auburn is a bit of an underdog comparatively, but they heated up at the end of the season and have serious talent.
Starting with BPI, here’s how the remaining field stacks up against each other.
|2 Michigan State||20.1||4|
|3 Texas Tech||18.4||6|
It also might help to visualize who these teams have eliminated to reach this point. Below are the victims slayed by each Final Four team, their BPI score, and BPI national rank.
- 1 Virginia – Purdue (17.4, 9th), Oregon (29th), Oklahoma (10.6, 34th)
- 2 Michigan State – Duke (21.3, 3rd), LSU (12.6, 24th), Minnesota (8.2, 53rd)
- 3 Texas Tech – Gonzaga (23.1, 2nd), Michigan (17.9, 8th), Buffalo (12.7, 22nd)
- 5 Auburn – Kentucky (18.2, 7th), North Carolina (18.9, 5th), Kansas (14.2, 18th)
I’m not saying anyone should only judge a team based on tournament performance, but looking at this it actually appears Texas Tech and Auburn have had the most impressive run. Auburn faced three of the sport’s blue bloods. Texas Tech has beaten the best team that’s not in the tourney anymore, and added a 19-point win over the 8th best team in the country according to BPI. Michigan State and Virginia, on the other hand, only have one win each that is better than Auburn or Texas Tech’s third-best tournament win. Virginia’s best win came in overtime and Michigan State’s was by a single point.
According to Ken Pomeroy, here’s how the remaining field stacks up in KenPom efficiency rankings.
|Team||Adjusted Efficiency Margin||National Rank|
|2 Michigan State||31.5||3|
|3 Texas Tech||29.5||5|
Here are each team’s best tournament wins according to KenPom ranking nationally.
- 1 Virginia – Purdue (9th), Oregon (11.6, 28th), Oklahoma (32nd)
- 2 Michigan State – Duke (4th), LSU (19th), Minnesota (47th)
- 3 Texas Tech – Gonzaga (2nd), Michigan (6th), Buffalo (22nd)
- 5 Auburn – Kentucky (8th), North Carolina (7th), Kansas (14.2, 17th)
So Texas Tech has beaten the best team that’s been eliminated from the tournament, and two of the top three. That is so impressive.
Let’s zero in on Texas Tech’s matchup with Michigan State now and see what these analytical sources predict:
- ESPN BPI – Gives Texas Tech a 39.3 percent chance to win, favors Michigan State by 2.7 points
- FiveThirtyEight – Gives Texas Tech a 46 percent chance to win
- Haslametrics – Favors Michigan State to win by a score of 66.3 to 65.8
- Las Vegas Consensus – Michigan State -155 (risk $155 to profit $100), Texas Tech +135 (risk $100 to profit $135), and Michigan State favored to win by 3. These are implied odds of 60.8 percent for Michigan State and 42.6 percent for Texas Tech to win.
The overall consensus appears to be somewhere between a toss-up and slight nod to Michigan State.
Let’s dare to dream and look ahead to the National Championship picture. Below are the odds given for each team to win the title.
|2 Michigan State||26.5|
|3 Texas Tech||13.3|
|2 Michigan State||28|
|3 Texas Tech||22|
Note: I think it’s safe to assume these numbers add up to 101 percent due to some rounding in FiveThirtyEight’s numbers.
Las Vegas Odds Makers
|Team||Odds||Implied odds (%)|
|2 Michigan State||+175||36.4|
|3 Texas Tech||+400||20|
Note: The odds listed are what a $100 bet would profit, and the implied odds listed are how often that bet would need to cash in order for the bettor to break even.
As has been pointed out by fans online already, Texas Tech having 4 to 1 odds is a little too perfect. Hopefully it is a good omen. BURN THE BOATS!