This is the first offering in a three-part series that will examine how OSU’s current team compares to NCAA tournament teams from 2009 to 2012, a universe of 266 teams. I will attempt to answer three main questions (with a few detours along the way):

Part 1: What NCAA seed does OSU deserve?

Part 2: What kind of teams advance in the tournament?

Part 3: How far will OSU advance in the tournament?

In all three parts, teams will be evaluated using Ken Pomeroy’s system (yes, I refer to him all the time — because he’s the best). I will evaluate these 266 teams based on three Pomeroy factors:

- Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for SOS)
- Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for SOS)
- Pomeroy Rating (Pomeroy’s rating, which is based on a combination of the two factors listed above)

You want a high offensive number and a low defensive number.

Let’s get started with Part 1: What NCAA seed does OSU deserve?

Each of the grey dots represents an team that made the NCAA tournament from 2009 to 2012 (these are the 266 teams I mentioned). I’ll wait here while you count them.

I situated the axes so that you want to be at the top right of the chart – high offensive number (“north” on the chart), low defensive number (“east”). Let’s look at a couple examples:

See the dot closest to the top right corner? That belongs to the 1-seed 2010 Duke team that beat Butler for the title.

Okay, how about the dot closest to the lower left corner (the bad corner)? That belongs to Alabama State’s 2011 team that lost in a play-in game.

I’ll get to that orange dot in a moment. First, let’s add something else to the chart:

Those numbers (1 through 16) are the average chart position for each of the 16 NCAA seeds over the last four years. For example, the average of the sixteen 1-seeds over this four-year period is 119.5 on offense and 88.1 on defense.

I found this pretty fascinating. The seeds are lined up pretty much the way they should be, progressing from the lower left up to the upper right. What is interesting to me is how some of them are bunched together in packs. 1 seeds are clearly better than the rest. 2 through 4 are kind of bunched together, and 5s are kind of on their own. Then 6 through 12 are a train wreck — no wonder there are so many “upsets” in this range — all of the teams are basically the same. 13 through 16 show you to the exit in an orderly fashion.

Back to that orange dot — yes, that is OSU’s current season. What does it mean? Well, notice how we are “east” of the 1 seed number? We are playing elite, 1-seed level defense — in fact, only 14 NCAA tournament teams out of 266 have a better defensive figure than OSU’s current 86.7.

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: draw a straight line over from the orange dot to the pack of numbers in the middle. OSU is playing offense on a 10-seed level. 63% of the 266 tournament teams over the last four years have a better offense than what OSU will be bringing to the dance.

So, to answer the question I brought up at the beginning of this: what seed does OSU deserve? I did a little regression analysis using Pomeroy’s overall rating versus the NCAA seeds assigned to each team over the last four years and came up with a formula that is fairly accurate at assigning ratings (it was correct within two spots 69% of the time over the last four years).

Once again, OSU is the orange dot below. The line running through the dots is the closest fit to each dot, and it provides the formula for determining the predicted seed. We have a Pomeroy rating of 0.9124. When you plug that figure into the formula, it says OSU will be assigned an NCAA tournament seed of 5.1.