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NCAA Bracket Predictions: Pomeroy Ratings Say To Watch Out For Belmont, Utah State

My colleague Dustin has been very busy bringing you a pair of awesome previews for the start of the NCAA Tournament. Let me see if I can help out a little by identifying some sleepers in the brackets. Or, more accurately, let me see if Ken Pomeroy can help you out. Pomeroy, who runs kenpom.com, has the most detailed pace-adjusted offensive and defensive ratings for each team in the NCAA Tournament. He then runs a series of simulations (known as a log5 analysis) to see what percentage chance each team has of winning in each round, given that their opponent could be one of many different schools after the "second" round. 

Two of the biggest sleepers in the NCAA field per the ratings are Belmont and Utah State. While Pomeroy cautions that he doesn't believe the numbers on these two are completely indicative of how good they are, they both are probably underseeded. The Log5 analysis gives the Aggies a 60% chance of knocking off Kansas State, and Belmont gets a 39% chance of beating No. 4 seed Wisconsin. Both of these games are in the Southeast bracket, which is undoubtedly the weakest bracket of them all, so picking one of these teams to make a big splash in the tournament may not be such a bad idea. 

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Other second round tournament upsets that have a >40 % chance of happening in the Pomeroy odds include Florida St. over Texas A&M (50.8%), Richmond over Vanderbilt (44.3%), Michigan St. over UCLA (55%), Gonzaga over St. John's (53%), Missouri over Cincinnati (43.4%), Penn State over Temple (49%), and Marquette over Xavier (52.5%). While it's not likely that every domino from this group will fall, this is the main pod where the upsets will come from in the tournament. If you're looking to be different, some bold calls in the Southeast bracket would be ideal.

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