March Madness Results and Live Updates

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so naturally the so-called “luckiest team in the country” will take to the field in their first NCAA Tournament.

That would be Providence, the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region, taking on 13th seed South Dakota State at 12:40 p.m. ET on truTV. The Brothers are a popular choice to suffer an upset loss in the first round in part because they rank No. 1 in the measure of luck developed by stats guru Ken Pomeroy (a 27-point loss to Creighton in the tournament Big East also contributed their representative).

Pomeroy says a team’s odds are derived from “the difference in winning percentage between a team’s actual record and its expected record using the correlated Gaussian method.” In other words, a team is considered lucky when its winning percentage is much better than what its underlying stats say it should be.

The Friars (25-5) have an .833 winning percentage, but their stats suggest a team that should be about .194 worse, or about 19-11, according to Pomeroy’s calculations. Providence ranks only 32nd nationally in the measurement of Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency and 80th in defensive efficiency, and they went 15-2 in single digit games and 11-2 in the decided by five game. points or less.

In other words, they won more than a few games that could easily have been lost, had a few rebounds been against them.

Providence coach Ed Cooley says the team uses all that talk of luck as motivation.

“I don’t think there’s been one person in America who’s given us a chance in this game that we’re going to play – not one person,” he told reporters this week. “Some of you are in that audience, and I can tell you – thank you.”

For what it’s worth, South Dakota State ranks 14th out of 68 lucky NCAA tournament teams. The Jackrabbits are 30-4 (.882), but their stats suggest a team that’s more like 28-6 (.824)

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