Why my model is low on Cornell’s chances
I had a question come in about why my Bracketology simulations are fairly low on Cornell’s chances at getting into the NCAA field.
It’s the probabilities…
As it stands, the model thinks that Cornell’s chances of landing a spot are 34.6%. That comes from a 17% chance that they win the Ivy League and a 17.6% chance that the lose the ILT and get selected as an at-large.
A lot of projections of the “current state” of the bubble have them in, which I do not disagree with. But the selection committee will not be deciding based on the current state. They will be deciding based on the resumes that each team brings on Sunday night.
And there is a 71% chance that Cornell’s resume is going to include a second loss to Yale. That would drop their RPI a bit (probably in line with Hopkins’ fall should they lose to the Terps).
The resume is not the problem
But alone, it wouldn’t be enough to keep them out, it would just keep them in that last-team-in slot. The real problem for a Cornell team that loses to Yale is bid thieves.
As last team in, they lose their spot should someone currently out of the mix win their conference title. And unfortunately for Cornell, there are 4 such chances:
- A Patriot League team who is not Loyola
- A CAA team that is not Towson
- Brown winning the Ivy League
- Rutgers winning the Big Ten
If we use our Lax-ELO ratings and the Bracketology simulator, we can calculate a percentage probability for each of those 4 scenarios:
- Loyola loses the Patriot tournament: 34.7% chance
- Towson loses the CAA tournament: 69.4% chance (RPI suggests that they would probably get in over a Cornell team that loses to Yale)
- Brown wins the Ivy: 4.8% chance
- Rutgers wins the Big Ten: 4.1% chance
Paging your high school math teacher
It then follows that the chance of none of those events happening is just 18%. Heck, there is even a 10% chance that either Brown or Rutgers wins their league tournament.
So that is where we find a Cornell team that has lost to Yale in the ILT semis: hoping for an 18% probability to come through.
And wouldn’t you know it, if we assume Cornell loses to Yale, their chances of getting into the NCAA tournament, according to the Bracketology simulator, sit at 17.8%. Having a simulator is great, isn’t it?
So to wrap, it’s not that my model doesn’t like Cornell’s resume. In fact, even with a loss to the Elis, it still thinks the Big Red are NCAA-worthy.
The issue is that Cornell still needs one of two fairly unlikely events to happen to secure their spot. They control their own destiny, but it will not be an easy one to fulfill.