March Madness Analytics: The 5 Biggest Plays From Yesterday's Insanity
Even if you're not a college basketball fan, it was hard not to love all the Davids beating the Goliaths in yesterday's action. Sure, your backet might be busted already, but who didn't smile as RJ Hunter popped a three for the win while his dad -- the coach of his team -- fell off his chair? Who didn't feel their blood pressure rise down the stretch of the Iowa State-UAB game?
This is what March Madness is all about: Dads falling off chairs and hypertension.
While you watched the games yesterday, hopefully you checked out numberFire Live, our real-time analytics platform. If not, it's pretty sweet, and you probably should use it today -- you can follow along and see live win probabilities, shot charts, advanced player statistics and more.
Using the platform, let's take a look at yesterday's five biggest plays, according to how they impacted the team's overall win probability.
5. UAB Hits a Three With 50 Seconds Left (+35.8% Win Probability)
As I mentioned yesterday, what really sparked UAB in their upset victory over Iowa State -- aside from dreadful play out of Georges Niang -- was a huge three-pointer by Robert Brown with 50 seconds to go. At the time, UAB was down just two points, and the shot from downtown lifted their win probability by 36.31%, making them favorites to win the contest.
And the rest is history.
4. Cincinnati's Troy Caupain Forces Overtime (+41.5% Win Probability)
Because it was an 8/9 game, there was a little less allure surrounding the Purdue vs. Cincinnati contest last night. But it was a great game -- one where Cincinnati came fighting back to force overtime, where the Bearcats eventually won.
The big play in that game? Troy Caupain's layup just as the second half ended, which shot Cincinnati's win probability up 41.55%, taking the game to overtime.
3. SMU Called for Goaltending (+46.2% Win Probability)
It was the most controversial call of the day, and probably the most controversial one we'll see all tournament long. With just 11 seconds to go, the not-so-overrated UCLA Bruins were down two points -- they had roughly a 20% chance of winning the contest.
But then Bryce Alford threw up somewhat of a prayer from three-point land, and the refs called goaltending. UCLA gained the lead, increasing their win probability by 51.27%.
2. RJ Hunter Drains a Three With Two Seconds Left (+70.0% Win Probability)
RJ Hunter went berserk yesterday, scoring 12 of Georgia State's final 13 points on a 13-0 run that closed the game. But no shot he made was bigger than the three he hit with just seconds remaining which, as I alluded to earlier, forced his father out of a chair.
Ron Hunter is OK.
The big shot naturally changed the game, taking the Panthers from 17.31% odds to win the contest (after the defensive rebound that gave them the ball) all the way up to 87.30%.
1. Beejay Anya Hits the Game Winner (+89.82% Win Probability)
If you stayed up for the NC State-LSU game, then you were fortunate enough to see another comeback victory. LSU mostly dominated the contest, but the Wolfpack slowly cut into the Tigers' lead.
NC State snagged a defensive board with 22 seconds remaing, and after a subsequent timeout, they had 35.08% odds of winning the game -- they were down one, and needed to hit a shot to end it.
The Wolfpack inbounded to Cat Barber, who passed it to Trevor Lacey. Without a shot, Lacey handed it off to 300-pound Beejay Anya, who hit a quick turnaround with 0.1 seconds remaining.
Only in March Madness.