What are UAlbany's chances against Oklahoma?

ualbany oklahoma logos


The NCAA basketball tournament tips off today, and for the third straight year the field includes the UAlbany men's team. The Great Danes are seeded #14 in the east bracket and they'll face #3 seed Oklahoma Friday at 7:30 pm in Columbus. (The game is on truTV.)

So, what are UAlbany's chances of pulling the upset?


The NCAA tournament selection committee attempts to seed teams (1-16 in four regional brackets) based on their perceived strength relative to all the other teams in the field. So the bigger the gap between the two seeds in a matchup, the more you'd expect (on average) that the higher seed will win.

And in the 30 years of the NCAA tournament's modern history, the 3/14 matchups have been no exception. In the 120 games of that matchup played since 1985, the #14 seed has won just 18 times. (That's 15 percent of the time.)

But it's happened in each of the last two years -- Mercer beat Duke 78-71 in 2014, and Harvard beat New Mexico 68-62 in 2013.

Another 3/14 upset people here might remember: Siena over Stanford 80-78 in 1989.

Update! Two #14 seeds won on Thursday! UAB beat Iowa State, and Georgia State beat Baylor!


The sports books have UAlbany as a 12.5 point underdog as of Thursday morning.

Stat nerds

The model created by college basketball stat nerd king Ken Pomeroy pegs Albany with a 10.9 percent chance of beating Oklahoma to advance to the next round, the lowest chance of any 14 seed in this year's tournament. (KenPom also figures the Great Danes have a 1 in 931,117 chance of winning the whole tournament.)

The FiveThirtyEight model has UAlbany with a 10 percent chance of advancing (the third lowest among 14 seeds).

Women's tournament: FiveThirtyEight also put together projections for the women's tournament this year -- it has the #13 seed UAlbany women pegged for a 7 percent chance of advancing past #4 seed Duke (at Duke) on Friday at noon. (The game is on ESPN2).

The crowds

Yahoo posts the pick distributions for all the pools in its tournament pick 'em system. Of the zillions of brackets filled out at Yahoo, just 6 percent have the Great Danes beating the Sooners.

In the zillions of brackets filled out in ESPN's tournament challenge, a little more than 8 percent picked UAlbany.

The Upshot
Over at NYT, The Upshot has a fun bracket challenge setup in which picks are worth more as they become more unpopular. (So you score a lot of points for correctly picking games that a lot other people got wrong.)

As of Thursday morning, 15 percent of the crowd at The Upshot had picked UAlbany to beat Oklahoma. Picking the Great Danes would earn you 6.6 points versus 1.2 points for picking the Sooners.


Doesn't necessarily specifically address the strength of each team, but it does provide some context:

For the 2013-2014 school year, Oklahoma spent $8.1 million on its basketball team. UAlbany spent $1.5 million.

Figures are from US Department of Education.


Barack Obama picked Oklahoma in his bracket at ESPN.


Regrettably, zilch.

(Spoiler Alert if you are REALLY into College hoops)

Already two 14 seeds have won today. It would be awesome if all the 14 seeds won!

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