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College football dream tournament, Day 4: FSU upsets Florida, and the third round is set

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Peter Warrick #9...

The DREAM TOURNAMENT rolls on.

Based on some responses I got yesterday, I should probably note something one more time: These aren’t picks or predictions. The whole point of the exercise is that they’re not. Any “GREATEST!!” debate typically centers around “Team A definitely wouldn’t have lost to Team B,” but March Madness every year proves that “definitely” isn’t a thing. This is based on odds and randomness.

1. We’re going to pit national champions from the last 128 years against each other. In the many instances in which more than one team claims a title from a given year, I’ll use Estimated S&P+ to determine the participant — the highest-rated team gets in.

2. We’ll break them up into four ‘regions’ based on the year. Teams from 1889-1920 go in one region, from 1921-52 in another, from 1953-84 in another, and 1985-2016 in another.

3. Within each ‘region,’ we’ll seed the teams based on Estimated S&P+.

4. To simulate each game, we’ll determine win probability based on each team’s Estimated S&P+ rating, then use a random number generator to determine the winner.

I should probably include that blurb each time. If someone jumps in in the middle here, it could get weird. Anyway, let’s complete the second round and take stock.

1899-1920 Region

  • (6) 1890 Harvard (win prob: 61.5%) def. (22) 1904 Michigan
  • (14) 1916 Army (win prob: 41.3%) def. (3) 1903 Michigan

One of the Michigans goes down! I know absolutely nothing about that 1916 Army team, but I feel it has some interesting stories to tell.

  • (10) 1912 Harvard (win prob: 46.7%) def. (7) 1914 Texas
  • (2) 1908 LSU (win prob: 60.8%) def. (15) 1893 Yale

The 1908 LSU train keeps rolling.

1921-52 Region

  • (1) 1945 Army (win prob: 79.6%) def. (16) 1937 Pitt
  • (8) 1934 Alabama (win prob: 51.8%) def. (9) 1948 Michigan

I’ve mentioned this a few times, but 1945 Army is the best team ever per estimated S&P+, and the win probabilities back that up. A single-elimination tournament means even the best team has its work cut out for it, but the Cadets are the clear favorites in this tournament.

  • (5) 1946 Notre Dame (win prob: 59.4%) def. (12) 1949 Notre Dame
  • (13) 1939 Texas A&M (win prob: 39.9%) def. (4) 1930 Alabama

Notre Dame beats Notre Dame, and Homer Norton’s Aggies pull an upset.

1953-84 Region

  • (11) 1973 Alabama (win prob: 64.2%) def. (27) 1963 Texas
  • (3) 1966 Notre Dame (win prob: 68.4%) def. (19) 1964 Alabama

1966 Notre Dame beats an Alabama team. That seems unfair. But there’s another revenge opportunity in the next round.

  • (7) 1965 Michigan State (win prob: 70.6%) def. (23) 1967 USC
  • (18) 1976 Pitt (win prob: 31.5%) def. (2) 1959 Syracuse

UPSET. Tony Dorsett and Pitt take down Ernie Davis and the No. 2 seed. I guess that makes sense — the Panthers were the only usurpers allowed to steal a title in the 1970s (otherwise they all belonged to what we consider blue bloods), so they’re used to disrupting the natural order of things.

1985-2016 Region

  • (16) 1999 Florida State (win prob: 37.7%) def. (1) 2008 Florida
  • (25) 1992 Alabama (win prob: 39.5%) def. (9) 2014 Ohio State

UPSET. Chris Weinke, Peter Warrick, and company take down your No. 1 seed in the most recent region. 1995 Nebraska ... 2001 Miami ... 2008 Florida ... all the favorites are going down. And 2005 Texas just cruises right along.

  • (12) 1987 Miami (win prob: 59.3%) def. (28) 2010 Auburn
  • (13) 2004 USC (win prob: 42.9%) def. (4) 1993 Florida State

A fair trade, I think: The better 1990s FSU team goes down, but the other won knocks off Florida’s best team. Meanwhile, Michael Irvin and Miami end Cam Newton’s run.


So! Where do we stand? Here’s the Round of 32:

1899-1920 Region

  • (1) 1902 Michigan vs. (9) 1892 Yale
  • (5) 1920 Cal vs. (13) 1917 Georgia Tech
  • (6) 1890 Harvard vs. (14) 1916 Army
  • (2) 1908 LSU vs. (10) 1912 Harvard

None of the four regions have kept their top four seeds, but the two older regions have maintained some semblance of order. We’re barreling toward a Michigan-LSU battle here if form is maintained (and there’s no reason to think form will be maintained).

1921-52 Region

  • (1) 1945 Army vs. (8) 1934 Alabama
  • (5) 1946 Notre Dame vs. (13) 1939 Texas A&M
  • (3) 1931 USC vs. (11) 1924 Notre Dame
  • (2) 1932 USC vs. (7) 1943 Notre Dame

USC vs. Notre Dame and USC vs. Notre Dame. Some nice symmetry here ... and the potential for an “Army vs. three Notre Dames” regional semifinal.

1953-84 Region

  • (1) 1971 Nebraska vs. (8) 1972 USC
  • (13) 1953 Maryland vs. (28) 1984 BYU
  • (3) 1966 Notre Dame vs. (11) 1973 Alabama
  • (7) 1965 Michigan State vs. (18) 1976 Pitt

And speaking of symmetry ... blue blood vs. blue blood and usurper vs. usurper, blue blood vs. blue blood and usurper vs. usurper.

1985-2016 Region

  • (16) 1999 Florida State vs. (25) 1992 Alabama
  • (12) 1987 Miami vs. (13) 2004 USC
  • (6) 2012 Alabama vs. (30) 1990 Colorado
  • (2) 2005 Texas vs. (23) 1985 Oklahoma

Only one of the top five seeds remains in the most recent region, but because of recency effect, we know that plenty of powerhouses remain: Vince Young and Texas ... Nick Saban’s Alabama ... Barry Switzer and The Boz ... Weinke and Warrick ... Jimmy Johnson’s best Miami team ... maybe Pete Carroll’s best USC team...