No wonder Arizona high school basketball doesn’t get the props it deserves in other parts of the country. Even the computers are putting it down.
North HS in Phoenix was entered into the field of 64 teams for the boys’ Massey Virtual National Championship, given a No. 10 seed, and pitted against No. 7 Portland Jesuit HS in the first round. The Oregon school finished the season with a 26-2 record and North went 27-3.
North ‘lost’ by 17 points to Portland, which went on to get ‘beat’ in the next round, 70-62, by Westchester HS, a 32-3 squad from Los Angeles. So, not only did North get ‘ousted’ in the first round, but the team that ‘beat’ them didn’t make it past round two.
The Mustangs are a pretty decent team, at least by Arizona standards. They beat St. Mary’s in the state semi-finals by 20 points – and St. Mary’s was good enough to have beaten No. 1 seed Mesa in the previous game.
They also had in their line-up the Arizona Republic‘s Big Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Daniel Bejarano. The combo guard will be in a University of Arizona uniform next year.
But, despite all that, the Mustangs weren’t given much of a chance in the virtual nationals from the get-go. Their odds of winning were listed as 1 in 113,116. That has to be akin to Pine Bluff Arkansas getting past Duke in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The brackets were put together by putting in the highest-ranked champion from each state and then adding at-large teams selected by the sports editors at USA Today. The computer then runs a full probability analysis and projects all the winners. The analysis is supposedly equivalent to running millions of simulations and taking the average result. Projections are all probabilistic statements and the winner will be the school with the highest such probability.
Using the probability table, the computer runs game simulations, beginning with the first round. As in a real game, the better team will not necessarily win.
It’s a little more complicated than that, but this gives an idea of what’s going on round to round.
So, who’s making it through the brackets? It’s down to the Final Four, which includes Westchester, Yates HS from Houston, St. Patrick HS from New Jersey, and North Central Indianapolis HS.
Evidently, Arizona high school basketball isn’t ready yet for prime time. Just ask the computers.