If March Madness is known for anything, it's picking the upsets. Every true bracketologiest spends endless hours looking over matchups and and numbers, most of which will never actually play a role in the outcome of the game, but for whatever reason we feel like we have to do it. Any stat could be key in unlocking the perfect bracket. Is it field goal percentages, points per game, or is it as simple as ranking? In the end there isn't any key stat or number you can use to pick every match up. It's the beauty of March, and undoublty what makes us all so crazy when our brackets are in the trashcan after the first weekend.
As corny as it sounds, history is really the best stat you can use to predict tournament game's outcome. While we might not be able to pick every game correctly, previous tournaments give us a better idea of what chances each seed has in winning a first round game.
For Penn State as a 10 seed, they fall somewhat out of the traditional upset pick. While the 10-7 game is a relativily close matchup in regards to seeding, the 7 seed has a winning record in the tournament of 61-39. This is 16% higher than an 8 seed's likelihood of winning, which makes sense considering a 8-9 game is essentially a toss up, but only 7% lower than an 6 seed's chances of winning.
So what numbers work in the Nittany Lion's favor? Tenth-seeded teams that have gone to the Dance less than three years in a row with coaches who've made fewer than five tourney trips are 21-20 (.512); all other 10-seeds are 12-31 (.279).
For 7 seeds, teams that score less than 76 points a game and don't rely on their guards for scoring are just 7-16 (.304); the rest of the seven seeds are 44-17 (.721).
In short, Penn State is walking into a favorable matchup for an upset. Temple is dealing with a few injury bugs, and likes to play a slower paced game only averaging 70 points a game. If Penn State trys to limit Temple's possessions, which is almost a guarantee, and is successful with their interior defense they ought to be able to hold Temple well under their average.
Penn State will undoubtly have their hands full this Thursday with a talented Owl's squad, but as in all things Penn State basketball, a team's ranking or in this case seeding, has never influenced their effort in a game.