There’s a perception around college basketball that Sean Miller-coached teams underperform in the NCAA Tournament.
That, despite consistently having lottery picks like Lauri Markkanen, Aaron Gordon, and Deandre Ayton on his roster, Miller’s squads always seem to find a way to fall short of expectations in the postseason.
I mean, there’s a reason Miller has never reached a Final Four, right?
And Miller’s shortcomings in the NCAA Tournament were certainly on display this season, as his fourth-seeded Arizona Wildcats lost by 21 points to the 13th-seeded Buffalo Bulls in the first round.
In actuality, though, Miller’s teams have actually overachieved in the NCAA Tournament, according to a study by FiveThirtyEight, which can be found here.
The analytics site used its Elo ratings to generate pregame win probabilities for each NCAA Tournament game since 1985, then compared the expected results of each game to the actual results.
Miller has a career 19-11 record in the NCAA Tournament, which is actually 2.3 wins better than expected, per the study. That mark ranks 31st among all coaches since 1985, a very solid rating and one that shatters the narrative that he can’t effectively coach in March.
Interestingly enough, Arizona legend Lute Olson had a 34-21 record in the NCAA Tournament (since 1985), which was 1.2 wins worse than expected, per the study.
That number puts Olson at 520th (of 550) among all coaches, meaning he is considered one of the most underachieving coaches in the NCAA Tournament in the last three decades.
Olson did coach Arizona to one of the worst losses of all-time in 1993, when it fell to 15th-seeded Santa Clara in the first round, as well as eight other first-round exits during his 24-year tenure in Tucson.
Then again, he also led Arizona to four Final Fours, and an improbable national championship run in 1997 that included three wins over No. 1 seeds — the only coach to accomplish such a feat.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire