Category: March Madness


Grading the Selection Committee’s In-Season Preview

February 11th, 2017 — 11:03pm

Today, the NCAA Selection Committee put out their first ever in-season preview, releasing the current top 16 if the season were to end today. Let’s see how they did.

First, here is their s-curve alongside my own Achievement Rankings, ESPN’s Strength of Record rankings, and ESPN’s current bracketology seeds.

Continue reading »

Comment » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, review, team evaluation

March Madness Pet Peeves

March 16th, 2016 — 12:13am

I love almost everything about March Madness. Almost everything.

So, despite this being the greatest week of the year–from Selection Sunday to filling out brackets to the wall-to-wall television viewing of the 48 tournament games on the weekend–I offer up a few of the things I do NOT like about the first week of March Madness.

Pet Peeve #1: Calling out the committee for “mis-seeding” teams

You’ll see this all around the internet this week, such as here on 538.com. While sometimes it can be warranted, what I’m talking about are the times people say a team is over- or underseeded compared to their true strength. For instance, FiveThirtyEight called Wichita State underseeded as an 11-seed, saying the committee made an error. I’ve railed on this before, but again: THIS IS NOT AN ERROR ON THE COMMITTEE’S PART. They are grading resumes, not talent! This is Wichita State’s fault for losing 8 games against a sub-par schedule.

I liken this to a teacher–they grade tests, not intelligence. If the smartest kid in the class gets 80% of the questions correct, nobody says she should get an A+ because her IQ is 135! That’s insane. Even if you disagree with this premise that the committee should be concerned with resumes over talent (which is a separate pet peeve of mine!), that is what they are doing! Why would we say they are doing a bad job by using criteria completely different from what they are using. This makes absolutely no sense and makes me literally scream at my computer screen every time I read somebody say it. Stop doing this, people.

Pet Peeve #2: Touting ridiculous trends or trivia as bracket-picking advice

Rece Davis on a recent ESPN Bracketology show warned that the last time a team with a 25+ PPG scorer made the Final Four was–I don’t even remember exactly, but a long time ago. The point was that you should beware of picking Oklahoma to reach Houston this year because Buddy Hield averages over 25 points a game. As if he averaged just 24.9, that would be somehow better.

You’ll hear inane advice like this all over the airwaves this week. I know, I know, there’s a lot of airtime to fill up and not a lot to say. But that doesn’t make advice like this any less annoying. There’s lots of forms of this. Never pick all four #1 seeds to reach the Final Four. Pick one 12-seed to beat a 5. Tom Izzo teams always outperform in March. Yada yada yada. It’s all nonsense, I just wish there could be one bracket show without it.

Pet Peeve #3: Putting the 6/11 game above the 3/14 game in the bracket

I have no idea when this became a thing, but I have even less of an idea as to why it did. It is now prevalent across nearly every bracket I see, and it burns me to my very core.

A bracket is a beautiful, splendid, pristine piece of art. The secret to it’s visually- and intellectually-pleasing perfection lies in its symmetry and patterns. So why–in the name of all that is holy, WHY–would people blatantly ruin this?!

Let’s walk through this. Here’s what a typical bracket looks like:

Bracket rant

Let’s break down this bracket into four groups of four teams each. Within each four-team group, we can look at where the lowest seed resides. In the 1/16/8/9 section, the 1-seed is on top, and in the 2/15/7/10 section, the top seed–the #2–is on bottom. So far, so good. But then in both of the other sections, the top seed–#3 and #4–are both on the bottom! That means 3 of the 4 sections have the top seed in the bottom game. THIS MAKES NO F***ING SENSE!!!

If we split the bracket in half and re-seed, we should get mirror images of each other. The top half would go 1/8, 4/5, 3/6, 2/7. That means the bottom half SHOULD get reseeded as 2/7, 3/6, 4/5, 1/8…but instead we get the cringe-inducing 3/6, 2/7, 4/5, 1/8. I don’t know who I’m more mad at–the person who started this insane, illogical, claw-my-eyes-out trend…or every person thereafter who perpetuated this high crime on the sacred bracket. Please, I beg you all, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world: STOP IT. Stop it now.

***

Now that all of that is out of my system, I can enjoy everything else I love about this time of the year. Happy March Madness everyone.

Comment » | College Basketball, March Madness

Conference Tournament Predictions 2015 – Final Results

March 3rd, 2016 — 11:52pm

Three years ago, I compiled predictions for the conference tournaments from three sources–my own, Ken Pomeroy, and Team Rankings. When the dust settled, Team Rankings had narrowly edged out KenPom for the title as I lagged behind a distant third.

I didn’t get around to it in 2014 (though perhaps I can find time to go back and gather predictions from that season), but last year I did track things. Unfortunately, I’m just now getting around to posting it. The results were the same, though this time, Team Rankings won comfortably over KenPom and my own predictions. I’ve posted the full spreadsheet on Google docs, which you can find here. I discuss the scoring system in this post. Since we are posting advancement odds, we don’t have predictions for each individual matchup. Instead, predictions are essentially a rolled up version of all possible matchups. To score them, I use the log of each team’s predictions to get exactly to the round they did. For instance, my predictions for Montana in the Big Sky tournament were 81%/61%/43%, meaning an 81% chance of winning the 1st round and advancing to the semifinals, 61% of reaching the final, and 43% of winning the title. Another way of looking at it is that Montana had a 19% chance to lose in the 1st round (that’s 100% minus the 81% chance to win in the 1st round), a 20% chance of winning one game and then losing in the semis, an 18% chance of winning twice and losing in the final, and, of course, the 43% chance to win it all. Those are the probabilities that are scored.

This year is under way. If I get around to it, I may post the predictions for each of the three systems, but either way, I’ll be back in a couple weeks with the final results. Good luck to Ken Pomeroy and Team Rankings; I hope to be able to at least climb out of the cellar this year.

Comment » | College Basketball, Conference Tournament predictions, March Madness, predictive, review, team evaluation

The Silliness of Bracketology

February 23rd, 2016 — 1:05am

We’re less than one month from Selection Sunday, which means the burgeoning field often called Bracketology is in full swing. Bracketology has taken on some broader meanings over the years, but it most often refers to predicting the selection and seeding of teams in the NCAA Tournament bracket. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi (aka “Joey Brackets”) has made a name and a living on his projections and there are now so many bracketologists that there is a site called The Bracket Matrix that collects all of them (dozens and dozens), displays them in a matrix, and grades them when the final bracket is released.

As a March Madness lover, I am a fan of most things involving the tournament and endorse almost anything that brings interest and discussion to the event. While predicting the NCAA Tournament field certainly falls into that category–and I myself have dabbled in my version of it–there are some aspects of the current state of Bracketology that range from misguided to downright silly.

Continue reading »

Comment » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, review

NCAA Tournament Predictions – 2013

March 21st, 2013 — 2:29pm

With the tournament under way, I wanted to post my NCAA Tournament predictions. Things didn’t go so well for me with my Conference Tournament predictions, so hopefully the big dance will provide some sort of redemption.

I really hate the traditional bracket with normal scoring rules, as the best bracket ends up just being pretty much chalk and, well, what’s the fun in that? However, I’m guessing most people want to see my “bracket” so I’ll provide it. It’s really unexciting: only two double-digit seeds are favored by my system in the first round–11-seeds St. Mary’s and Minnesota–and there are only a couple more mild upsets along the way.

2013 March Madness Bracket

There’s a lot of information in predictive systems like mine, but this bracket shows virtually none of it. A better way to display all of the information is with advancement odds, like I did for conference tournaments. Here is the likelihood of each team advancing to each round of the tournament.

RgSdTeamRtgRkRd of 32Sweet 16Elite 8Final 4Champ GameChamp
31Indiana98.0198.287.670.759.439.626.4
11Louisville97.5299.376.261.145.128.515.7
23Florida97.4396.771.055.736.620.812.5
41Gonzaga96.9498.562.341.226.715.67.8
24Michigan96.7593.071.850.728.014.47.8
42Ohio State96.1691.668.446.824.012.85.8
45Wisconsin96.1773.960.829.517.69.34.2
12Duke94.5994.057.934.614.86.52.4
48Pittsburgh95.8871.931.118.610.75.52.4
21Kansas94.01193.666.328.811.94.61.8
34Syracuse93.61394.663.418.211.24.31.6
46Arizona93.81275.048.522.68.93.81.3
13Michigan State93.61475.244.722.89.03.61.2
32Miami (FL)92.31990.957.235.310.23.51.2
211Minnesota94.41073.624.415.37.32.91.2
22Georgetown92.31892.756.117.26.82.30.8
33Marquette91.52176.652.527.87.52.40.7
14Saint Louis92.22077.045.413.66.42.30.7
111Saint Mary's (CA)92.61670.036.917.56.32.30.7
17Creighton92.51758.926.413.64.91.80.5
18Colorado State92.81555.514.28.24.01.50.5
43New Mexico91.12482.038.514.54.51.50.4
25Virginia Commonwealth91.32272.222.210.63.51.10.3
37Illinois89.23460.427.314.53.30.90.2
15Oklahoma State90.32956.628.57.22.90.90.2
47Notre Dame90.62659.119.29.02.70.90.2
27San Diego State90.62765.331.38.32.90.80.2
35Nevada-Las Vegas90.03069.328.45.92.90.80.2
19Missouri91.22344.59.75.12.20.70.2
110Cincinnati89.63241.115.16.51.90.50.1
36Butler85.84265.628.111.02.00.40.1
412Mississippi89.63326.116.24.11.50.40.1
112Oregon87.73543.419.24.01.40.30.1
28North Carolina87.63655.119.15.21.30.30.1
38North Carolina State87.13856.97.62.81.20.30.1
49Wichita State89.93128.16.62.60.90.30.1
310Colorado84.44539.614.26.11.00.20.0
410Iowa State87.03940.910.54.00.90.20.0
44Kansas State85.64357.514.42.80.80.20.0
29Villanova85.24444.913.73.20.70.10.0
16Memphis84.44630.010.02.80.60.10.0
39Temple83.65243.14.61.40.50.10.0
411Belmont83.55325.09.92.40.40.10.0
114Valparaiso82.85624.88.32.20.40.10.0
210Oklahoma83.75034.711.81.90.40.10.0
26UCLA85.94126.44.31.60.40.10.0
413La Salle81.55942.58.61.30.30.10.0
311Bucknell75.98034.49.92.50.30.00.0
314Davidson76.67823.49.52.50.30.00.0
312California79.96830.77.60.90.30.00.0
212Akron80.26727.84.41.20.20.00.0
113New Mexico State78.17323.06.90.80.20.00.0
414Harvard69.39918.03.10.40.00.00.0
415Iona69.4988.41.80.30.00.00.0
213South Dakota State68.51007.01.50.30.00.00.0
315Pacific54.41439.11.30.20.00.00.0
216Western Kentucky51.81556.40.90.10.00.00.0
115Albany (NY)52.31536.00.60.10.00.00.0
215Florida Gulf Coast48.51697.30.80.00.00.00.0
313Montana45.31845.40.60.00.00.00.0
214Northwestern State56.11403.30.30.00.00.00.0
316James Madison48.31711.80.30.00.00.00.0
416Southern32.22311.50.00.00.00.00.0
116North Carolina A&T21.82730.70.00.00.00.00.0

The table is fully searchable, sortable, and filterable. I added in the region and seed so you can sort and look at best/worst teams by seed and region.

For now, it’s time to finally enjoy the games.

 

Comment » | College Basketball, March Madness, predictive, team evaluation

Winners and Losers from Selection Sunday

March 19th, 2013 — 12:20am

Despite what many television analysts might say, seeding does have an enormous impact on a team’s chances to advance in the tournament. Every seed line you move up increases your chances of going further in the tournament. But the seeds don’t always play out that way, and so when the bracket is released we can see exactly what matchups each team will face on their path through the tournament.

WINNERS

Indiana has a clear path to the Final Four

The Hoosiers head the easiest of the four regions. Their 2nd round opponent will be the easiest of the 8/9 matchups (NC State or Temple). In the Sweet 16, Syracuse could provide a stiff test but each other region has a 4 or 5 seed as good or better than the Orange. And the bottom half of Indiana’s bracket is by far the easiest of any region: Miami is the worst 2-seed, Marquette is the worst 3-seed (along with New Mexico) and none of the other teams provide much of a threat. Nobody is ever a shoo-in for the Final Four, there’s too many games against too many good teams, but Indiana definitely increased their odds on Sunday with the path they were dealt.

Also benefiting from this easy bracket is 6-seed Butler, who has a relatively easy path to the Elite 8. Could they shock the world…again…and make it to the Final Four? Continue reading »

Comment » | College Basketball, March Madness, predictive, team evaluation

The Achievement S-Curve – 2013 Final

March 18th, 2013 — 9:51pm

Selection Sunday 2013 is in the books. Time to release the final Achievement S-Curve of 2013 and see how it compares to the actual bracket.

The 2013 Achievement S-Curve (click twice to embiggen):

Achievement S-Curve 130318 Continue reading »

2 comments » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, predictive, review, team evaluation

What’s Wrong with the Hawkeyes?

March 7th, 2013 — 12:26am

Amazingly, the Achievement S-Curve matches up well with the traditional Bracketology projections out there such as the one at ESPN. The only current differences between my ASC and ESPN’s Bracketology occur at the very end of the bracket. All of Lunardi’s tournament teams are at least in my first 6 teams out of the bracket and all of my tournament teams are at least in his first 4 out. Except one.

All year, the biggest discrepancy between the Achievement S-Curve and traditional s-curves has been Iowa. Until recently, they weren’t even among those considered for the bracket. They have now snuck their way not into the First Four Out or the Next Four Out, but as the Ninth Team Out and last team considered for ESPN’s bracket. Now, the Hawkeyes are no perfect team, and what I love about the NCAA Tournament as opposed to the BCS is that there are no real “snubs”. If you’re not one of the top 34 non-automatic qualifiers, you don’t have much of a gripe.

That said, we can still try to pick the 34 most deserving at-large teams and Iowa certainly appears to be in the heart of that discussion. The Hawkeyes are 19-11 against what I measure as the 10th toughest schedule in the country. However, teams that appear much more flawed are listed ahead of them. Let’s take a look at a few of the issues that are influencing this misperception. Continue reading »

Comment » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, team evaluation

Bid Stealers – 2013 Conference Tournament Edition

March 6th, 2013 — 10:16am

Earlier this season, I looked at those teams who could potentially shrink the at-large pool by getting upset in their conference tournament. These potential “Bid Stealers” are generally teams from mid-major conferences where they are the only viable at-large candidate. When they don’t win the conference tournament, that automatic bid is going to a team that otherwise would have no chance of going dancing and therefore they are stealing a bid from another at-large candidate.

As we enter Conference Tournament season, it’s time to refresh that look at this year’s potential Bid Stealers. My process for determining auto and at-large bids relies on a simulation of the remainder of the season followed by an application of my Achievement S-Curve to determine NCAA Tournament bids. My Achievement S-Curve (ASC) is based on what I think the criteria for selection should be, and is not trying to mimic the selection committee.

Here are this year’s potential Bid Stealers: Continue reading »

2 comments » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, simulation, team evaluation

The Achievement S-Curve: 2/21/2013

February 22nd, 2013 — 12:24am

It’s time to re-introduce the Achievement S-Curve for the 2013 season. For those of you that are new, I’ll give a quick recap in this post but check out previous posts that go into more detail about the system (try this and this and this for starters).

The Achievement S-Curve is a descriptive rating system that attempts to rate teams based on what they have accomplished. It is a subtle yet important difference from a predictive rating system. While a predictive system attempts to answer the question “who would win if these two teams played today?” a descriptive system answers “who has accomplished the most in the games they’ve already played?”.

An example is probably the best way to demonstrate the differences between the two systems. Let’s take a real-life example. My predictive rating system says that New Mexico is the 33rd best team in the country. That is, there are 32 teams I’d favor over the Lobos, but I’d pick them to beat every other team. Pitt, meanwhile, is the 7th best team. Only six teams in the nation would be favored over the Panthers today. However, New Mexico is 22-4 against the 29th-hardest schedule thus far while Pitt hasn’t fared as well with a  20-7 record against a very similar schedule (24th-most difficult). It is clear that New Mexico has “achieved” more thus far this season than Pitt has. The Lobos have earned a higher seed than Pitt, despite the fact that Pitt would beat them more times than not. Continue reading »

Comment » | College Basketball, descriptive, March Madness, simulation, team evaluation

Back to top