Tag: Bracketology


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

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 »

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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 »

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The Achievement S-Curve: 3/10/2012

March 10th, 2012 — 4:41pm

About half of the automatic bids are still up for grabs this weekend, but the NCAA Tournament picture is starting to take shape. It’s time for one last Achievement S-Curve update. As always, the full ratings can be found here. All data updated through Friday, March 9th. Click to view bigger.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest discrepancies and see what we can learn. Continue reading »

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The Blindness of the Blind Resume

March 10th, 2012 — 2:38pm

I love the spirit of the blind resume. I hate the execution.

With Selection Sunday just hours away, you will undoubtedly be inundated with blind resumes comparing multiple teams and asked to decide which team is in and which is out, or which team should be seeded higher. I like the sentiment behind these: strip away the name of the team, their history, their media coverage, their conference affiliation and focus solely on what they’ve accomplished this season. The problem is that the blind resumes focus on the wrong information, making the comparisons flawed.

Why the Blind Resumes are Flawed

A typical blind resume looks something like this: Continue reading »

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The Importance of Seeding

February 23rd, 2012 — 7:34pm

This post was a 2-part guest post at TeamRankings.com. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

With a month left in the season, most of college basketball is focused on who’s in and out of the tournament. Those teams near the cut line are on the Bubble, while teams that are securely in the tournament are Locks with little worry of falling out of the bracket and seemingly little left to gain with their dance cards punched.

Turns out, there’s still plenty to play for, especially at the top. As every fan knows, the NCAA Tournament is seeded from 1 to 16 in four separate regions. The top seeds are rewarded by being placed at locations close to home, protected from a home-crowd disadvantage, and–most importantly–pitted against easier opponents. That last point is even more pronounced than one might expect. Obviously every team wants to move up a seed line, but the importance of climbing each rung of the seeding ladder might surprise. Continue reading »

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Quick Slant: Murray State punches ticket

February 18th, 2012 — 7:05pm

One cool thing we can do with the rest-of-season simulation is look at the effect that the outcome of a specific game can have. As an example, take today’s headline BracketBusters game between Murray State and St. Mary’s that just finished. Entering today, the Racers had a 92.9% chance to get an at-large bid should they fail to win their conference tournament. With a loss today, that would have dropped to 88.6%, but Murray State was able to pull out the big victory at home and–at least according to the Achievement S-Curve–punch their ticket to the Big Dance.

Comment » | College Basketball, March Madness, Quick Slant, simulation, team evaluation

The Achievement S-Curve: 2/13/2012

February 14th, 2012 — 12:08am

Quick update on the Achievement S-Curve.

First, the bracket and the full ASC data here:

The ASC is converging with Bracketology. Besides differences in doling out the automatic bids, just two of Lunardi’s at-large teams were not in my bracket–BYU and Arizona–and they were my very first two teams below the cut line. One of the two spots went to Nevada since I give the WAC auto bid to New Mexico St. The other went to Northwestern, who I have all the way up at a 9-seed. I think the Wildcats are not being given due credit for their tough schedule, which I have ranked 10th toughest. Since I touched on Northwestern last week, I’ll use another Big Ten team that I believe is underseeded as this week’s example: Illinois.

Bracketology has the Illini as a 12-seed while the ASC sees their resume as worthy of a 6-seed. For comparison’s sake, since I have already picked on Florida in the past, I’ll spare them and go after their in-state rival Florida St. (#11 in the ASC, #6 in Bracketology). I’m going to debut a new tool to help display a team’s schedule. These graphs show a team’s schedule from toughest game to easiest. Green bars show wins while red bars indicate losses. The gray bars represent the opposite score for that game should the outcome have been flipped. This allows us to see exactly how a team is arriving at its score.

Here are the graphs (no cool name yet, but I should come up with one) for Illinois (on top) and Florida St. on the bottom (try clicking twice to view them larger). Continue reading »

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Who’s REALLY Going Dancing?

February 10th, 2012 — 12:08am

Around this time of year, there’s lots of talk about who’s in and who’s out and who’s on the bubble. Plenty of chatter about what may or may not get your team into the Big Dance. Tons of discussion of big wins and bad losses.

I’ve spent the past few weeks posting my Achievement S-Curve, an objective, reward-based system of who should be in the tournament if the season ended today. But the season is not going to end today, despite how much Murray State may have wanted it to end before they took their first loss to Tennessee State tonight. It’s interesting and fun to play committee member and decide the fates of 345 college basketball teams more than a month before the actual brackets are released. But what we really should be interested in is what is going to happen the rest of season.

It’s cool to see that overachievers like Murray State and San Diego State have climbed into the top half of the bracket, but if we know they’re likely to come down to earth a little bit that’s much more insightful. Conversely, underachievers like Alabama or Saint Louis might be on the bubble right now but if they’re going to work there way off of it and into the bracket, we shouldn’t really care too much.

The Solution: Simulation Continue reading »

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The Achievement S-Curve: 1/30/2012

January 30th, 2012 — 11:04pm

Those following along (those that have not, start here, here, and here) know that the goal of the Achievement S-Curve is to reward teams for what they have accomplished on the court. Wins and losses count. Strength of schedule counts. Scoring margin, the eye test, true team strength…they don’t count.

There are good arguments against simply selecting and seeding teams based on who is the most deserving as opposed to just the best teams. For one, some people simply prefer to select the best teams and see them go at it in the tournament. Secondly, while seeding teams based on achievement rewards the top teams with good seeds and likely easier paths in the tournament, you may sometimes inadvertently hurt some of these teams who draw teams that underachieved during the season. Take Washington as an example from last season–they were a top 10 team by some rankings of the best teams but underachieved and drew a 7-seed. A team that earned a 2-seed would actually be better off as a 3-seed drawing an easier 6-seed as opposed to being slotted across from the Huskies.

So, this week, I offer two alternative S-Curve systems: Continue reading »

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