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2015 March Madness – Bracket based on experimental utility function

 2015, basketball, March Madness, Tournament  Comments Off on 2015 March Madness – Bracket based on experimental utility function
Mar 172015
 

robust_bracket

The image above is an attempt at a recommended bracket using a utility function that minimizes your regret of being wrong. Fan distributions count almost as much as win probabilities with this utility function (which is not peer reviewed). So how much you regret an incorrect pick depends both on the probability of you being wrong (based in win probability) and on the number of other entries likely to get it correct (based on fan distributions). The resulting bracket is mostly robust to the size of your pool (beyond a dozen other entries) and to most common scoring methods.

One of the problems with the utility function used to generate the “which team to pick” widget, is it assumes all you care about is getting the champ right and not having too many other entries also get the champ right. It ignores the possibility of hedging popular picks (eg, Kentucky and Duke), and can recommend some quite improbable champions.

The approach depicted above reflects the mindset of a quantitative portfolio manager. The portfolio manager might choose to minimize his regret of not picking popular picks that turn out to win. He won’t always pick the team most likely to win, because he would really regret being wrong if so many other entrants pick the underdog and the underdog wins. If nobody in your pool picks Northern Iowa, then not picking Northern Iowa either really can’t hurt you.

 Posted by on March 17, 2015 at 10:09 am

2015 March Madness – Which Team to Pick (other than Kentucky)

 2015, March Madness, Office pool, Tournament  Comments Off on 2015 March Madness – Which Team to Pick (other than Kentucky)
Mar 162015
 

Widget for identifying which team to pick as champion, based on the size of your pool

Use this widget to decide which team(s) to pick for your entry champion(s), then fill in the rest of your bracket(s) using the most likely bracket below.

If you don’t see the widget, you may download the Excel workbook yourself.

 Posted by on March 16, 2015 at 8:57 pm

2015 March Madness – Most likely bracket

 2015, basketball, March Madness, Office pool  Comments Off on 2015 March Madness – Most likely bracket
Mar 152015
 

Update, March 16, 2015, 5:10p PDT
Corrected “Alabama” to read “Albany” in East region. Oklahoma’s survival rates are improved, so other teams’ survival rates in that region are slightly reduced. TMA

Midwest
midwest2015_
West
west2015_
East
east2015_3
South
south2015_
Final Four

RegionSemi-final Championship Semi-finalRegion
MidwestKentucky 67.7%Villanova 35.9%East
Kentucky 45.9%Kentucky 33.7%Villanova 23%
WestArizona 42.2%Gonzaga 29.1%South

Survival rates are derived from a composite of strength ratings from Ken Pomoroy and LRMC. Any errors are mine.

 Posted by on March 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm

2015 March Madness Expected Survival Rates by Region

 2015, basketball, March Madness, Office pool, Tournament  Comments Off on 2015 March Madness Expected Survival Rates by Region
Mar 152015
 

Update, March 16, 2015, 5:10p PDT
Corrected “Alabama” to read “Albany” in East region. Oklahoma’s survival rates are improved, so other teams’ survival rates in that region are slightly reduced. TMA

Midwest region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6
1Kentucky0.97530.89380.81120.67710.45930.3368
16Manhattan0.02470.00540.00110.000100
8Cincinnati0.56540.0620.03130.01080.00220.0005
9Purdue0.43460.03880.01710.0050.00080.0002
5West Virginia0.63020.37260.06110.02430.00570.0016
12Buffalo0.36980.17050.0190.00540.00080.0002
4Maryland0.61960.31080.04460.01580.00320.0008
13Valparaiso0.38040.1460.01460.00370.00050.0001
6Butler0.47750.20460.08660.01780.00440.0013
11Texas0.52250.23450.10430.02270.0060.0018
3Notre Dame0.87650.53830.2940.08260.02840.0113
14Northeastern0.12350.02260.00350.000300
7Wichita St.0.73090.39040.2080.05490.01770.0066
10Indiana0.26910.08450.02540.00350.00060.0001
2Kansas0.83810.48860.27080.07530.02570.0101
15New Mexico St.0.16190.03650.00730.00070.00010

West region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6
1Wisconsin0.9550.81560.64430.36170.17180.1027
16Coastal Carolina0.0450.00970.00190.000100
8Oregon0.47210.07890.03290.00660.00110.0002
9Oklahoma St.0.52790.09570.04220.00920.00160.0004
5Arkansas Little Rock0.22460.01910.0008000
12Wofford0.77540.17870.02170.00250.00020
4North Carolina0.79420.67680.23830.08330.02360.0087
13Harvard0.20580.12540.01790.00250.00030
6Xavier0.52440.2340.05250.01520.00320.0009
11BYU0.47560.20150.04220.01150.00220.0006
3Baylor0.7750.48960.15210.05890.01690.0063
14Georgia St.0.2250.07490.00960.00170.00020
7VCU0.43540.07080.03030.00810.00160.0004
10Ohio St.0.56460.11170.05490.01720.00390.0012
2Arizona0.97720.81510.65810.42160.21790.1399
15Texas Southern0.02280.00240.0002000

East region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6
1Villanova0.96780.81570.60250.3590.23040.1001
16Lafayette0.03220.00490.0005000
8North Carolina St.0.51650.09490.03470.00840.00230.0003
9LSU0.48350.08460.02970.00690.00180.0002
5Northern Iowa0.84910.54040.20510.08360.03750.0099
12Wyoming0.15090.03890.00450.00050.00010
4Louisville0.78810.37490.11730.03940.01460.0031
13UC Irvine0.21190.04570.00560.00070.00010
6Providence0.56040.21740.05690.01640.00520.0009
11Dayton0.43960.14820.03280.0080.00220.0003
3Oklahoma0.89220.61180.24260.10450.04920.0139
14Albany0.10780.02260.00190.000200
7Michigan St.0.62160.16810.08170.02840.01080.0024
10Georgia0.37840.07260.02690.00680.00190.0003
2Virginia0.9530.75170.55610.3370.21930.0973
15Belmont0.0470.00760.0010.000100

South region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6
1Duke0.91960.70070.4460.26010.12460.0442
16North Florida0.08040.01780.00260.000300
8San Diego St.0.57560.17530.06910.02370.00610.0011
9St. John's0.42440.10620.03480.00980.0020.0003
5Utah0.74140.5210.2790.150.0650.0205
12Stephen F. Austin0.25860.12070.03670.0110.00240.0004
4Georgetown0.83740.33820.12930.04920.01420.0028
13Eastern Washington0.16260.02020.00240.000300
6SMU0.60740.27770.09880.03670.01050.002
11UCLA0.39260.14190.03820.01070.00220.0003
3Iowa St.0.86580.55130.24480.11330.04150.0108
14UAB0.13420.02910.00360.000500
7Iowa0.55440.16780.0770.02780.00770.0015
10Davidson0.44560.11710.04770.0150.00360.0006
2Gonzaga0.93850.70480.48850.29140.14470.0537
15North Dakota St.0.06150.01020.00140.000100

Survival rates are derived from a composite of strength ratings from Ken Pomoroy and LRMC. Any errors are mine.

 Posted by on March 15, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Whether to pick upsets in your bracket depends on the pool’s scoring method

 2015, basketball, March Madness, Office pool, Office pool strategy, Tournament  Comments Off on Whether to pick upsets in your bracket depends on the pool’s scoring method
Mar 132015
 

The traditional NCAA bracket entry is scored in progressive powers of two, such that each round offers 32 points. First round games are worth 1 point, second round 2, etc., and the final game is worth 32.

The leverage of the championship game – worth 32 points out of a possible 192 – is why so many entries pick the overall favorite. This year that favorite will be Kentucky. I predict your pool, if it uses traditional scoring, will have over 40% of the entries picking Kentucky as the champ.

The problem with picking the overall favorite yourself is it is what is known as a “crowded trade.” You already know nearly half the other entries are picking Kentucky. So whether you win the pool, with Kentucky as your champ, is a different matter from whether Kentucky wins the tournament. If Kentucky wins, your pool’s champ will probably be determined by a handful of early round games.

The corollary to this is that if you’re confident in your picking ability, you SHOULD pick Kentucky, because you expect other entries to have worse records than yours in the earlier rounds.

I prefer to look for low hanging fruit in terms of strong teams being underpicked by fans in pools. I predict schools like Virginia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Villanova will all be underrepresented in pool entries to win it all relative to their probability of winning the whole tournament. Imagine you’re the only one in your pool who picks Wisconsin – that’s a wide margin of error for any earlier round games that you missed. Compare that to if you pick Kentucky – your early round picks had better be nearly perfect.

Scoring method matters. Some pools score rounds in a linearly increasing sequence (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6); in this case the final game counts for a mere 6 out of 120 points. Some pools now use Fibonacci (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13); here the final is worth only 13 out of 137. In both cases, getting the champ wrong hurts you less than it does in a traditional power-two pool, so you can afford to take more chances.

 Posted by on March 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

March Madness pool entry 2014

 2014, March Madness  Comments Off on March Madness pool entry 2014
Mar 202014
 

Widget for identifying which team to pick as champion, based on the size of your pool
If you don’t see the widget below, download the workbook.

Use this widget to decide which team(s) to pick for your entry champion(s), then fill in the rest of your bracket(s) using the most likely bracket below.

Most likely bracket for 2014
march-madness-bracket-2014

Cumulative survival rates for all 2014 tournament teams
South Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-FinalChampionship
1Florida94.9%71.2%50.8%34.2%22.8%13.0%
16Albany5.1%0.8%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Colorado29.8%5.4%1.7%0.5%0.1%0.0%
9Pittsburgh70.2%22.7%11.7%5.4%2.5%0.9%
5VCU73.9%40.1%15.2%7.3%3.4%1.3%
12Stephen F. Austin26.1%8.0%1.5%0.4%0.1%0.0%
4UCLA75.8%44.1%17.5%8.8%4.3%1.7%
13Tulsa24.2%7.8%1.4%0.4%0.1%0.0%
6Ohio St.68.5%39.5%18.7%7.7%3.7%1.4%
11Dayton31.5%12.5%3.8%1.0%0.3%0.1%
3Syracuse82.7%44.5%20.2%8.0%3.6%1.3%
14Western Michigan17.3%3.5%0.6%0.1%0.0%0.0%
7New Mexico57.3%21.2%10.0%3.5%1.4%0.4%
10Stanford42.7%13.3%5.4%1.5%0.5%0.1%
2Kansas90.2%63.4%41.1%21.3%12.4%6.0%
15Eastern Kentucky9.8%2.0%0.4%0.0%0.0%0.0%

East Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-FinalChampionship
1Virginia95.7%72.1%46.3%28.9%15.3%7.5%
16Coastal Carolina4.3%0.5%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Memphis51.9%14.5%5.6%2.1%0.6%0.1%
9George Washington48.1%12.8%4.7%1.7%0.4%0.1%
5Cincinnati59.7%29.6%12.7%6.0%2.3%0.8%
12Harvard40.3%16.3%5.6%2.1%0.6%0.2%
4Michigan St.80.5%48.8%24.0%13.1%5.9%2.4%
13Delaware19.5%5.3%1.1%0.3%0.0%0.0%
6North Carolina58.8%31.0%13.6%5.6%2.1%0.7%
11Providence41.2%18.3%6.5%2.2%0.6%0.2%
3Iowa St.74.5%42.7%20.1%9.1%3.6%1.3%
14North Carolina Central25.5%8.0%2.0%0.4%0.1%0.0%
7Connecticut63.4%26.6%14.0%5.9%2.2%0.7%
10Saint Joseph's36.6%11.2%4.4%1.3%0.3%0.1%
2Villanova91.0%60.7%39.2%21.3%10.5%4.7%
15Milwaukee9.0%1.5%0.2%0.0%0.0%0.0%

West Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-FinalChampionship
1Arizona95.6%69.4%54.5%39.2%23.9%15.4%
16Weber St.4.4%0.5%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Gonzaga49.2%14.7%8.5%4.2%1.6%0.7%
9Oklahoma St.50.8%15.5%9.1%4.6%1.8%0.7%
5Oklahoma65.7%33.9%9.8%4.3%1.4%0.5%
12North Dakota St.34.3%12.5%2.3%0.7%0.1%0.0%
4San Diego St.67.7%40.2%13.1%6.2%2.2%0.9%
13New Mexico St.32.3%13.5%2.6%0.8%0.2%0.0%
6Baylor61.6%24.7%11.2%3.6%1.1%0.4%
11Nebraska38.4%11.7%4.0%1.0%0.2%0.1%
3Creighton86.4%60.0%36.4%17.0%7.7%3.8%
14Louisiana Lafayette13.6%3.7%0.8%0.1%0.0%0.0%
7Oregon55.7%25.2%11.1%3.7%1.2%0.4%
10BYU44.3%17.7%6.9%2.0%0.5%0.2%
2Wisconsin81.8%52.0%28.5%12.4%5.2%2.4%
15American18.2%5.1%1.2%0.2%0.0%0.0%

Midwest Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-finalChampionship
1Wichita St.94.3%66.7%35.8%23.8%13.8%8.1%
16Cal Poly5.7%0.8%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Kentucky66.7%24.6%9.6%4.9%2.1%0.9%
9Kansas St.33.3%7.9%2.0%0.7%0.2%0.1%
5Saint Louis61.2%14.7%4.3%1.6%0.5%0.1%
12North Carolina St.38.8%6.7%1.4%0.4%0.1%0.0%
4Louisville87.1%73.0%45.6%32.8%20.8%13.4%
13Manhattan12.9%5.6%1.2%0.3%0.1%0.0%
6Massachusetts36.7%12.1%4.8%1.1%0.3%0.1%
11Tennessee63.3%28.3%14.9%4.9%1.9%0.7%
3Duke84.0%55.3%35.2%15.1%7.5%3.7%
14Mercer16.0%4.4%1.2%0.2%0.0%0.0%
7Texas54.1%21.0%7.5%1.8%0.5%0.1%
10Arizona St.45.9%16.2%5.2%1.1%0.3%0.1%
2Michigan91.3%61.5%31.1%11.3%4.8%2.1%
15Wofford8.7%1.4%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%

Win Probabilities are based on a composite of Pomeroy ratings and LRMC ratings. Any errors are mine.

 Posted by on March 20, 2014 at 10:35 am

Try the March Madness Fan Simulator widget to decide the champion in your pool entry

 basketball, March Madness  Comments Off on Try the March Madness Fan Simulator widget to decide the champion in your pool entry
Mar 192014
 

This is my perennial warning cautioning against going with the favorite: if you picked Florida as your champ, you probably already lost.

When you think probabilistically about your chance of winning a pool, with no skill your chance is 1/n, where n is the number of entries, including yours.

Given the traditional scoring of 1,2,4,8,16,32, the thinking goes that it behooves you to pick the champion, because that’s where the points are.

While that’s true, the problem with this thinking is you’re competing with all the other bandwagoners who also pick the same favorite. So your chance, with no skill, is no longer 1/n but 1/(1+Florida_picks)*Florida’s chance of winning it all.

Florida’s chance of winning it all ranges somewhere between 13% and 19%, but the percentage of ESPN and Yahoo pool entries that have Florida as the champ range between 29% and 37%.

Assuming Florida does win, whether you win the pool depends on how well you did in Rounds 1-5 versus the other 1/3 of entrants who also picked Florida.

Let’s say you’re in a pool with 24 other participants. Most likely, about 8 of them picked Florida. So your chance of winning is approximately 15%*1/9= 1.67%.

Consider instead (for a 24-person pool) picking Arizona, which has a similar Win Probability but only about 7% of entrants have picked them, or about 2 other entrants in this 24-person pool. Now your chance of winning is 15%*1/3 = 5%.

The math depends on your pool’s scoring, and the right way to do it is a full Monte Carlo simulation that you probably don’t have time for.

The March Madness Fan_Simulator widget might help. It will simulate the top 5 teams you should have picked as Champion given pools of different sizes. This is a scaled down model focused only on the Championship game, but for most pools it that’s good enough. Enter your pool size a few times to watch how the recommended teams change (or not).

 Posted by on March 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm

March Madness Pools

 March Madness  Comments Off on March Madness Pools
Mar 202013
 

Widget for identifying which team to pick as champion, based on the size of your pool
If you don’t see the widget below, download the workbook.

Use this widget to decide which team(s) to pick for your entry champion(s), then fill in the rest of your bracket(s) using the most likely bracket below.

Most likely bracket for 2014
march-madness-bracket-2014

Cumulative survival rates for all 2014 tournament teams
South Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-FinalChampionship
1Florida94.9%71.2%50.8%34.2%22.8%13.0%
16Albany5.1%0.8%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Colorado29.8%5.4%1.7%0.5%0.1%0.0%
9Pittsburgh70.2%22.7%11.7%5.4%2.5%0.9%
5VCU73.9%40.1%15.2%7.3%3.4%1.3%
12Stephen F. Austin26.1%8.0%1.5%0.4%0.1%0.0%
4UCLA75.8%44.1%17.5%8.8%4.3%1.7%
13Tulsa24.2%7.8%1.4%0.4%0.1%0.0%
6Ohio St.68.5%39.5%18.7%7.7%3.7%1.4%
11Dayton31.5%12.5%3.8%1.0%0.3%0.1%
3Syracuse82.7%44.5%20.2%8.0%3.6%1.3%
14Western Michigan17.3%3.5%0.6%0.1%0.0%0.0%
7New Mexico57.3%21.2%10.0%3.5%1.4%0.4%
10Stanford42.7%13.3%5.4%1.5%0.5%0.1%
2Kansas90.2%63.4%41.1%21.3%12.4%6.0%
15Eastern Kentucky9.8%2.0%0.4%0.0%0.0%0.0%

East Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-FinalChampionship
1Virginia95.7%72.1%46.3%28.9%15.3%7.5%
16Coastal Carolina4.3%0.5%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Memphis51.9%14.5%5.6%2.1%0.6%0.1%
9George Washington48.1%12.8%4.7%1.7%0.4%0.1%
5Cincinnati59.7%29.6%12.7%6.0%2.3%0.8%
12Harvard40.3%16.3%5.6%2.1%0.6%0.2%
4Michigan St.80.5%48.8%24.0%13.1%5.9%2.4%
13Delaware19.5%5.3%1.1%0.3%0.0%0.0%
6North Carolina58.8%31.0%13.6%5.6%2.1%0.7%
11Providence41.2%18.3%6.5%2.2%0.6%0.2%
3Iowa St.74.5%42.7%20.1%9.1%3.6%1.3%
14North Carolina Central25.5%8.0%2.0%0.4%0.1%0.0%
7Connecticut63.4%26.6%14.0%5.9%2.2%0.7%
10Saint Joseph's36.6%11.2%4.4%1.3%0.3%0.1%
2Villanova91.0%60.7%39.2%21.3%10.5%4.7%
15Milwaukee9.0%1.5%0.2%0.0%0.0%0.0%

West Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-FinalChampionship
1Arizona95.6%69.4%54.5%39.2%23.9%15.4%
16Weber St.4.4%0.5%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Gonzaga49.2%14.7%8.5%4.2%1.6%0.7%
9Oklahoma St.50.8%15.5%9.1%4.6%1.8%0.7%
5Oklahoma65.7%33.9%9.8%4.3%1.4%0.5%
12North Dakota St.34.3%12.5%2.3%0.7%0.1%0.0%
4San Diego St.67.7%40.2%13.1%6.2%2.2%0.9%
13New Mexico St.32.3%13.5%2.6%0.8%0.2%0.0%
6Baylor61.6%24.7%11.2%3.6%1.1%0.4%
11Nebraska38.4%11.7%4.0%1.0%0.2%0.1%
3Creighton86.4%60.0%36.4%17.0%7.7%3.8%
14Louisiana Lafayette13.6%3.7%0.8%0.1%0.0%0.0%
7Oregon55.7%25.2%11.1%3.7%1.2%0.4%
10BYU44.3%17.7%6.9%2.0%0.5%0.2%
2Wisconsin81.8%52.0%28.5%12.4%5.2%2.4%
15American18.2%5.1%1.2%0.2%0.0%0.0%

Midwest Region

SeedTeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Regional FinalSemi-finalChampionship
1Wichita St.94.3%66.7%35.8%23.8%13.8%8.1%
16Cal Poly5.7%0.8%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
8Kentucky66.7%24.6%9.6%4.9%2.1%0.9%
9Kansas St.33.3%7.9%2.0%0.7%0.2%0.1%
5Saint Louis61.2%14.7%4.3%1.6%0.5%0.1%
12North Carolina St.38.8%6.7%1.4%0.4%0.1%0.0%
4Louisville87.1%73.0%45.6%32.8%20.8%13.4%
13Manhattan12.9%5.6%1.2%0.3%0.1%0.0%
6Massachusetts36.7%12.1%4.8%1.1%0.3%0.1%
11Tennessee63.3%28.3%14.9%4.9%1.9%0.7%
3Duke84.0%55.3%35.2%15.1%7.5%3.7%
14Mercer16.0%4.4%1.2%0.2%0.0%0.0%
7Texas54.1%21.0%7.5%1.8%0.5%0.1%
10Arizona St.45.9%16.2%5.2%1.1%0.3%0.1%
2Michigan91.3%61.5%31.1%11.3%4.8%2.1%
15Wofford8.7%1.4%0.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%

Win Probabilities are based on a composite of Pomeroy ratings and LRMC ratings. Any errors are mine.

 Posted by on March 20, 2013 at 2:08 am

If you’re in a busted bracket pool, pick Wisconsin

 March Madness  Comments Off on If you’re in a busted bracket pool, pick Wisconsin
Mar 222011
 

Imputed survival rates for the remaining teams, using Pomeroy pythagorean ratings through Sunday March 20, are as follows:

Seed Team Pomeroy Elite 8 Final 4 Semis Champion
1 Ohio St. 0.9844 0.760 0.634 0.431 0.316
4 Kentucky 0.9523 0.240 0.148 0.062 0.030
11 Marquette 0.8952 0.362 0.059 0.014 0.004
2 North Carolina 0.9376 0.638 0.159 0.056 0.023
1 Duke 0.9763 0.837 0.576 0.297 0.192
5 Arizona 0.8894 0.163 0.050 0.010 0.003
3 Connecticut 0.9368 0.407 0.133 0.040 0.016
2 San Diego St. 0.9557 0.593 0.241 0.090 0.045
1 Kansas 0.9702 0.821 0.677 0.439 0.200
12 Richmond 0.8765 0.179 0.092 0.027 0.005
11 VCU 0.8193 0.353 0.060 0.013 0.001
7 Florida St. 0.8928 0.647 0.171 0.056 0.011
8 Butler 0.8504 0.200 0.056 0.014 0.002
4 Wisconsin 0.9579 0.800 0.486 0.254 0.095
3 Brigham Young 0.9424 0.561 0.271 0.122 0.037
2 Florida 0.9276 0.439 0.187 0.075 0.019

Over on Yahoo! they offer a Second Chance contest. Fan picks are mostly rational – slightly overvaluing Ohio State and Kansas, and slightly undervaluing Duke. But the real outlier is Wisconsin. Pomeroy ratings imply a nearly 10% chance of the Badgers winning the championship, while only about 1% of fans on Yahoo! have picked them.

If you’re submitting multiple entries, I recommend submitting entries with Wisconsin, Duke, and Ohio State as the champs. Don’t be surprised by an all Big 10 final.

 Posted by on March 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Fan pick distributions more rational this year than last year

 March Madness  Comments Off on Fan pick distributions more rational this year than last year
Mar 162011
 

Last year, Kansas and Duke were neck and neck as the Win Probability favorites heading into the tournament. However nearly 50% of fan picks on ESPN and over 50% of the picks on Yahoo! had Kansas as their champion. Which is why on March 19, 2010 I wrote the post: “Q: What’s Wrong With Selecting Kansas in Your Pool? A: You’ve Probably Already Been Eliminated” That was before Kansas was upset. My point was that even if Kansas ultimately were to win the championship, so many other entries had selected them that your pool’s winner would more likely be determined by early round points or tie-breaker rules. In effect, picking such an overwhelming fan favorite was tantamount to drawing a lottery ticket.

This year, fan picks are impressively more rationally distributed (if “rational” is defined as I define it: being in line with Pomeroy ratings.) Ohio State is the biggest favorite, but not out of proportion to its Win Probability. As I type this, some 26% of ESPN entries have Ohio State as the champ, as do some 31% of Yahoo! entries. This compares to a survival rate for OSU of some 24%.

What this means is picking Ohio State is not a lottery ticket this year. If you’re making only a single entry, you need a pretty wacky scoring method, or a pool in the hundreds or thousands to make an entry with OSU as the champ an irrational choice.

 Posted by on March 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm