Site of the 2013 Final Four
Source: Wikimedia Commons
While tonight's contest will feature a battle between two squads of college students who represent the pinnacle of their sport, the winner will also determine whether the best prognosticators of NCAA Tournament Basketball were a council of experts—the survey samples for the ESPN and AP Preseason Polls—or advanced models developed by Nate Silver and ESPN.
In The Signal and the Noise, author Nate Silver makes a convincing argument that experts are typically bad prognosticators and groups of experts are seldom better. Instead, we should look at rigorous, testable models based on objective, verifiable data. However, even advanced models can fail to predict outcomes in low-information systems where minor variations can cascade into major disruptions.
Weather forecasting is one attempt to simplify such a system. Forecasting tournament play in sport is another.