06 April 2015

Playing Pepper: The 2015 Washington Nationals

Nationals Park • Photo Credit: Me

Baseball season is upon us!

At 4:05 PM EDT the Washington Nationals will open their season at home against the New York Metropolitans. As I did last year, I contributed a few words about the Nationals' upcoming season for Daniel Shoptaw at Cards Conclave. Dave Nichols at District Sports Page shares his thoughts as well.

We cover the Nats' offseason, their strengths and weaknesses, expectations for Bryce Harper, who we expect to break out and where we expect the team to be come October. Head on over and give it a look.

Rating Systems Challenge: National Championship Game Will Crown ESPN National Bracket or Lunardi RPI


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

The bad news is that Wisconsin's (1) upset of undefeated Kentucky (1) killed Sagarin's chances of winning the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge. The good news is that we're not done yet. Lunardi RPI, the only system to pick Duke (1) to win it all, can leapfrog to the top of the standings with a Blue Devils win tonight.


Should Wisconsin cut the nets tonight, it will be the first time since before WWII, and it will mean a victory for the ESPN National Bracket. No matter what, ten systems will have outperformed chalk this March (and April): an admirable performance.

04 April 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Sagarin, ESPN National Bracket and Lunardi RPI Face off in Final Four


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

While exciting, and with the exception of Michigan State's (7) upset of Louisville (4), last week's Elite Eight action was a rather chalky affair. And since no systems picked Sparty to advance to the Final Four, the only systems that might have benefited from a low-seed victory (the preseason polls) instead fell out of contention as the Cardinals' run ended.


In fact, there are only three systems that still have a chance to win the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge: Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings, ESPN's National Bracket, and Lunardi RPI.

29 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Chalky Day, Advantage Sagarin


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Yesterday was a day of reckoning for several of the systems in the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge. The ten that picked Arizona (2) to upset Wisconsin (1) were disappointed, and suffered heavily in the standings.



28 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Preseason Polls Gain Ground, Thanks to Louisville


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

In the real world, Michigan State's (7) upset of Oklahoma (3) was probably the most exciting game of the night. In the 2015 Rating Systems challenge, that game didn't even leave a mark: not a single one of the systems I'm tracking picked the Spartans or the Sooners. Instead, the most important victory by a low seed was Louisville (4), which beat the NC State Wolfpack (8) in a game that every other system gave to Villanova (1).


While the ESPN Decision Tree bracket remains atop the standings, the postseason poll brackets have moved back into respectability. The USA Today Preseason Poll bracket has moved into sixth place, while the ninth place AP Preseason Poll leads all others in possible points remaining.


27 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Decision Tree Takes the Lead


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Last night's tilt between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3) and the Wichita State Shockers (7) played the role of decider at the top of the Rating Systems Challenge standings. The leading bracket heading into the contest, Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas line, banked on Wichita State. The other three leaders, ESPN Decision Tree, Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore, all had Notre Dame. Though the Shockers kept it close, the Irish prevailed in the end, giving the ESPN Decision Tree bracket the lead (tied in total points with Sagarin and Sonny Moore, Decision Tree has more possible points remaining).


25 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Systems Divided over Shockers, Fighting Irish


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Heading into the Sweet Sixteen we have a four-way tie atop the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge leaderboard. Pinnacle's Thursday-morning Vegas line, ESPN Insider's Decision Tree, Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore lead the pack (Decision Tree has more possible points remaining and Pinnacle's line has nailed more correct picks).

Whether these systems maintain their lead going forward largely depends on picking the right upsets. Thanks to Kansas' surprise collapse in the second round, either winner of Thursday night's Notre Dame (3) vs. Wichita State (7) match-up will count as an upset with the chance to disrupt brackets.


23 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Vegas, ESPN Decision Tree Pace Field


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

We're through two rounds of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and we have four systems leading the pack. The ESPN Decision Tree (an ESPN Insider tool for picking brackets) Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Sonny Moore's ratings and Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas lines top the standings with 480 total points.* Perhaps, however, the bigger story is just how well most of the systems have performed thus far.

*The Vegas bracket remains the official top bracket in the Rating Systems Challenge, since that system has picked more winners through forty-eight games. ESPN Decision Tree occupies the second spot due to its relative surplus of possible points remaining.