11 April 2014

Rating Systems Challenge: 2014 Review and Historical Results


Photo Credit: Puneet & Anshu Nanda

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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

In defeating the 8 Kentucky Wildcats last Monday night, the 7 Connecticut Huskies completed an improbable run for the 2014 National Championship. No system under review here picked Connecticut to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Along the way they beat three teams that at least one system put in the Final Four: Kentucky, 4 Michigan State and the top-seeded Florida Gators.

The surprise of a National Championship game featuring two schools whose seeds added up to fifteen resulted in the lowest scoring Rating Systems Challenge since 2011—when a 3rd-seeded Connecticut defeated an 8th-seeded Butler in a Final Four that included also included a 10th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth. The preseason polls defeated the other systems this year, but it was a Pyrrhic victory.

07 April 2014

Rating Systems Challenge: Coaches, Columnists Conquer Computers, Cash


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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

Hot dog, we have a wiener!

There were three upsets on Saturday. In the first, 7 Connecticut upended overall #1 seed Florida. In the second, the 8 Kentucky took down 2 Wisconsin. As a result of the first and second upsets, the AP and USA Today NCAA Basketball polls issued all the way back on November 4, 2013 (using chalk as a tiebreaker) succeeded in picking a more successful bracket than any competing system, be those systems advanced computer models, betting markets, or the opinions of the NCAA Selection Committee.

Perhaps (or perhaps not, as this is not really a new phenomenon) more surprisingly, those ninety-seven Associated Press and USA Today voters in November beat out the opinions of those same ninety-seven Associated Press and USA Today voters from three weeks ago.

05 April 2014

Rating Systems Challenge: Huskies, Wildcats Look to Sink Systems


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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

One big upset sent a rating system to the Great Bracket in the Sky last Sunday when 8 Kentucky's defeat of 2 Michigan eliminated Lunardi RPI's chances of winning the 2014 Rating Systems Challenge. No final standings were negatively impacted by 7 Connecticut's upset of 4 Michigan State, although it did deprive the ESPN National Bracket, FiveThirtyEight, Vegas and the preseason polls a chance to score some extra points and move up the percentile ladder.

Today's Final Four match-ups threaten to make or break the remaining contenders: Vegas, FiveThirtyEight or the preseason polls.

30 March 2014

Rating Systems Challenge: Badgers Break Brackets


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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

Saturday night was total bracket carnage as 2 Wisconsin upset 1 Arizona, demolishing every system's pick for the West region. So if every system picked Arizona to win their region, then the carnage should be evenly distributed, yes? No! Some systems had Arizona going farther than others. Pure Chalk and RPI put Arizona in the finals. BPI, Lunardi RPI, Pomeroy and Sagarin had Zona winning it all. These systems' prospects are now greatly diminished.

29 March 2014

Rating Systems Challenge: 'Cats are Wild as Vegas Takes 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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

Last night, twenty Final Four picks, eight finalist picks and five National Championship picks died in the span of just a couple of minutes when 4 Louisville and 1 Virginia were sent packing by 8 Kentucky and 4 Michigan State. And while they didn't shake up the top of the Rating Systems Challenge leaderboard too much, those upsets have major implications for most systems going forward.

28 March 2014

Rating Systems Challenge: Vegas, FiveThirtyEight Higher Flyers


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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

After the first day of the second week of NCAA Tournament Play, the FiveThirtyEight and Vegas systems remain atop the Rating Systems Challenge leaderboard. They were beneficiaries of their competitors' lack of faith in a certain short-legged omnivore. No big deal—there was little chance for a shakeup on the leaderboard last night, anyway. Tonight is different.

27 March 2014

Playing Pepper: Washington Nationals


Excuse me while I take a break from college basketball blogging.

Every year, Daniel Shoptaw, founder of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, does a roundup of season previews for each of the thirty MLB teams over at his Cardinals Conclave blog, C70 at the Bat. Despite the fact that I've only been blogging about baseball during the postseason (something I hope will change soon), he was nice enough to ask me to offer my comment on the Washington Nationals.

Head on over to Playing Pepper 2014: Washington Nationals to read what I and three other BBA colleagues have to say about baseball in the nation's capital this season.

Rating Systems Challenge: FiveThirtyEight Volunteers Best Bracket


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 2014 NCAA Tournament. Click here to check out the full series.

Heading into the second weekend of NCAA Tournament play, the FiveThirtyEight and Vegas brackets sit atop the leaderboard.* Interestingly enough, the spread between the best brackets and the worst is only three correct picks out of forty-eight. Will the spread get bigger as the systems start running into Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight match-ups that they simply didn't foresee?

*Though the LRMC Bayesian, USA Today Postseason and Sports Reference brackets have logged the same number of points as the two leaders, they have fewer points remaining, and thus poorer prospects going forward.