19 March 2012

Rating Systems Challenge 2012: Chalk Prevails through Round of 32

13 Ohio Bobcats logo.
Schools from Ohio are 8-0 so far.
Image credit: Wikipedia
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Once again, chalk rules despite the prevalence of upsets in the 2012 NCAA Tournament (the AP Postseason bracket is tied with Pure Chalk in terms of total points, but trails in possible points remaining). It's not that the other systems didn't pick any upsets, it's that they picked the wrong upsets.

Turns out, it's very hard to pick the big upsets. A few systems will get the 8-9 and 7-10 match-ups right. And as we saw a couple days ago, quite a few of the brackets successfully picked NC State, an 11 seed now headed to the Sweet Sixteen.

But only one system (Nolan Power Index) had 13 Ohio beating 4 Michigan, and that system is still dead last. No systems predicted the success of 15 Lehigh, 13 Norfolk State or 12 USF.

Moreover, most of the upsets that the least chalky brackets picked didn't come through. Nolan Power and AP Preseason put 14 Belmont in the Sweet Sixteen. Nolan Power also picked 12 Harvard to upset 5 Vanderbilt and 13 Davidson to oust 4 Louisville while sending Murray State to the Final Four. ESPN/USA Today's Preseason Poll put 12 VCU in the Sweet Sixteen.

Those were the big upset picks of our three least chalky systems, and none of these predictions came true (although ESPN/USA Today's Preseason Poll almost hit paydirt with VCU). Only the AP Preseason poll hasn't suffered for it, so far.


Rank System R64 R32 S16 E8 FF NCG Champion PPR Total Pct
1 Pure Chalk 220 220 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1200 440 92.4
2 AP Postseason 220 220 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1120 440 92.4
3 AP Preseason 210 220 0 0 0 0 UNC 1240 430 86.1
3 ESPN/USA Today Preseason 230 200 0 0 0 0 UNC 1240 430 86.1
5 Jeff Sagarin 230 200 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1200 430 86.1
5 Sonny Moore 230 200 0 0 0 0 Ohio St 1200 430 86.1
5 Vegas 210 220 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1200 430 86.1
8 ESPN Decision Tree 210 220 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1120 430 86.1
9 ESPN CBPI 220 200 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1200 420 79.0
9 ESPN National Bracket 220 200 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1120 420 79.0
11 ESPN/USA Today Postseason 220 200 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1120 420 79.0
11 Lunardi RPI 200 200 0 0 0 0 UNC 1240 400 61.0
13 Pomeroy 220 180 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1240 400 61.0
14 ESPN Simulation Model 220 180 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1200 400 61.0
15 FiveThirtyEight 220 180 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1120 400 61.0
16 ESPN InsideRPI 200 180 0 0 0 0 Syracuse 1240 380 41.8
17 LRMC Bayesian 200 180 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1200 380 41.8
18 Nolan Power Index 190 160 0 0 0 0 Kentucky 1120 350 19.5

*Rank sorted by total points (Total) and possible points remaining (PPR). "Pct" denotes where the brackets rank among the rest in the ESPN Tournament Challenge.

Considering that, last year, the only system to outperform chalk was the ESPN National Bracket, the evidence seems to indicate that bracket entrants shouldn't rely on the advanced systems alone to pick their upsets for them.

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