|7 Florida is headed to the Elite 8|
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After fifty-two NCAA Tournament games (not counting the play-in round), we're right back where we started in November. Halfway through the Sweet 16, the two best performing systems—and the only two brackets that have outperformed chalk—are the AP and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls.
This may surprise some of you, but in fact this is not uncommon. As Nate Silver finds, teams that outperform their preseason rankings tend to underperform in the NCAA Tournament. Why? Preseason rankings lack the recency bias that plagues in-season polls (as well as algorithms in some rating systems).
And so it is that the preseason polls are the only two systems to surpass Pure Chalk in terms of ESPN Tourney Challenge points and percentile, in terms of their share of correct picks, and in possible points remaining. And with Michigan State's defeat at the hands of Louisville, the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll is one of two remaining systems with their Final Fours intact.
|1||ESPN/USA Today Preseason||UK||OSU||L'Ville||UNC||71.2%||1080|
|6||ESPN Decision Tree||UK||OSU||UNC||65.4%||1000|
|9||ESPN National Bracket||UK||OSU||UNC||65.4%||1000|
|9||ESPN/USA Today Postseason||UK||Cuse||UNC||65.4%||1000|
|17||ESPN Simulation Model||UK||OSU||KU||61.5%||1000|
|18||Nolan Power Index||UK||Cuse||UNC||55.8%||1000|
Not to pile on, but most systems came up short on last night's contests. The preseason polls were the only systems that went 4/4 in the first day of the Sweet 16.
One other system has tied Pure Chalk, but that system is another poll: the AP postseason poll. Two other systems have equaled chalk in the number of correct picks: Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore. Their smart picks were in earlier rounds, however, and therefore not as valuable in the Tournament Challenge format.
|1||ESPN/USA Today Preseason||230||200||160||0||0||0||UNC||1080||590||99.7||71.2%|
|6||ESPN Decision Tree||210||220||80||0||0||0||Kentucky||1000||510||89.3||65.4%|
|8||Sonny Moore||230||200||80||0||0||0||Ohio St||840||510||89.3||67.3%|
|9||ESPN National Bracket||220||200||80||0||0||0||Kentucky||1000||500||85.7||65.4%|
|9||ESPN/USA Today Postseason||220||200||80||0||0||0||Kentucky||1000||500||85.7||65.4%|
|17||ESPN Simulation Model||220||180||40||0||0||0||Kentucky||1000||440||52.2||61.5%|
|18||Nolan Power Index||190||160||80||0||0||0||Kentucky||1000||430||45.7||55.8%|
*Rank sorted by total points (Total), possible points remaining (PPR) and percentage of correct picks (Correct). "Pct" denotes where the brackets rank among the rest in the ESPN Tournament Challenge.
Tonight presents a new opportunity for major upsets and bracket carnage. Three double-digit seeds—Xavier (10), NC State (11) and Ohio (13)—will fight for a spot among the Elite. Meanwhile, one-seeds Kentucky and UNC, as well as two-seed Kansas, appear in the Final Four on at least one system-driven bracket. If any one of these powerhouses fall, check in tomorrow to see how it impacts the 2012 Rating Systems Challenge.
And if not, check in anyway—this is prime time for major shifts in everyone's NCAA Tournament pool.