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.
By far, the systems prefer the Fighting Irish: the postseason polls, Lunardi RPI, Massey, ESPN Decision Tree and National Bracket, Jeff Sagarin, Sonny Moore, Ken Pomeroy and Sports References' Adjusted Rating System all put Notre Dame in the Elite Eight. Opposing them are the Vegas and Nolan Power Index Brackets, which had the Shockers reaching the Elite Eight from the get-go. The remaining systems had Kansas advancing, and are vulnerable from a points remaining standpoint.
The result of this match-up has major implications for the top of the standings, with all four leaders picking either Wichita State or Notre Dame. A "Shocker" in Cleveland may award the Vegas bracket sole possession of first place.
The brackets based on preseason polls have been underwhelming so far, but they could improve their positions should the Louisville Cardinals (4) overcome the North Carolina State Wolfpack (8). The remainder of the systems picked the Villanova Wildcats (1) who were upset last weekend.
Stay tuned to see how these systems perform in Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight action.
Follow along between posts: check out the Rational Pastime Tournament Challenge Group.