22 March 2013

Rating Systems Challenge: Veritas in Ludo

This post is one in a series investigating how the various college basketball rating systems predict the men's NCAA Tournament. Click here to read the rest.

 14 Harvard shocked the world last night, eliminating New Mexico and probably more than a few brackets from competition.

Other than the two systems (Lunardi RPI, NCAA RPI) that put New Mexico in the Final Four, the Crimson victory had very little affect on the Rating Systems Challenge--none of the systems predicted this upset.

In fact, the several systems were more wrong than right on the topic of Thursday upsets. The three most favored upsets--Mizzou/CO State, St. Mary's/Memphis, Bucknell/Butler--failed to materialize.The systems also missed California's 12-5 upset over UNLV. Overall, the combined systems were a paltry 3/28 if you count only the upsets they predicted, 3/30 if you include the upsets they ignored altogether.

It wasn't a complete wash. Two systems (ESPN Computer, ESPN Decision Tree) correctly identified Oregon's 12-5 upset of Oklahoma State, while one system (NCAA RPI) picked 9 Wichita State over 8 Pittsburgh.

With so many swings and misses (air balls? bricks?), it is no surprise that the standings after one day's play are exceptionally chalky. Read past the jump for the leaderboard and additional analysis.

NCAA RPI benefited especially from picking Wichita State over Pittsburgh and for avoiding trendy upset picks such as Mizzou and 11 St. Mary's. RPI is the only bracket outperforming chalk, while the top of the leaderboard is occupied by exceptionally chalky systems such as the AP and ESPN postseason polls and the ESPN National Bracket.

Despite its early lead, NCAA RPI is already at a disadvantage due to its New Mexico Final Four pick. Traditional laggards such as Sonny Moore and Nolan Power trailed as usual. Perhaps most surprisingly, Las Vegas had an especially bad day at the races, correctly picking only 63% of the contests. Don't worry, I'm sure they found a way to make money anyway.

Today features five upsets that at least one system picked, including 12 Ole Miss, trailing by 3 at the half as this post goes to press, which the Nolan Power Index picked to overcome 5 Wisconsin. If 11 Minnesota or 10 Colorado completes their upsets, expect major changes on this leaderboard.

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