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.

For the first time since the start of the Tournament, only a minority of the systems' National Championship picks are alive. This means the race for best bracket is starting to resolve itself. At first glance, the Vegas bracket seems to have a lock on the Rating Systems Challenge. They are certainly in a great position: if the favorites win out, Vegas takes the cake. But not so fast… The preseason polls may be hanging out in 16th place, but they're well-positioned for an upset. If 8 Kentucky wins out, the USA Today and AP Preseason Polls will take the 2014 Rating Systems Challenge crown.

And then there's Lunardi RPI.

Today's differentiator is 2 Michigan's matchup against Kentucky. Most of the systems in the Challenge picked neither of these squads to advance to the Final Four. If Michigan wins, that will put Lunardi RPI ahead of all other systems with a good chance at winning the contest. Also relevant is 4 Michigan State vs. 7 Connecticut. A Husky win would cost Vegas, FiveThirtyEight, the ESPN National Bracket and the preseason polls major points, giving Lunardi RPI an even better shot at the Rating Systems Challenge top spot.

How will today's games affect the rating systems' chances going forward? Check back Saturday—or follow along on Twitter—to find out.

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