28 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Preseason Polls Gain Ground, Thanks to Louisville

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.

In the real world, Michigan State's (7) upset of Oklahoma (3) was probably the most exciting game of the night. In the 2015 Rating Systems challenge, that game didn't even leave a mark: not a single one of the systems I'm tracking picked the Spartans or the Sooners. Instead, the most important victory by a low seed was Louisville (4), which beat the NC State Wolfpack (8) in a game that every other system gave to Villanova (1).

While the ESPN Decision Tree bracket remains atop the standings, the postseason poll brackets have moved back into respectability. The USA Today Preseason Poll bracket has moved into sixth place, while the ninth place AP Preseason Poll leads all others in possible points remaining.

As a pool, the brackets continue to perform well: eighteen systems are outperforming chalk and nine have made more correct picks. The Rational Pastime ESPN Tournament Challenge pool move backed into the top ten after last night's action.

Heading into the Elite Eight, there are three possible true upsets and two schools that might advance to the Final Four despite not being their region's #1 seed.

The AP Postseason Poll picked Louisville to win their Elite Eight match-up at the start of the tournament, but the most favored upsets are Gonzaga (2) over Duke (1) and Arizona (2) over Wisconsin. Six systems (ESPN BPI, Massey Ratings, Nolan Power Index, LRMC Bayesian, Pomeroy, ESPN Computer and ESPN Decision Tree) picked Gonzaga to represent the South region in the Final Four, while ten systems (the preseason polls, Lunardi RPI, LRMC Bayesian, Pomeroy, Sonny Moore, ESPN Computer, ESPN Decision Tree, FiveThirtyEight and Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas line) picked Arizona to represent the West.

No systems picked Michigan State to reach the Final Four, and no system had any school but Kentucky (1) winning the Midwest.

The top brackets are well represented among the list of systems that picked upsets in the Elite Eight, so there's a good chance for major movement in the Rating Systems Challenge standings. Stay tuned to see how these systems perform.

Follow along between posts: check out the Rational Pastime Tournament Challenge Group.

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