Bracket or Bust

We are not sports fans. We are not basketball enthusiasts. But we did want to win the NCAA bracket. We’ve heard from our classmates that some of the more researched and best thought-out picks are actually not successful. While more serious competitors choose the teams with the best players or home teams, our choices were completely subjective – we based our draft picks on coolest mascot.

One student, Jack Levy, picked his teams based on the team’s RPI (ranked power index) and BPI (espn power index). Levy mentioned that the 1st and 2nd seeds usually win the first game, and the 3rd seeds usually win, but it is not guaranteed. His results were okay, but they weren’t likely to win him any awards. Levy was upset because Syracuse had more top 25 wins than USC, but didn’t make it into the bracket. For the final four, Levy explained that one wants to pick an underdog; Levy chose Oregon, which ended up being successful. In games with 6 or 11 seed teams, and 5 or 12 seed teams, Levy describes there is often an “upset” in these games because it is hard to tell which team is going to win. It takes him 3 to 4 days to make his picks, from selection Sunday until the first day of games. Some teams that surprised this year were South Carolina, Michigan, Louisville, and while he picked Kentucky to win the whole thing, they ended up losing in a buzzer beater against North Carolina.

If Levy could have chosen his picks different, he expressed that he would have chosen either North Carolina or Gonzaga to make it in the final four. While many people had Arizona in their final four, he did not have them, nor would he have chosen them if he were to redo it. Levy also told us that he would not have chosen a Duke v.s. Villanova game, which a lot of people had as well. Next year, Levy predicts that the most successful teams for this year will not necessarily win next year because Oregon and Gonzaga’s best players are graduating. He is looking forward to next year’s bracket and hopes that it will be more successful than this year’s.

Another student, Jack Posner, shared with us that he read a lot of articles online to choose his teams, and ended up being successful based on several analyst picks, upset picks, and lots of luck. Posner had two brackets: a serious bracket and a joke bracket. His serious bracket that took him time and energy to research was eliminated in the first round, but when he checked his joke bracket around the time of the Sweet 16, he saw that he was in the 100th percentile. This meant Posner was in the highest place in pool of one thousand people.

This year was interesting because he called the Villanova upset and University of South Carolina “making a deep run.” Posner shared that he used intuition in his picks, but he does know a great deal about college basketball. Most people go with what most logically will happen, which is essentially determined by how teams match up against each other, and Posner was very lucky in this regard. Posner continued to be successful as the games went on and ended up in the 99th percentile, which is incredible. Unfortunately, Posner doesn’t currently know the national poll because it is not shared who won. He did share with us that he made a lot of money from this experience.

Overall we learned that, although our joke bracket with the best mascots was not successful, there is potential for a joke bracket to win over a heavily researched bracket. See our bracket below, which had Duke to win it all. They were upset in the second round.


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