Ahh the memories.
In a matter of hours, millions of fans around the country will be glued to the TV for the official tip of March Madness. Snack foods are being devoured, beers are being consumed by the dozens, and more importantly, brackets are being finalized all around the nation. Filling out NCAA brackets is a yearly tradition for many around the country because it combines so many random factors. Bragging rights over your horrible co-workers? Check. Actual incentive to cheer for a random SWAC team? Check. Potential to win tons of money? Big Check. It’s this factor that drives a majority of the people around the nation to fill out a bracket, and everyone has their trademarked way of victory. Some pick by seed, some pick by streak, and others even pick by mascot, but there’s a growing trend among the prediction world; computer simulations. In recent years, numerous statisticians have created complex computer rating systems that have predicted outcomes with great success. However, many dispute which system is the most accurate in predicting the future.
Since so many nerds like myself cannot seem to decide which set of ratings reigns supreme, I’ve combined the most popular systems. Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin, ESPN’s BPI, and Georgia Tech’s LRMC ratings all have their strengths and weaknesses, but most agree these are the most reliable systems available in predicting future performance. Since these systems use margin of victory in their calculations, the NCAA cannot use them to seed teams (although some on the committee admit to examining them). Because of this, there’s often a discrepancy between seeding and actual skill level. So in order to find out who’s over and underrated, I’ve combined these systems and created a power ranking list to see where a team theoretically “should” be seeded. The below chart contains the remaining 64 teams and shows if they’re overvalued, undervalued, or rated accordingly.
(Teams highlighted in green are undervalued, teams highlighted in red are overvalued, and un-highlighted teams are accurately seeded.)
Interestingly enough, the three schools representing the SEC (Florida, Mizzou, and Ole Miss) are all undervalued by seeding. St. Mary’s and Pittsburgh are also vastly underrated by their seed. Teams on the opposite end of the spectrum like Butler, UCLA, and Illinois are all highly over-seeded according to the computer rating average. While some are “incorrectly” seeded, for the most part, the committee did an outstanding job placing teams where they belong.
It may be last minute, but these seeding discrepancies may just be what your bracket needs to be taken over the edge this year. However, be careful when making your selections. Ole Miss may very well be an underrated team according to this model, but they’re taking on a (perceived) much better Wisconsin team in their
first second round game. Beware of match-ups like these and your bracket may actually stand a chance after all.