In 1997, I won my company’s March Madness pool and that’s the last time that one of my brackets did not turn into a sea of red by the end of the first weekend. I blame Gonzaga. Since they started getting into the tournament, they never do what I predict and the downward spiral begins. So, this year I decided to avoid going with my gut or listening to analysts, since the results have been disastrous. It is time for drastic action; it’s time to be more scientific.
My decision to try a new process coincides with my work with IBM’s cloud analytics service that anyone can use for free (with limitations) just by registering at www.watsonanalytics.com. You can upload a spreadsheet of data and get information about it with the service, which is called Watson Analytics. I’m a subscriber to Ken Pomeroy’s data (http://kenpom.com/), so I decided to use his data combined with win-loss records and upload it into Watson Analytics to help me fill out my NCAA bracket.
I uploaded the data and decided to use the predict function to see what most influenced wins. I decided to do a very simple analysis where I would simply see what 1 factor was most likely to affect wins based on Pomeroy’s data. After discarding the information that losses were a strong predictor of wins, I found that Pomeroy’s PythagRank was the next strongest predictor of wins.
So, I filled out my bracket based on Pomeroy’s Pythagorean Ranking. It’s not full of huge surprises, but it’s interesting and it has teams going far in the tournament that I would not have picked on my own. So maybe I’ll have more success with this one. I’m also considering creating another bracket based on a combination of factors such as RankPythag and RankTempo, which Watson Analytics tells me is an even stronger predictor of wins.
For now, I’m going to post screen shots of my bracket where the winners of each game was picked based on Pomeroy’s Pythagorean rank, and I’ll return after the first four and next round of games happen to see how this bracket is doing.
Final Four and Champions
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my friend Mark Buerger has suggestions for people who would like human help with their brackets. (Hi, buerg!) After all, the human element is rarely more evident than during March Madness.