March Madness Bracketology – 2018

March Madness Bracketology – 2018

Every year people sit down to fill out their March Madness brackets in hopes of beating their coworkers, friends, or random strangers at getting the most points possible from their brackets. Some people build in-depth models to gauge which teams are most likely to make it while others just choose something as arbitrary as school mascots or whether they’re an alumni of a school playing in it. I tend to take an approach similar to how I prepare other analytics; I choose a handful of important metrics and rank each team based on an average of these rankings.

The strategy

My strategy to win is based on finding the teams that are over seeded. These are typically teams with rich histories that get favored despite not fielding a good team in the current season or a team with a lot of athletic talent but not the wherewithal to stand up to intense pressure. Most refer to them as “bracket busters”, and those are the teams that will separate me from the others.

The three metrics I choose are

  1. Defensive rebounding
  2. Free throw percentage
  3. Three point shooting

Defensive rebounding is a good measure because being good on the boards is the only way to get back in a game if you’re down or to keep a lead against an opponent.

A high free throw percentage shows me that a team is well coached, that they can pull through a close game at the end, and that they can take advantage of a team having a bad foul night.

Three point shooting is the best way to bury a team early. Teams that can’t guard against good three point shooting have to change their defensive strategy to compensate, which can throw their game plan off.

Now let’s look at my predictions so far.

The over-seeded

Cincinnati: ranks low in all three categories in a weak conference, I think they’re going out early

Kansas: ranks low in all three categories and lost some games at home, wouldn’t expect them to get any better at crunch time

Michigan: average turnout in all categories, most people have them going all the way, I don’t see it

My bracket

My final four

Nevada: My sleeper team, they can nail the 3 and shoot well from the line

North Carolina: Xavier is a well rounded team but they get cold hands and don’t guard well against the 3, I expect UNC to push through but it’s going to be a toss up at the end of it given how well they match up

Villanova: a well rounded team with experience, I expect them to beat Purdue

Michigan State: good rebounders, I expect them to push through both Duke and Clemson

My champion

I expect UNC to beat Nevada and Michigan State. If UNC loses to Xavier, I’m not out anything because most people pick the 1 seed to get through the tournament anyway, but if I’m right I leave all of them in the dust by racking up points and getting separation.