Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Comparing Brackets (2012)

Hello, college basketball fans!

I have previously listed what I think about the NCAA Selection Committee bracket to my own bracket. Now I compare my bracket and the NCAA bracket to the consensus of bracketologists all across the web (the Bracket Matrix).

As always, I'd like to thank Bracket Project and Brian for putting this all together. It's a tough job to do but I and I hope many of you appreciate the fine work he does.

This was the first year I recall there were over 100 brackets listed (this year 115). The brackets are ranked based on whether or not they match the overall NCAA's brackets. Of course, this assumes the Selection Committee is "right". I tend to think the combined votes of 115 independently made brackets is more accurate than a committee of ten people. I can say myself that Team X should have gotten a bid over Team Y, but that's one man's opinion. But if many brackets had Team X and the NCAA didn't, then of course you can say Team X got screwed.

In comparing the Bracket Matrix bracket to the NCAA's, they differed on only one team. Last year, the matrix and the NCAA's differed on three teams. On the other hand, the team that the NCAA chose was Iona. Out of 115 brackets, only seven (7) chose Iona (about 6% of brackets). They in fact are the most questionable NCAA selection since 2006. I am personally hoping BYU pounds Iona in the game tonight to show how stupid the NCAA was in picking them.

Who should have been chosen in Iona's place? I personally disagree, but the team with the biggest beef would be Seton Hall. Seton Hall was chosen on 65 brackets (56.5%). Drexel (who I did have in my Schmolik 64) was chosen on 52 brackets (45.2%). Marshall was the next most chosen among teams that the NCAA rejected. I was torn between BYU and Marshall and Drexel as the one to leave out if St. Bonaventure won (which they did). BYU was chosen by 96 brackets (83.4%). Marshall was chosen by only 16 (13.9%). Still, Marshall was chosen by more than twice as many brackets as Iona. In fact, six teams that didn't make the NCAA field received more votes than Iona. One was Washington, but the Matrix brackets didn't particularly like the Huskies either. Only eight brackets thought Washington belonged in the field.

As for seeds, the NCAA got all four #1 seeds and all four #2 seeds right. There was some disagreement between the #3's and #4's. The Bracket Matrix thought Michigan and Louisville were 3's and Georgetown and Florida State were 4's while the NCAA's thought backwards. However, the NCAA and Bracket Matrix agreed on all sixteen of the "Sweet 16" seeds.

I think the Selection Committee did a great job with seeding overall. They only seeded four teams more than two places away from the Bracket Matrix seeds (Memphis, Harvard, and BYU were underseeded and Colorado was overseeded). Everyone else was either exact or within one seed line.

Actually, if you go by the NCAA's actual 1-68 list (which was available for the first time ever), BYU was ranked 48th. So they essentially should have been a 12 seed, not a 14. I believe the NCAA wanted to send the BYU/Iona winner to a Thursday site (since BYU prefers not to play on Sundays) but all of the 12 and 13 seeds were scheduled for either a western site (Albuquerque or Portland) that would be way too far away from Dayton or Nashville (which plays on Sunday). So they had to seed the winner as a 14 (I myself was surprised to see the two teams on the 14 line) since . Maybe an 11 seed would have made more sense as it would have been just one seed difference.

I think the committee did a great job except for Iona, one of their biggest blunders ever.

As for those who believe the NCAA is right and a bracketologist is good if they agree with the committee, I ranked as one of the best brackets this year, based on the Paymon score. I left out two NCAA selections (Iona and BYU). But my score was higher than CBS Sports' Jerry Palm (329), ESPN's Joe Lunardi, and the brackets of Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Rivals, and Yahoo Sports (people who assumedly are paid to do this for a living). I don't usually toot my own horn but that's because I rarely get a chance to.

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