Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bracket's out!

Alright, so those pesky play-in games are over and I can finally create my bracket. I spent a good hour contemplating the matchups and this is what I came up with:

Note: The bracket will only be viewable starting tomorrow after the first game of the tourney begins.

I am a very methodical bracketologist, at least for the first round of predictions. I have a list of steps that I follow to fill out my bracket. The most important rule in these steps is to never have preconceived notions that a team is going to win. Instead of writing in the winner first, I consider each matchup individually. This ensures that each game is given the proper consideration and the most likely winner moves on in the prediction.

I have a protocol that I follow for the first round. First, I always pencil in all the #1 and #2 seeds as victors; there's almost never an upset there. Then, I pencil in all of the #3 seeds, unless I strongly believe that a #14 can beat one of the #3s. I was very tempted with Belmont this year but I decided against it in the end, even if I do think that Georgetown is a perennial choker. If Iona had won, I would've penciled them in against Marquette, but they didn't and I ended up without a #14 over #3 upset, which is ok. Then I move on to the #4 seed games. Unless I have a strong feeling that a #13 has what it takes to knock off a #4, I write in all the #4s in the second round. This year, I believe Davidson has the best chance to pull off the victory, but I have them losing to Louisville still.

After the top 4 seeds, upsets start to fall. I try to pick at least 6 first round upsets (this year I have 7). I try to have one or two 5 vs 12 upsets (USF over Temple and Long Beach State over New Mexico this year) and one 6 vs 11 upset (NC State over San Diego State) because these are historical trends that usually come true each year. Basically, I play the probabilities in these 8 matchups and go with the historical statistics and my gut feeling.

7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9 matchups are essentially toss-ups, so I try to have 2 of each seed win to balance the odds and play to the historical probabilities. These games are often the ones that make the difference in the standings of the bracket competitions so I do pay close attention to these ones.

After completing the first round, I go through each matchup in the second. My general rules for the second round are:

  • Have one #1 seed lose (Michigan St this year, to Memphis)
  • Have one #2 seed lose - its ok if it is in the same region as the #1 seed (Duke, to Xavier)
  • Have at least one seed below 10 make it to the Sweet Sixteen (this year there are two: Xavier and NC State)
  • Have at least one 6 over 3 upset (Murray State over Marquette)
  • Have one region where seeds 1, 2, 3, 4 or 1, 2, 3, 5 all make it
  • #4 vs #5 matchups are toss-ups, just go with the gut feeling
  • Never try to "create" a matchup (I didn't go with Indiana over Wichita State even though I would love to see an Indiana-Kentucky rematch)
Then, I move on to picking the Sweet Sixteen. Here are my rules for this round:
  • No Cinderellas (under seed #5) move on to the Elite Eight unless they are unusually skilled or impressive
  • Have another #1 seed lose in this round (Syracuse)
  • Upsets (by a seed difference of more than 3) end here unless it involves a #1 seed losing
Picking the Final Four teams becomes very simple now. There are only four games, just go with your gut feeling in each. It doesn't matter if both or only one #1 seed gets into the Final Four. 

The Final Four should be picked similar to the Elite Eight, by breaking down the individual matchups and going with your gut feeling. There is no way to be right at this stage of the bracket filling process. 

And once you pick your national champion, you are done! Don't worry if your bracket seems weird, like it isn't what you expect it to be. When I saw that Missouri was my national champ, I did a double take. That can't be right, I thought to myself. But what you have to realize about the brackets is that it is not about the best team winning. It is about the path to get there. In my bracket, Missouri had the easiest path because it's region's #1 seed went down early and there were a slough of upsets in the region that allowed the Tigers to have an easy road to the Final Four. From there, it was just a gut feeling for me.

Good luck filling your bracket. Of course, after all this careful analysis on my part, I'll still be at the bottom half of the standings. But its ok, filling out the bracket was fun.


  1. Here is mine Vibe. You seem to have given it a lot of thought. I didn't think so hard. So, let's see how we each do :)

  2. Hey Vibe - Excellent job with your blog. You are a genius doing this analysis. Of course we all know this is all fair game and a big chance. But I am sure you are having fun with this just as I am.