Bracketologist

Bracketologist

BracketDobberSBN

Arlington, VA

Male, 34

I'm currently the resident bracketologist for SB Nation and I've been attempting to accurately project the NCAA Tournament field since 2006. My goal is not only to be correct in picking at-large teams and the seeding of all 68 teams, but to inform the public about the process and how the sometimes bashed college basketball regular season does really have importance. I'd be glad to answer your questions on how the field of 68 is put together, but I won't be much help with your bracket picks.

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Last Answer on May 03, 2013

Best Rated

How did you become a bracketologist? And given the randomness of March Madness outcomes, what makes any one college hoops fan more qualified to be a bracketologist than any other?

Asked by Pete T. over 4 years ago

One of my friends challenged me to put together a bracket when I was in grad school, in 2002. I put it aside for a few years and decided that I could probably do a good job if I did it more frequently. 

Any fan could probably do it, but most probably don't have the interest in rules, procedures and organizational minutiae that I do. It's not the simplest thing in the world to do, even if it looks like it.

If you had a REALLY inaccurate year picking the 68 teams, would your job be in jeopardy?

Asked by L-train over 4 years ago

Considering that I'm trying to predict the behavior of a group of 10 on my own, I wouldn't think so. Plus, the "picking 68 teams" is an exaggeration. In any given season, a maximum of four or five spots is really up for grabs at the end, and usually (like this season) it's a few less.

What's your background? Did you study and/or work in statistics and probability?

Asked by JSB over 4 years ago

I have more of a writing background than a statistical one, though I did a fair amount of statistical analysis in grad school. My focus was on judicial politics -- attempting to predict Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals decisions. Trying to predict the Selection Committee's behavior is actually rather similar. 

Sounds like the team selection process has improved over time, but what do you think the Committee still needs to improve upon?

Asked by boomshakala... over 4 years ago

The Committee really needs to stop pushing the RPI so much, since it's not a basketball-specific metric (the NCAA uses it for various sports to compare teams). It also creates an issue when evaluating schedules, particularly since everyone's RPI and SOS pull into one another and it creates a feedback loop.

On the schedule front, I think the numbers get too much emphasis over the intent. Take Virginia, for example. While there were several teams on the Cavaliers schedule who probably weren't going to be very good, they did schedule a few CAA teams that in most years would have been an RPI boost. Plus, they played two of them away from Charlottesville (at George Mason and Old Dominion on a neutral court). They got burned by those good intentions when the CAA turned out to be historically bad this season. In short, the Committee should recognize that not all "bad games" are created equal.

So much for Bucknell :(

What made you feel so strongly that they had a shot?

Asked by harumph over 4 years ago

Mike Muscala. He didn't have a good game at all and that really cost the Bison. Plus, I watch Butler a lot and wasn't really impressed with how they were playing late in the season.

Why focus only on predicting the field? Isn't projecting the winners where the majority of interest and value lies?

Asked by Falcons4Life over 4 years ago

In my case, I'm a college basketball fan first. So my goal is to primarily show that there is worth in the journey not just the destination. Otherwise, there are two different skill sets at play here. Mine examines the big picture body of work. Picking the bracket focuses more on the small picture. Given that the tournament is a crapshoot and unpredictable things can happen, I stick with what I know and can explain fairly well. 

Why do you think there've been five 15-2 upsets, but no 16-1's? Obviously they're both longshots, but there's no reason the difference should be THAT much, right?

Asked by corleone over 4 years ago

You wouldn't think so, but consider this. Often the 16s are at a disadvantage because there's a good shot they're unexpected winners from weaker leagues. This season, that description applies to all four teams that were placed in Dayton this season and Western Kentucky. A 15, on the other hand, typically comes from a conference that's a bit more competitive and often these teams also play a slightly stronger non-conference schedule that gives a bit of a boost, especially when it comes to experience when facing a top 8 team.