How did you go about your selections? Were any analytics used? What basketball metrics do you think are most important?
- I make most of my picks based off of the prediction models from FiveThirtyEight.com (538), a blog featuring political and sports analytics created by Nate Silver. Silver has done some great predictions for presidential elections in the past (he is famous for predicting a Trump win in 2016 when most polls failed to do so). Although I haven’t won a bracket based on his March Madness picks, I still have been in the top 3 every year. 538’s prediction methods are more complicated than I am able to fully explain here, but basically, they use six different rankings from other predictor sites based on factors. like teams’ wins/losses and margin of victory, and compose them into one to make their predictions. I absolutely love their visualizations of the data as well. More information on their methodology can be found here: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-our-march-madness-predictions-work-2/. If I had to give the most weight to a single metric, it would probably be wins/losses over the longest period of time I would have available. My second “fun” bracket is made by more arbitrary rules such as, “which mascot would win in a fight”?
What you think will be the most shocking upset in the first round?
- I just read that Alabama has had a murder scandal that may be tied to several of their team members. This could potentially create some obstacles for them mentally or because their top players won’t be able to play. It would be sad if it happens, but given that they are the number one seed in their section, this could potentially lead to a huge upset! Although, 538 says the most likely upset will be Utah over Missouri…
Who is your sleeper Final Four team that isn’t a 1 or 2 seed?
- Since my all-time favorite teams are already number 1 and 2 seeds (Kansas and UCLA), I’m going to go with the 538’s “analytics darling”, St. Mary’s, with a 25-7 Win/Loss record.
What is the March Madness moment that stands out most vividly in your memory? And why does it stick with you?
- UCLA’s run in 2021 was absolutely fascinating! I loved watching their team advance even if they were underdogs for at least three of those games! I’m quite short, so I always love watching the shorter players and how they are able to compete at that level. For example, Tyger Campbell from UCLA, even though he is 5 ft 11, was able to average 10.4 points and 5.4 assists per game in 2020-2021! He is definitely my favorite to watch!
Which team has the best mascot?
- The mascot which would win in a fight every time would be the Purdue mascot, a train, and my favorite quote from a fan is “y’all are about to get run over!”. Honorary mentions are Gonzaga’s bulldog because I was a bulldog my high school and college years and Western Kentucky’s “Big Red”, because it’s just a big red blob!
How do you think you will do against Rowi in the Bracket?
I actually think Rowi’s Looney Tunes bracket might be able to beat mine – or at least be close! Although I based both of our brackets off of 538’s predictions, whenever there was a more even chance of a team winning (like greater than a 70/30 split), I would think of which mascot Rowi would like best. Since Rowi is pretty much scared of anything that’s not a human or a dog, I picked those over the other mascots, with Tennesse, having an actual dog as their mascot, being her ultimate winner. In my bracket, I picked UCLA to win the entire tournament because that’s my favorite team. 538 gives UCLA a 4% chance of getting first while it gives Tennessee a 2% chance of winning.