March Madness Analytics
For sports fans, the end of March is a highly anticipated time of year. Fans spend hours struggling over which team(s) will be this year’s “Cinderella” team or who has the best chance to make it to the Final Four. Fans are incentivized by the pride and/or prize from winning their March Madness pool. If you’re like most fans, you’ll do anything to get a leg up against your competition. We have good news. This year you don’t have to slip your “college basketball insider” some cash or pin down your young, basketball-obsessed nephew in order to get the insider information you need. Let’s take a look at how analytics can be your “secret weapon” as you make your picks this year and blow away the rest of your March Madness pool.
Predictive modeling is a technique used to predict future behavior and anticipate the consequences of change. Sites like Poologic.com and ThePowerRank.com crunch all the data available for each team in the tournament and give you the probability of each team winning. Fans often make the mistake of choosing their local team or alma mater. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying analytics will help you pick every single winner. Analytics provides you with an educated guess, a higher probability of being correct, or winning. Wouldn’t you want the highest probability of winning entering a bet or bracket pool?
Not All Upsets Are Equal
At this point you’ve probably thought to yourself (in a sarcastic tone), “So did analytics predict #15 seed Lehigh to beat #2 seed Duke?” Again, analytics will not make you pick every game correctly; it will give you the highest probability of winning the whole thing. Fans can get caught up in the “madness” of the first 2 rounds where upsets traditionally run rampant. We need to keep in mind that not all upsets are equal. Almost all March Madness pools increase the weight or points of each round, so you would be wise to focus on the teams that will make it to the Elite 8 or beyond vs. taking a high-risk upset pick in the first 2 rounds.In choosing your March Madness picks, as in the business world, analytics help you make fact-based decisions. We encourage you to incorporate analytics in your picks this year. Who knows, it might make the difference between winning and losing your pool.
Who are your Final Four picks this year?