Monday, April 7, 2014

Reviewing the Rankings Challenge: A Recap and a discussion of Poll of Polls

The Tournament came to a close tonight with a surprising winner in Connecticut, so it's time to recap the Rankings Challenge and determine a winner.

First, I'll quickly run through the computers' Final Four projections:

Only ESPN BPI projected a Kentucky victory over Wisconsin.
All computers incorrectly predicted Florida would handle UCONN.
Only myself, Massey & Silver predicted that UCONN would defeat Kentucky tonight.

The final standings:

Silver (Champion)
KenPom -4
Stanford - 4
Massey - 4
Trevor - 5
Myself - 6
ESPN BPI - 6
Sagarin -7

At least I didn't finish last.

The finish raises an interesting question about Silver's method.  Was he really that much better?  In a way, his dominance comes with an asterisk.  Due to the number of permutations, I hadn't gone through and analyzed hypothetical match-ups on Silver's site; as each round came up, I looked at who Silver had winning each game (except for his initial Final 4 & Championship projection).  What I initially failed to take into account is that Silver's bracket updated with new information; something that the other 7 computers did not have.  Essentially, Silver's projection had a head start on the rest of the computers by the end.

Silver's blog (the FiveThirtyEight) has since released an archive of their various projections.

I went back and cross-checked their initial projections against what their up-to-date projection had and they flip-flopped on four picks (Iowa State-UConn, Michigan-Kentucky, Uconn-Kentucky, Dayton-Stanford) to the correct pick.  If you were to use their initial projection, the new standings look quite a bit differently:

Silver (Co-Champion)
KenPom (Co-Champion)
Stanford (Co-Champion)
Massey - (Co-Champion)
Trevor -1
Myself -2
ESPN BPI -2
Sagarin -3

Using this adjustment, Silver is effectively co-champion as opposed to outright champion and no computer embarrassed itself (unlike the RPI last year).

As the FiveThirtyEight notes in their initial preview, the projection's core methodology is centered around other projections.   For kicks, I stripped Silver's projections from the rest and built a poll of the remaining 7 computers and what I found was fascinating (to me at least).  The poll of the 7 computers would have also been a co-champion of the contest.  This seems to confirm that whenever possible, multiple (and even diverging) points of views and projections should be used.

This was a fun exercise and I expect that I will repeat it next year.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Elite 8 Preview from the Computers

The standings:

Silver (Leader)
KemPom - 3
Stanford -3
Massey - 4
Trevor - 4
Myself - 6
ESPN BPI - 6
Sagarin - 6

The East Region has really been where Silver picked up ground.  Every time there was a split vote, Silver got it right.

In the South, all computers pick Florida to advance to the Final Four. 
In the West, all computers project Arizona to advance to the Final Four.

These two were unanimous picks to reach the Final Four at the beginning.  All but Silver have their original champion alive.

In the East, all computers project Michigan State to advance to the Final Four.  If Michigan State wins, Silver would increase his lead on the other computers.
In the Midwest, Silver & ESPN BPI take Kentucky; all other computers take Michigan.

The unanimous final projection by all computers is Arizona-Florida.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Computers preview the Sweet 16 & Elite 8

South

All computers take Florida over UCLA

Trevor, Silver & myself expect the Flyers to continue their Cinderella run against Stanford; the other 5 take Stanford.

Florida is heavy favorites to reach the Final 4.

East

 Silver & Stanford take Sparty over Virginia; the other 6 computers project that Virginia will survive.  KenPom, Massey & myself still hold the possibility of getting a Final 4 bonus point from Virginia; Silver still holds the possibility of a Final 4 Bonus point from Sparty.

Silver stands alone on picking UConn if you're looking for an upset.

All computers except Stanford and Trevor expect that the winner of Virginia-Michigan State will carry the region; those two computers expect Iowa State to carry the region.

Midwest

All computers project Louisville to beat Kentucky.

KenPom stands alone in projecting Tennessee to beat Michigan; Tennessee was 11th overall in his last pre-Tournament ranking.

Trevor is the only computer to have Michigan in the Final Four at this junction; all other computers project Louisville to take the region.

Stanford, KenPom, Sagarin, Silver & myself still have a chance to get the Final 4 Bonus Point from Louisville.

West

As you might expect, all computers expect an Arizona-Wisconsin showdown in the Elite 8.  All computers had Arizona reaching the Final 4 originally.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rankings Challenge Update 3/21/14

After finishing first in last year's Challenge, I now sit in last place.


All 8 computers are in agreement that all the higher seeded teams will win their games this weekend (assuming that UCLA holds on).

The standings:

KenPom/Silver - leads
Silver - 1 back
Stanford/Massey/Trevor - 2 back
Sagarin - 3 back
ESPN BPI - 4 back
Andrade - 5 back

Of the computers that are being used for the Challenge this year, KenPom finished last in 2013.

I have no idea if this means anything. 




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rankings Challenge Update 3/20/14

So far here are the standings.

Massey (leader).  Massey has taken the lead on the strength of getting all of the First Four games correct.  His faith in NC State was justified.
KenPom -1
Silver -1
Trevor - 1
KenPom & Silver got all but the NC State game right of the play-ins.  Trevor started with a leg up due to his accuracy in predicting the field, but both of the teams he felt didn't deserve to be in won their first Tournament game, so Silver/KenPom have upside that he does not.
Sagarin -2
Stanford -2
ESPN BPI - 2
All of these computers incorrectly missed the Iowa-Tennessee and Xavier-NC State games.
Myself -3
After winning this "challenge" last year, I am presently bringing up the rear.  Ugh. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

NCAA Tournament Preview

Editing Note:  A prior version of this listed St. Joe's as a team that computers felt did not deserve to be in the Tournament.  St. Joe's won the A-10 Tournament and therefore receives an automatic bid.  Those teams are excluded from that section.

Last year, I ran a "rankings challenge" where I compared myself head to head against a number of prominent computers.  This year, I intend on doing the same, except I'll provide a bit more analysis & dialogue.

The challenge is intended to measure accuracy at predicting the Tournament field, as well as the Tournament itself.

Last year's challenge, included myself, Sagarin, Massey, ESPN BPI, RPI, my friend Trevor's rankings and Ken Pomeroy's rankings.   Nate Silver's rankings and Stanford's rankings from the The Massey Composite have been added.  This year the RPI is not used after finishing as the worst predictor last year.  All the rankings that I will be using in this challenge exist there - with the exception of Silver who's projections has been previously linked.  The Massey Composite is a pretty cool reference; it hosts the rankings of 40-60 computers per week over the College Basketball season and he is kind enough to host a nobody like me. 

Scoring is awarded as follows:

Every correct game = 1 point.
Predicting the champion is a point.
Predicting a Final Four team is a point.
Up to 3 bonus points can be awarded for correctly projecting who made the Tournament.  If 3 or more teams are incorrect, the computer is awarded 0 points; 2 incorrect teams = 1 point, 1 incorrect team = 2 points.  If, however, a team that the computer projected to make the Tournament reaches the NIT Final Four AND a team that the computer did not feel was Tournament worthy fails to win a game, 1 of the bonus points are recovered.

When scoring is updated, I will list the various computers in a "points behind" method. 

Make sense?  Good.  If not, hopefully you'll get some help with your bracket.

Predicting the Field

If you're looking for a computer that correctly identified the teams in the Tournament, you may want to follow Trevor's picks from here on out; he was the only computer to correctly identify all but 2 teams in the Tournament.  The rest of us made 3 or more "mistakes".  As a result, Trevor currently leads the challenge with the remaining rankings being a point behind.

The snub list is as follows - with the number of computers that thought that these teams should be in the Tournament noted.


SMU 6
La Tech 5
Arkansas 3
Utah 3
Fla St 2
Illinois 1
St. Johns 1
Toledo 1
Minn 1

The teams that the computers felt should not have made in the Tournament is as follows:


NC St 7
Dayton 5
Nebraska 3
Colorado 3
BYU 2
Kansas St 1
Tenn 1
Stanford 1



















How to use this:-Dayton & NC State probably should have been dropped in favor of SMU & Louisiana Tech.
-St Joe's, Nebraska, BYU & Colorado probably should have been the teams in the play-in games.
-Don't pick Dayton, NC State, St. Joes, Nebraska, BYU or Colorado to win any Tournament games.

Alpha and Omega (Play In Games and Champion)

3 teams have been identified as champions.

Arizona (Stanford, BPI, KenPom, Sagarin)
Florida (Myself, Trevor, Massey)
Louisville (Silver)

 How to use this:
 When filling out your bracket, it makes sense to have one of those teams as your champion.  Arizona & Florida are both unanimous picks to make the Final Four, so the safe money is with one of those two.  The underseeding of Louisville is a gross error by the Committee.

Albany vs. Mt. St Mary's:  It is a unanimous projection that Albany will advance.
Cal Poly vs. Texas Southern:  I am the only one to take Texas Southern.
Xavier - NC State:  It is a unanimous projection that Xavier will advance, with the exception of Massey (the one computer that thought NC State was worthy of a Tourney bid).
Tenn-Iowa:  Massey, KenPom & Silver take the Vols; the rest of us take Iowa.

How to use this:
If you're a gambling degenerate who bets on play-in games, take Albany, Cal Poly & Xavier.  Stay away from Tenn-Iowa.

 
All projections from here on forth are for first round games.  It is assumed 1-4 seeds will be projected to win by every computer.   Blog posts will be made for later round projections.

South Region

Final 4 Pick:  All take Florida
Colorado-Pitt:  All take Pitt
VCU-SF Austin:  All take VCU
Ohio St-Dayton:  All take Ohio St
NM-Stanford:  All take New Mexico

How to use this: 
Don't get cute.  Take the chalk.  If you're looking for an upset, two of the computers would take Ohio St if they were to meet Syracuse in Round 2.  7 of the 8 Computers project that UCLA would defeat VCU in round 2; so don't try and get too cute with VCU either.  Play it safe in this region; more exciting regions are coming.

East
Final 4 Pick:  Myself, ESPN BPI, Massey & KenPom take Virgina; Stanford, Sagarin & Trevor take Nova while Silver takes Sparty.
Memphis-GW:  Even split.  Massey, ESPN BPI, Trevor & myself take GW; the rest take Memphis.
Cincy-Harvard:  All take Cincy.
NC-Prov:  All but Massey take UNC.  If you like what you've seen from Massey (he did host the site I'm pulling these rankings from after all), this might be your upset special.
UCONN-St. Joes:  All take UCONN.

How to use this:  Go ahead and pencil Nova in the Elite 8.  All computers say that Villanova will make it at least that far.  If you've seen some of UNC's better games (and there are many to choose from) and they pass the eye test for you, take them over Iowa St.  It's a pretty low risk bet (but no computer will be on your side).  If picking a team you've never seen (Virginia) to make the Final 4 makes you uneasy, take Sparty.  It won't be a majority pick, but the guy who picked every state in the last Presidential election will have your back.

No computer has anyone from this region making it to the Final Game, so it's hard to hurt yourself too much in progressive brackets that skew towards weighting the championship game heavily.  That suggests that either A)  There was no clear cut "4th best" team or B)  The Committee screwed the pooch.  When we get to the next region, the answer should become clear.

Midwest

Final 4 Pick:  Louisville is the favorite, projected by myself, Massey, ESPN BPI, KenPom & Silver.  As previously noted, they are Silver's projected champion & are the #2 ranked team by Massey, KenPom & Sagarin.  Everyone else takes Wichita State.  The fact that Louisville is so highly respected by the computers but Wichita State yet receives multiple votes to carry the region indicates that Louisville should have been the 4th #1 seed; not Virginia.
Kentucky-KS State:  All take Kentucky.
St Louis-Xavier/NC State:  All take St. Louis
UMASS-Tenn/IA:  This is your upset.  5 of the 8 computers take the winner of Tenn/Iowa (doesn't matter) while myself, Trevor & Massey take the Minutemen.
Texas-AZ State:  Another potential upset.  ESPN BPI & Sagarin take the Sun Devils; the rest of us stand with Texas.

How to use this:  This is an important region that will go a long way towards determining contests throughout the country.  So here's some guide points:
1)  Decide if you like L'ville or Wichita and pencil them in for the Final Four.
2)  Don't gloss over Tenn-Iowa in the play in game.  Do your homework on these teams and decide for yourself if they are worthy of your upset special.   5 of the 8 computers have decided that at least one of those teams is a Top 25 team.
3)  If you're one of those people who treats the 8-9 game as a coin toss, do yourself a favor & pick Kentucky.
4)  It is really tempting to pick Kentucky over Wichita.  No computer would support this decision (although if you're in a pool that rewards upsets, all computers imply that Kentucky would have substantially better than a 1 in 8 shot).
5)  5 of the 8 computers would take Duke over Michigan.

West

Final 4:  All take Arizona
Gonzaga-OK State:  Massey, KenPom & Trevor take the Zags; the rest of us take the Pokes.
Oklahoma-ND State:  All take Oklahoma
Baylor-Nebraska:  All take Baylor
Oregon-BYU:  All take the Ducks

How to use this:  This is another chalk based region.  6 of the 8 computers would take the Badgers over Creighton in a potential Sweet 16 game and SD State would be a unanimous pick to beat Oklahoma in a 4-5 round 2 match-up.







Sunday, March 16, 2014

Final CBB Rankings 3-16-14


Rank Team Rating
1 Florida 5.89
2 Arizona 5.71
3 Louisville 5.59
4 Kansas 5.39
5 Wisconsin 5.28
6 Michigan 5.13
7 Virginia 4.73
8 Wichita State 4.53
9 Michigan State 4.46
10 Villanova 4.36
11 Iowa State 4.27
12 Connecticut 4.22
13 Creighton 4.13
14 Syracuse 4.11
15 Cincinnati 3.91
16 Duke 3.87
17 San Diego State 3.77
18 Massachusetts 3.53
19 New Mexico 3.44
20 UCLA 3.34
21 Virginia Commonwealth 3.33
22 Saint Louis 3.20
23 Kentucky 3.19
24 George Washington 3.15
25 Ohio State 3.11
26 North Carolina 3.05
27 Baylor 3.04
28 Oklahoma State 2.99
29 Texas 2.96
30 Oregon 2.95
31 St. Joseph's (PA) 2.93
32 Oklahoma 2.88
33 Gonzaga 2.81
34 Memphis 2.80
35 Iowa 2.73
36 Pittsburgh 2.71
37 Southern Methodist 2.36
38 Providence 2.19
39 Louisiana Tech 2.15
40 Dayton 2.06
41 Colorado 1.97
42 Nebraska 1.93
43 Tennessee 1.89
44 Harvard 1.89
45 Florida State 1.86
46 Southern Miss 1.86
47 Kansas State 1.84
48 Arizona State 1.81
49 Stephen F. Austin 1.79
50 Xavier 1.79
51 Stanford 1.67
52 Arkansas 1.60
53 Brigham Young 1.56
54 Minnesota 1.55
55 North Dakota State 1.47
56 West Virginia 1.43
57 Green Bay 1.41
58 California 1.41
59 Utah 1.38
60 Toledo 1.35
61 St. John's 1.35
62 Indiana 1.31
63 Georgetown 1.20
64 Illinois 1.18
65 NC State 1.17
66 Missouri 1.14
67 North Carolina Central 1.00
68 St. Bonaventure 0.98
69 Marquette 0.97
70 Belmont 0.92
71 Western Michigan 0.92
72 Clemson 0.92
73 LSU 0.91
74 Iona 0.84
75 Middle Tennessee State 0.75
76 Mercer 0.73
77 Saint Mary's 0.73
78 Maryland 0.73
79 Manhattan 0.69
80 Penn State 0.64
81 Ohio 0.60
82 Richmond 0.60
83 Georgia State 0.60
84 Indiana State 0.52
85 Boise State 0.50
86 New Mexico State 0.46
87 Texas Tech 0.41
88 Georgia 0.39
89 Akron 0.33
90 Buffalo 0.22
91 Delaware 0.16
92 Wake Forest 0.16
93 Eastern Michigan 0.12
94 UNLV 0.07
95 San Francisco 0.06
96 Cleveland State 0.03
97 Washington -0.04
98 Northwestern -0.05
99 Tulsa -0.06
100 Ole Miss -0.11
101 Notre Dame -0.14
102 Georgia Tech -0.15
103 Seton Hall -0.19
104 Oregon State -0.21
105 Towson -0.23
106 Eastern Kentucky -0.23
107 La Salle -0.29
108 IPFW -0.30
109 Texas-El Paso -0.34
110 Wyoming -0.35
111 Vermont -0.41
112 Houston -0.41
113 Purdue -0.50
114 Incarnate Word -0.51
115 Butler -0.57
116 Louisiana -0.61
117 Texas A&M -0.67
118 Missouri State -0.67
119 Princeton -0.76
120 Utah State -0.76
121 Santa Clara -0.76
122 UC Irvine -0.78
123 Miami (FL) -0.85
124 Duquesne -0.87
125 South Dakota State -0.87
126 South Carolina -0.89
127 Vanderbilt -0.94
128 Fresno State -0.98
129 Alabama -1.01
130 Sam Houston State -1.05
131 Colorado State -1.10
132 Murray State -1.16
133 Quinnipiac -1.20
134 Boston University -1.21
135 Northern Iowa -1.24
136 DePaul -1.27
137 Rhode Island -1.29
138 Illinois State -1.36
139 Denver -1.37
140 Arkansas State -1.39
141 Davidson -1.39
142 UC-Santa Barbara -1.41
143 USC -1.42
144 Columbia -1.44
145 Auburn -1.45
146 Canisius -1.45
147 Stony Brook -1.46
148 San Diego -1.47
149 Robert Morris -1.47
150 Wofford -1.50
151 William & Mary -1.52
152 American University -1.53
153 Nebraska-Omaha -1.56
154 Northwestern State -1.66
155 Old Dominion -1.71
156 Holy Cross -1.74
157 Portland -1.79
158 Washington State -1.88
159 Boston College -1.88
160 Drexel -1.89
161 Morehead State -1.91
162 USC Upstate -2.00
163 Hawaii -2.00
164 Wright State -2.00
165 Western Kentucky -2.02
166 Oral Roberts -2.03
167 Utah Valley University -2.06
168 UAB -2.07
169 Texas-Arlington -2.15
170 Yale -2.16
171 Kent State -2.16
172 TCU -2.17
173 Valparaiso -2.22
174 Pacific -2.27
175 Bowling Green -2.28
176 Southern University -2.29
177 George Mason -2.29
178 Loyola Marymount -2.31
179 Long Beach State -2.34
180 Oakland -2.35
181 Pepperdine -2.35
182 Weber State -2.36
183 UCF -2.39
184 Florida Gulf Coast -2.40
185 Brown -2.41
186 Northern Illinois -2.44
187 Mississippi State -2.53
188 Albany -2.56
189 Fordham -2.57
190 Youngstown State -2.60
191 Nevada -2.61
192 Evansville -2.65
193 Bryant -2.68
194 Southern Illinois -2.71
195 Coastal Carolina -2.72
196 Wagner -2.74
197 Miami (OH) -2.74
198 Virginia Military Institute -2.76
199 Milwaukee -2.78
200 Siena -2.89
201 Western Carolina -2.89
202 Drake -2.90
203 Grand Canyon -2.96
204 Charlotte -2.99
205 Rutgers -3.03
206 Arkansas-Little Rock -3.05
207 Elon -3.08
208 East Carolina -3.08
209 Detroit -3.17
210 Virginia Tech -3.18
211 Southeast Missouri State -3.25
212 Winthrop -3.32
213 East Tennessee State -3.35
214 Lipscomb -3.35
215 North Florida -3.35
216 Hartford -3.37
217 South Dakota -3.37
218 Northern Colorado -3.37
219 Chattanooga -3.40
220 Mount St. Mary's -3.43
221 St. Francis (NY) -3.48
222 St. Peter's -3.49
223 Temple -3.50
224 South Florida -3.54
225 Texas Southern -3.55
226 Florida International -3.59
227 Cal Poly -3.60
228 Radford -3.65
229 North Texas -3.66
230 Hampton -3.68
231 High Point -3.69
232 Rider -3.71
233 Alabama State -3.71
234 Gardner-Webb -3.74
235 North Carolina-Asheville -3.74
236 Morgan State -3.76
237 Tennessee Tech -3.78
238 Army -3.84
239 Nicholls State -4.04
240 North Dakota -4.04
241 Air Force -4.10
242 Marist -4.11
243 Bradley -4.14
244 Tulane -4.14
245 Montana -4.18
246 Eastern Washington -4.24
247 College of Charleston -4.33
248 Norfolk State -4.37
249 Bucknell -4.39
250 Marshall -4.40
251 James Madison -4.45
252 South Alabama -4.52
253 Northeastern -4.53
254 Dartmouth -4.53
255 Western Illinois -4.54
256 Lehigh -4.55
257 Ball State -4.58
258 Central Michigan -4.66
259 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi -4.77
260 New Orleans -4.83
261 Colgate -4.84
262 Alabama A&M -4.85
263 Savannah State -4.87
264 McNeese State -4.88
265 Georgia Southern -4.89
266 Louisiana-Monroe -4.98
267 Cal State Northridge -5.00
268 Charleston Southern -5.14
269 Sacramento State -5.31
270 Idaho -5.37
271 Chicago State -5.41
272 Arkansas-Pine Bluff -5.47
273 Portland State -5.47
274 San Jose State -5.55
275 Northern Arizona -5.55
276 Lafayette -5.60
277 Jacksonville -5.64
278 Samford -5.68
279 Hofstra -5.68
280 Florida Atlantic -5.73
281 Eastern Illinois -5.75
282 Troy -5.75
283 Monmouth -5.88
284 Florida A&M -5.94
285 Loyola (MD) -6.02
286 North Carolina-Wilmington -6.02
287 Texas State -6.04
288 Cal State Bakersfield -6.05
289 Cal State Fullerton -6.05
290 Pennsylvania -6.08
291 Southeastern Louisiana -6.16
292 Seattle -6.25
293 Alcorn State -6.29
294 UMass-Lowell -6.34
295 Loyola (Chicago) -6.37
296 North Carolina-Greensboro -6.40
297 Abilene Christian -6.50
298 Idaho State -6.54
299 Coppin State -6.55
300 New Jersey Tech -6.60
301 Jacksonville State -6.73
302 Fairfield -6.78
303 UC Riverside -6.79
304 Austin Peay -6.82
305 Montana State -6.90
306 Jackson State -6.97
307 Niagara -6.97
308 Prairie View A&M -7.19
309 St. Francis (PA) -7.20
310 Navy -7.24
311 Northern Kentucky -7.29
312 SIU Edwardsville -7.31
313 Rice -7.40
314 Appalachian State -7.43
315 Fairleigh Dickinson -7.46
316 Texas-San Antonio -7.50
317 Maryland-Baltimore County -7.57
318 Liberty -7.59
319 Delaware State -7.61
320 Missouri-Kansas City -7.62
321 Tennessee State -7.64
322 Long Island -7.71
323 North Carolina A&T -7.92
324 UIC -7.92
325 Mississippi Valley State -8.03
326 UC Davis -8.06
327 Campbell -8.18
328 Central Arkansas -8.25
329 Tennessee-Martin -8.60
330 Howard -8.78
331 Texas-Pan American -8.79
332 South Carolina State -8.81
333 IUPUI -8.86
334 Stetson -8.97
335 Central Connecticut State -9.14
336 Houston Baptist -9.38
337 Furman -9.41
338 Bethune-Cookman -9.72
339 Kennesaw State -9.83
340 Citadel -9.89
341 Cornell -10.23
342 Maine -10.27
343 Maryland-Eastern Shore -10.42
344 Longwood -10.50
345 New Hampshire -10.60
346 Lamar -10.81
347 Binghamton -11.00
348 Grambling State -11.32
349 Sacred Heart -11.33
350 Presbyterian -11.54
351 Southern Utah -13.16