March Madness Drove Me Mad This Year on March 19th, I wrote about some ways which I processed some NCAA Men’s Basketball data to make predictions for the crazy March Madness tournament, bragging about how well I had done with my analysis most years, beating former President Obama’s Barackets almost all the time, and all. Well, it seems I had really jinxed myself because this year’s March Madness results were so unpredictable that just picking by tournament seedings exactly as they were landed you in the top ten percentile! In other years, you’d be about middle of the pack. That’s because the upsets this year were so generally unpredictable that those looking to find upsets often got stung by getting many wrong, but then also stung by getting many expected winners wrong! Double-whammy, if you will!

My picks and brackets were outlined and linked in that post about my strategy this year, so you can click through on them if you like. They were so dismal I’m not going to even write about them! And despite not filling out a bracket like former President Obama’s Barackets for easy and quick comparison, I’m just going to concede the pPOTUS beat me this year. That’d be only the second time for him since he filled out a Baracket that I was aware of in the first year of his first term as President, I believe.

Of course, not going through my brackets one by one doesn’t mean I didn’t learn lessons for next year. They were just general lessons rather than ones specific to any given bracket. So there are my notes for lessons next year:

  • Big 10 team rankings is mostly hype! The Big 10 have had lots of great regular and conference championship teams over the past two decades. However, it’s been like 20 years since the Michigan Spartans won it all that they’ve had a national title contender, and continually underperform in the big dance! No matter what their strength of schedule and conference toughness rankings, put a downgrade factor to the metrics for Big 10 teams, especially the top ones! Huge mistake and downfall this year.
  • No matter how convincing a team looks on paper for stats and modeling, do not pick just one for all my brackets! I know better than that and am not sure why I did it this year for my ESPN brackets, picking the Fighting Illini to win it all in all my brackets. Must have been rust from the year off last year when the tournament was not hosted due to COVID lockdown. Takes me out of the fun if that team loses, like Illinois did very early in the tournament this year.
  • Do not change my mind on algorithm picks from what I read about analysts say about big teams. These people overhype them, and also overrate player impacts that undercuts them excessively should those players be injured or partially so. I picked a few big teams to go out earlier than they did because of injuries to star players that were going to leave them vulnerable to just somewhat good teams, not necessarily really good or great teams in the tournament. Save those hype influenced picks for the upset brackets with some fun unpredictability, and make sure there is more unpredictability at the end, not just early and middle rounds.
  • Saragin’s ranking systems are still best, year over year.

Otherwise, stick to the algorithms and methods that have proven to work so well for me in previous years. Karma should only bring me back next year! 😉



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