Photo by Peter Berko on Unsplash

March Sadness

Here’s a post-mortem on my bracket this year. I improved from having ~40% correctness in years past to about ~70% this time by following some guiding principles I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Pick the 1st seed in Round 1 — they’ve never lost to a 16th
  2. Bet against One & Done’s — flashy NBA bound freshmen are trying to stay healthy and inexperience shows in the tournament
  3. Experience wins tournaments — most players are around for 1-2 years, pick the team with strong veterans
  4. Player turnover is high, coaches stick around and need to win — pick the team with experienced (successful) coaches who make smart adjustments
  5. Pick the team with more assists — assists aren’t flukes, they indicate team chemistry
  6. Pick the team with fewer turnovers — turnovers aren’t flukes either, they indicate poor team chemistry
  7. Pick the team with more rebounds — rebounds aren’t flukes either, they indicate size and secured possessions
  8. Pick the team with a higher FT% — opponent defense cannot affect this stat unlike FG%, and most games are decided by a few points that could come from free throws
  9. Pick the team with a better 3PT % — teams tend to live and die by the three, so select one that can shoot it well, especially in the crunch
  10. Pick the team with fewer points allowed — defense can’t be faked, but offence can be streaky
  11. Flip a coin

Millions of people around the world fill out March Madness brackets to predict outcomes for the college basketball tournament. 64 team enter the fray, ranked 1 through 16 for 4 separate geographic regions and, if you flip a coin for each match-up, there’s 1 in 9.2 quintillion chances of getting the bracket perfect. Some years, Warren Buffet even puts up a reward to tease the average basketball fan. Next steps: prioritize factors, fine tune for intangibles, win Warren’s cash.

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