Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bracketosophy

Darts in a dartboardIn this week's College Basketball Team Rankings, I provided a bracket based on my betting market power rankings.  It turned out to be a pretty boring bracket (spoiler alert: Kentucky wins it all).  So I've come up with some alternatives, with an eye towards picking optimal upsets.  If you're in an office pool, you're going to have to pick some upsets in order to separate yourself from the pack.  But not all upsets are created equal, so this post is intended to help you "pick your spots", so to speak.



I've created three new brackets that you're free to use.  Which bracket you choose depends on how "risky" you want to get in your picks.  "Slow and steady" does not win the race when it comes to most office pools.  You're going to have to take some chances.  Getting risky will give you a small probability of winning the pool, and a large probability of failing spectacularly.  But that should be preferable to ending up with a "respectable" bracket that has virtually no chance of winning a pool (shades of the high variance strategy underdogs should employ).  And if you're in an office pool with 20 other people, everybody is pretty much an underdog to win.


Methodology


To come up with a bracket that picks optimal upsets, I came up with a rule that applied a cutoff to when I would pick a lower seed, even if my rankings indicate I should pick the higher seeded team (higher seeded in this context means the better team according to seed - 1 is a higher seed than 4).  So, if my cutoff was 3 points, then I would pick the lower seeded team as long as they weren't expected to be any worse than a 3 point underdog.


The Brackets


Here is a link to the bracket based on solely picking the better team according to my betting market rankings:link

And here are the new brackets:

The "Weekend in Vegas" bracket - This is the least risky of the three brackets.  The cutoff is 2 points.  So, I only pick the lower seeded team if they are expected to be no worse than a 2 point underdog.  The bracket: link.


The "Bet the Farm" bracket - This is the next risky of the three.  The cutoff is 5 points, meaning I pick the lower seed as long they aren't expected to be worse than a 5 point underdog.  The bracket: link.


The "Jérôme Kerviel" bracket - This is named in honor of French "rogue" trader Jérôme Kerviel, who gambled with his employer's money, ultimately leading to losses valued at 4.9 billion (at least according to his employer, Société Générale; Jerome's sentence is currently suspended pending his appeal).  I used a cutoff of 8 points for this bracket, meaning that it picks the lower seed as long as they are expected to be no worse than an 8 point underdog.  The bracket: link.


As a rule of thumb, the more people you have in your office pool, the riskier you're going to have to get.  In addition, if your pool gives bonus points for picking upsets, it may make more sense to use the "Bet the Farm" or "Jerome Kerviel" bracket.


Good luck!


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