Thursday, March 17, 2016

The odds for a perfect bracket this year are 1 in 12 billion

As I did last year, I have used my betting market rankings to calculate an "optimal" NCAA tournament bracket. My ranking system attempts to harness the combined wisdom of the betting market, as revealed by the Vegas point spreads and totals. The rankings can also be used to calculate the odds that this so-called optimal bracket picks every game correctly. Last year, the odds were 6 billion to 1.

This year, the odds are slightly less favorable, at 12 billion to 1, but that is still better than the pre-2015 average of 50 billion to 1. Here is how those odds break down by region and the final four:
  • Midwest: 163 to 1
  • West: 297 to 1
  • East: 191 to 1
  • South: 227 to 1
  • Final Four: 5 to 1
I have created two versions of a populated bracket using my rankings:
  • inpredictable optimal - This bracket picks the best team in each matchup, according to my rankings. It's fairly chalk-y, though it does pick a couple 11 seeds, Gonzaga and Wichita State, to make it further than their seed would suggest. Kansas is the predicted champion.
  • inpredictable upsets - This bracket picks more upsets, but in a strategic way. The lower seed is picked as long as they are expected to be no worse than a two point underdog in the matchup. Michigan State is the predicted champion. 
I have also used my ranking system to enter Kaggle's March Machine Learning Mania contest. Go team boooeee!

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