Wednesday afternoon we published our initial 2014-2015 college basketball preseason ratings, which means we now have full preseason projections for all teams, including:
- College Basketball Projected Conference Standings. Projected conference records and full regular season records, plus win odds for both the conference regular season title and the postseason tournament.
- Bracketology Projections. Odds to make the NCAA tournament, plus projected seeding, and lots more details. (One of our faves is the Bracketology By Conference page.)
- NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions. Round by round advancement odds, including probability of a team making the Sweet 16, making the Final Four, or winning the championship
This is all data-driven, and automated, so it will update every day throughout the season.
Below you’ll find our full conference standings projections, along with projected regular season records, and each team’s odds of winning their conference regular season and conference tournament.
In the wee hours Wednesday morning, we finished crunching the numbers, and loaded our official preseason team ratings for the 2014-2015 college basketball season into our database. These are the ratings that drive our preseason projections, and serve as the Bayesian priors for our predictive ratings as the season progresses.
(Translation: our preseason ratings still impact our team ratings even months into the season, because that has shown to be more predictive than not.)
Below you’ll find a preseason top 25 comparison between TeamRankings, Ken Pomeroy, the AP poll, and more. We’ve also posted the full rankings and ratings for all 351 Division I teams.
As long time TR users know, our “New Ratings” have been around a for a while, and aren’t exactly “new” at this point. In fact, they were announced three years ago today.
To celebrate their birthday, and because we’re now confident that they’re ready for prime time, we’re making a few changes.
1. We’re removing “(Beta)” from the end of their name.
It’s like moving from a learner’s permit to real driver’s license.
2. We’re now using them on team and matchup pages.
Our new default power rating for team pages and matchup pages is the Predictive Rating from our New Ratings suite, so you’ll now see “Predictive Rank” where you used to see our old “Overall Rank”.
Unlike our previous Overall rankings, the new Predictive Rating is designed to be the best predictor of future games, so it relies heavily on margin of victory, and virtually ignores a team’s win-loss record.
A lot of people will read our bracket picking guide and say, “Whatever. Winning a bracket pool just comes down to luck anyway. Last year Sally in accounting won the March Madness office pool picking by team colors, and my great grandmother knows more about college basketball than her. Research like this doesn’t mean squat in the end, it’s all a crapshoot anyway.”
We would never argue that winning a bracket pool in any given year doesn’t require luck. It’s ridiculous to imagine anyone, even with the best bracket research at their disposal, being 25 or 50 times better at making picks than all the other people in their pool — in other words, good enough to expect to win a smaller sized pool each and every year.
As a result, paying some money to enter a bracket pool will always be a very risky use of your money. On the grand scale of risk, let’s consider two extremes of what you could do with $25 this month:
Step 5: Think About Hedging Your Bets
With most standard scoring systems, the following two areas of the bracket can play a big role in determining who wins the office pool:
- The games in the final few rounds (all the time)
- The middle seeded early round games (sometimes)
Early round games involving mid-seeded teams (say, 5-seeds through 12-seeds) can be important because there are many of those games, and on account of the voodoo inherent in the NCAA tournament selection process, higher performing teams often hide behind worse seed numbers. So these games often present opportunities to gain a little bit of ground, primarily if you find some good Sweet 16 value picks among this group.
The flip side, though, is that early round victories usually count for very little in most scoring systems. In fact, Round of 64 winners are only worth one measly point in most bracket pools. So there is a limit to the impact great picking can have in early round games. Even if you have the luck of your life and correctly pick six or seven first round upsets, the points you earn will be less than getting one more Final Four pick right.
Step 3: Get Smart About Defining And Picking Upsets
Conventional wisdom regarding upset picking strategy is all over the map. “Always pick a 12 seed over a 5 seed,” right? Not so fast. It’s true that since 1985, an unexpectedly high percentage of 12 seeds have won a Round of 64 game. But that doesn’t mean you should blindly follow the historical trend.
Here’s a quick probability study. Let’s assume that in fact, out of every four games between 5 and 12 seeds, one 12 seed will win. Based on that assumption, if you blindly pick one 12 seed to beat a 5 this year, what is the expected outcome?
- There’s a 25% chance that you choose the right 12 seed to win, and you get all four of the 5 vs. 12 seed games right. As a result, You would earn 4 points in most scoring systems.
- There’s a 75% chance you pick the wrong 12 seed, meaning you only get two of the four 5 vs. 12 games right. As a result, you would earn 2 points in most scoring systems.
You would therefore expect to score 2.5 points on average by following this strategy of randomly guessing one 12 seed to beat a 5 seed.
Step 1: Know Your Enemy
Odds are that you know most, or at least some, of the people in your bracket pool. You know where they live. You know where they hang out. You probably have a sense of which of them are avid followers of college hoops.
These are your enemies.
As with any tactical operation, you’re only as good as your intel. So you need to gather it. Buy your office pool opponents a beer and ask them what teams they like, which they think are the can’t-miss picks. Find out who they think the sleepers are, and especially, what teams they think will go deep in the tourney.
Here at TeamRankings, we’ve been doing NCAA bracket analysis and prediction since 2000. We’re a team of engineers and data scientists who built the most sophisticated NCAA bracket analysis product on the market.
But most importantly, we love basketball and we love to win things. That’s why we love NCAA bracket pools, and why we’ve dedicated over a decade to figuring out how to profit from them.
Because you’re only competing against other people (and not, say, betting games at a Vegas sports book that makes a hefty commission off your action and often stacks the odds in its favor), bracket pools can offer great ROI opportunities. We absolutely consider bracket pools an investment, because we are confident we will come out on top in the long term.
Almost every single March, you can find a college basketball TV analyst talking about the parity in the sport for that given year. Last year was a particularly telling example. Nearly every expert was taking Louisville, but the field was still supposedly “wide open.”
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these same analysts are still harping on parity again this season. Instead, the surprise is that they are actually right. Parity rules the 2014 NCAA bracket.
Selection Sunday sparks a raging debate among college basketball fans: Which four teams deserve a 1 seed from the NCAA tournament selection committee?
This question, however, begs another one: How much does getting a 1-seed actually matter?
Two weeks ago, we took at the eight team race for a 1-seed this year. 1-seeds historically perform very well in the NCAA tournament, so there is understandably a lot of media and fan focus on — or rather, obsession with — that seed line. After all, 1-seeds are (in theory) the four best teams in the country and have (in theory) the four easiest roads to the Final Four.
Still, NCAA tournament 2-seeds share a fairly similar story. Is all this obsession over 1-seeds justifiable based on past tournament history? And more generally, just how important is seeding overall?