Here at TeamRankings, we’ve developed a sophisticated strategy for winning NCAA bracket pools that relies on several different sources of input data to predict every team’s chances. The end result is our official 2015 NCAA bracket picks.
Since we spend a bunch of time on Selection Sunday gathering and reviewing team ratings and projections from different sources, we figured we’d publish some of the comparative highlights.
What Do Various Predictive Systems Think Of This Year’s Tournament Teams?
We’ve plotted each site’s ranking (not rating) of each of the teams below as a gray dot. If multiple sites have a team at the same rank, the dot is darker. (That’s why Kentucky has just one really dark dot; the Wildcats are unsurprisingly ranked #1 by all five systems.)
It’s 2015 NCAA tournament time, so two things are pretty much certain:
- You are going to get bombarded with bracket picking advice. By the media, friends, family, and that random sketchy looking dude at the bar.
- All that advice will suck. In fact, if you listen to these misguided souls, your odds to win your NCAA bracket pool will probably get worse.
We’ve spent over a decade doing objective, data-driven research into bracket pool strategy. So we can distinguish fact from opinion when it comes to bracket picking tips.
Here are the top five things you need to watch out for. (Or if you’d rather just put the best bracket advice to work for you, check out our 2015 bracket picks.)
Forget Any Bracket Picking Advice That:
1. Ignores your scoring system
Bracket pools come in an astounding array of flavors in terms of scoring systems. Some award a fixed number of points per round for each correct pick; some offer a huge reward for picking the NCAA champion correctly; some give big bonuses for picking seed-based upsets.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year: March Madness, when all of America obsesses over the NCAA Tournament.
By now, the media, coworkers, family, friends and frenemies alike have inundated you with all things March Madness. Articles, tweets, and raging diatribes on the NCAA bracket hit you from all angles — and everyone wants you to enter their bracket pool.
To commemorate the madness this year, we’re doing something new. Using unique data we’ve collected about our customers’ bracket contests, we’re going to share and celebrate all of the amazing varieties of NCAA bracket pools that are out there.
Hopefully, you’ll get some fun new ideas for how to set up your own bracket pool in 2015.
Because when it comes to dreaming up ways to reallocate wealth during March Madness, you all are some seriously creative people. Or just plain insane.
Note: This research was originally conducted in 2014 by Jordan Sperber, and the post was updated for 2015 by TeamRankings.
Selection Sunday always sparks a raging debate among college basketball fans about which four teams deserve a 1 seed from the NCAA Selection Committee.
When it comes to filling out your NCAA bracket, though, the more important question is this:
How much does getting a 1 seed — and seeding in general — actually matter when it comes to NCAA tournament performance?
It’s something our algorithmic models will consider closely as they identify the best bracket pool picks for 2015, and it warrants an objective study.
(Here’s how we build smarter brackets, by the way.)
The No. 1 seed landscape in 2015
As the major conference tournaments get into swing, six teams are battling it out to land a top seed in the 2015 NCAA tournament, according to our 2015 bracketology projections: Kentucky, Villanova, Arizona, Wisconsin, Duke, and Virginia. A couple other teams, Gonzaga and Kansas, are extreme long shots.
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. So is all this obsession over landing a 1 seed justifiable based on past tournament history? And more generally, just how important is seeding overall?
No automatic bids are up for grabs tonight or Friday, but the last five conference tournaments begin today. Below you will find our 2015 conference tournament projections for the American, WAC, Big Sky, Big West, and Sun Belt tournaments.
All projections were generated before the first games tipped.
American Athletic Conference Tournament Predictions 2015
Our 2015 AAC conference tournament bracket prediction gives #1 seed SMU a strong chance to win. After SMU’s 34% odds, we have #6 seed UConn as their biggest threat with a 24% chance to win. UConn could benefit a bit from playing in Hartford, though, and not being on SMU’s side of the bracket.
Our SMU bracketology projection indicates that they are likely to be either a #5 or #6 seed in the 2015 NCAA tourney.
It’s a busy day today with 33 NCAA Basketball games on the slate. Florida State vs Clemson tips at Noon Eastern, and the last game of the night is Washington vs Stanford at 11:30PM Eastern.
No less than nine conference tournaments start today. Since we already posted our 2015 conference tournament projections for the power conferences, we’ve rounded up the other conference tournaments that start today: Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Conference USA (CUSA), and Southland. All projections were made before the games tipped.
Before we dive in, though, let’s talk about the one conference handing out an automatic bid tonight: the Patriot League.
March 11th Conference Championship Final
Patriot League Conference Tournament Final
At the start of their tournament back on March 3rd, we saw the top two seeds Bucknell and Colgate as evenly matched and a cut above the rest of the conference.
Well, a conference tournament like this is why we call it March Madness. Tonight at 7:30PM Eastern, #4 seed Lafayette hosts #6 seed American in the final.
March Madness really gets rolling today with the first tournament games from a Power Conference: the ACC opening round.
While not exactly marquee matchups (#12 seed Boston College faces #13 Georgia Tech at 1 PM Eastern, followed #11 Wake Forest against #14 Virginia Tech), any time we have major college basketball during the day it’s a good thing. Tomorrow, the Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC, and Big East tournaments will also join the fun.
Below you will find our 2015 conference tournament predictions for all of these tournaments. All projections were generated before the first games tipped.
ACC Conference Tournament Predictions 2015
Our 2015 ACC conference tournament bracket prediction favors 2 seed Duke. They are projected to win the tournament 40% of the time, while Virginia has 28% odds to win the ACC regular season and conference tournament for the second season in a row.
#5 North Carolina actually has the third best chance to win at 12%, followed by #4 Louisville and #3 Notre Dame at 9% and 8% respectively.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) kicks off it’s conference tournament today along with the ACC.
Since we included our ACC conference tournament predictions in another post on conference tournament projections for the power conferences, only the forecast for the SWAC tournament appears below.
Before we take a whack at the SWAC, though, let’s talk about the four conferences handing out their automatic bids tonight: the West Coast Conference (WCC), Horizon League, Summit League, and Northeast Conference (NEC). There’s no Cinderella drama playing out in these four championship games, as the 1 seed is playing the 2 seed in every single one.
March 10th Conference Championship Finals
West Coast Conference Tournament
The game of the night tonight should be BYU vs Gonzaga at 9PM Eastern on ESPN. Gonzaga is currently projected for a 2 seed in the Big Dance while BYU looks to be on track for a 9 seed, according to our bracketology models. We give Gonzaga a 76% chance to win, and avenge their only conference loss a week and a half ago.
Two conferences kick off their tournaments today: the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) and MAC (Mid-American Conference).
Before we dive into the results of predicting those tournaments, though, let’s talk about the three conferences handing out their automatic bids tonight.
March 9th Conference Championship Finals
One of the games of the year was Sunday afternoon in the CAA semifinal. William & Mary beat Hofstra (our slight favorite for the Colonial at the start of the tournament) 92-91 in double overtime behind 37 points from Marcus Thornton (no not that Marcus Thornton) and 33 from Omar Prewitt.
At the time of this writing we give William & Mary a 62% chance to earn their first trip in history to the Big Dance. You can watch at 7PM Eastern on NBCSN.
Kentucky’s attempt to be the first undefeated national champion since the 1975-76 Indiana team has been closely watched since the start of the 2015 NCAA Basketball season.
Many sites, including ours, have estimated the odds that they would be able to pull off the accomplishment throughout the season.
Entering Saturday’s game hosting Florida, we currently give them a 23% chance to run the table and win all their regular season and postseason games.
How do we arrive at that estimate? In addition to making predictions for individual games such as Florida at Kentucky to close out Kentucky’s regular season, we also forecast conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament.
As a result, we have calculated Kentucky’s survival odds in the SEC Tournament as well as odds of advancement for each team in the NCAA tournament.