Category: NCAA Basketball

Site Design Update & New Premium Packages Are Live

This morning we released a major update to the site, probably our biggest single release ever in terms of the amount of code that was changed and added. We’ve been working on it since April.

As a result, two significant changes went into effect. Here’s a quick summary.

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New Mobile-Friendly Site Launches Tomorrow (Tue 9/1)

Update Tuesday 9/1 10:42 am ET: Our mobile-friendly site is now live! Enjoy. It’s sure to have at least a few issues we’ll need to fix, so if you see anything that looks off, please email us at


Before football season starts each year, we typically recap what we did over the summer, kind of like what you used to do for your fourth grade teacher on the first day of school.

Here’s our later-than-usual 2015 version, with some very important news for all of our users.

Sadly, we didn’t spend our entire summer eating hot dogs and riding the Turkish Twist at Canobie Lake Park. Instead, we’ve been working on a big project we’re finally ready to launch.

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TeamRankings Renews Partnership With FanDuel

I’m happy to announce that TeamRankings has renewed its partnership with FanDuel, the industry leader in daily and weekly fantasy sports contests for real money prizes.

As we head into the 2015 NFL season, we’re excited to continue to participate in the rapid growth of the daily fantasy sports market. After working with FanDuel for a year so far, we can say that they are a partner whose integrity, transparency and strategy we respect.

Here’s a recap of what we’ve done so far with FanDuel, and a quick overview of where things are heading in the upcoming weeks and months.

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The Results Are In: How Our 2015 Bracket Picks Did

This post contains a detailed review of how our bracket picks performed in 2015. In case you’re not familiar with it, we sell a premium product for NCAA bracket pool picks.

Our goal here is to quantify how effective our NCAA Bracket Picks product was in delivering value to its customers. This is actually a somewhat complex process, for a number of reasons, but we do our best given the constraints.

(If you want to learn more about the details, you can read the appendix at the end of this post entitled “How We Measure Bracket Pick Performance.”)

The Bottom Line

  • 31% of our customers won a prize in at least one bracket pool this year, compared to an expectation of 19%
  • So compared to expectations, our customers were about 60% more likely to win at least one bracket pool prize this year
  • Our customers finished “in the money” in 14% of pools they entered, compared to an expectation of 10%
  • So compared to expectations, our customers were about 40% more likely to win a prize in any bracket pool they entered

Note: These numbers assume that all competitors in our customers’ bracket pools were equally skilled. In addition, we have adjusted prize winning expectations to account for any cases where customers played multiple brackets in the same pool, and where customers played in multiple pools. If the baseline expectations for winning a prize seem high, that’s why.

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How Accurate Were Our 2015 NCAA Tournament Projections?

Last week, FiveThirtyEight published a post reviewing the accuracy of their 2015 NCAA tournament projections.

In that post, they compared their round-by-round survival odds against those from other analytically-oriented sites using a technique called Brier scores.

Since FiveThirtyEight didn’t include TeamRankings in the comparison (no hard feelings, as our advancement odds weren’t publicly available prior to the First Four play-in round, since they are part of our premium NCAA Bracket Picks package), we went ahead and added our 2015 results to the mix.

What We’re Measuring: Projections, Not Bracket Picks

What is being measured here is not the actual bracket picks we advised our customers to make; coming up with optimal picks for a bracket pool requires the analysis of several other types of data, such as pool size and public picking trends, in addition to team survival projections. (We’re going to publish another post soon on how our recommended brackets did this year.)

The table below simply compares how accurate various sites were at predicting how far teams were likely to make it in the 2015 tournament.

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Wichita State vs. Notre Dame Matchup Preview: Key Numbers

The first game on tonight’s docket is projected to be the closest: 3 seed Notre Dame vs 7 seed Wichita State. The teams tip off at 7:15PM Eastern in Cleveland, expecting that victory will bring a game against overwhelming favorite Kentucky in the Midwest Regional Final on Saturday.

Though some might see that as a dubious reward since either Notre Dame or Wichita State would only have a 15% chance to win against Kentucky, both teams also would relish the opportunity to hand Kentucky its first loss, particularly Wichita State given their battle last year against the Wildcats.

Despite the seeding, Wichita State is the slight favorite tonight. The offshore betting markets currently favor Wichita State by two points, and our models give them a 51% chance to emerge victorious.

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Wisconsin vs. North Carolina Matchup Preview: Key Numbers

Perhaps the juiciest matchup Thursday night pits Wisconsin against North Carolina in the early game (7:47 PM Eastern tip) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game features the 1 seeded (and 4th in our Predictive Rankings) Badgers against the marquee program of the 4 seeded (8th in Predictive Ranking) Tar Heels and will showcase multiple future pros on the floor.

At the moment, our models currently give Wisconsin a 69% chance to win the game, while the betting markets see them as 6 point favorites.

Wisconsin on Offense

As you’d expect from one of the top teams in the nation, Wisconsin has a a number of strengths. Most notably, they have the #1 offense in the nation on a per possession basis scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions.  This fact is often overlooked by the general public since the team is only 46th in points per game as a result of playing at one of the slowest paces in the nation.  UNC’s defense ranks 82nd in the country allowing 95.4 points per 100 posessions.  What makes the Badgers offense so effective and does UNC have a chance to stop them?

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Rising Arizona: How Tournament Survival Odds Have Changed

Here at TeamRankings, we like to say that every tournament is unique — kind of like a snowflake, many of which happened to be falling on my New Jersey office during last Friday’s games. (If you live in the area, hopefully you avoided a rough commute and took the day off to watch the games.)

Similarly, the path of teams through the NCAA tournament can get rougher, or easier, based on events outside of their control. Here’s a look at how various teams’ chances have evolved over the course of the tournament so far.

2015 NCAA Champion Odds

The chart below charts the odds of each Sweet 16 team to win the 2015 NCAA championship, and how those odds have changed from round to round:

Championship Odds Over Time

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Wisconsin’s Road to the Final Four & Championship

Previously, we have looked at Kentucky, Villanova, and Duke’s path to the National Championship. Today, let’s look at the 1 seed in the West: the Wisconsin Badgers.

Wisconsin’s Odds by Round

We’ve released our round by round survival odds for each team that made the tournament. From those numbers, we can determine the chances Wisconsin wins in each round, if they make it there:

Wisconsin's Odds to Win By Round

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Duke’s Road to the Final Four & Championship

Previously, we looked at Kentucky and Villanova’s path to the National Championship. Today, let’s look at a team not nicknamed the Wildcats: the South 1 seed Duke Blue Devils.

We can drill into the data we have used while generating optimized bracket picks for you. Duke’s progression of game win odds, as it turns out, is quite comparable to Villanova’s.

Duke’s Odds by Round

We’ve released our round by round survival odds for each team that made the tournament. From those numbers, we can determine the chances Duke wins in each round, if they make it there:

Duke's Odds to Win By Round

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