Original Post Date: Monday, March 28, 2011

 So how did your basketball picks go this season?  My bracket is officially closed since absolutely no one picked any of the final four teams!   I am happy to report that I came in second with a whopping 36 correct picks - picks that most would judge to be pretty bad.  So where did we go wrong?

Since I don’t really follow college basketball closely during the year I make my picks somewhat randomly – loosely based on the teams' standing but occasionally predicting an upset.  Naturally, the upsets I predicted were not based on knowledge of who is injured or how well a given team plays in certain situation.  I really do it for fun and to be social – not really expecting to win.

I’m guessing most people have a more sophisticated method of making their picks – an analysis of the performance of the teams throughout the season, or maybe the last several seasons, the records of the coaches and information about current circumstances that may impact a particular team's ability to perform at their peak.  In other words, most people attempt to perform some sort of data driven predictions.  Based on their analysis of the data they develop a model to predict the future.  I’m guessing that in most cases there is also a non-analytical aspect to picks – focusing on a favorite athlete, favorite school or long held rivalry.  Some picks are based on the future; the way you want it to occur may not be what is most likely.  Maybe it just happens that this year the real dreamers get to win (as well as those who pick unconsciously).

Here’s another question – what if our picks were made through an entirely analytical process – would we have been better off this year or not?  Check this out – The Official 2011 March Madness Predictive Analytics Challenge – a contest where the bracket is composed entirely of picks generated by computer algorithms.  It will be interesting to see how this data driven approach with all favoritism and gut instincts removed will fare – I’ll be watching.

So how do you make your picks and how’d that work for you this year??