The Match-up Bracket predicted six of eight games Saturday, including Wisconsin’s upset of top-seed Villanova, to move into first of the sample brackets and in the 100th percentile of the 19 million ESPN brackets.
The East bracket preview explained Wisconsin was projected to win the first two games because “Villanova [is] only 81st best at protecting the ball, which would give Wisconsin (41st at steals) a much better shot at upset than Virginia Tech (347th of 351).”
The game was in fact decided on a steal with five seconds to go, when Josh Hart went to his left hand on a drive to the basket, but Vitto Brown left his man in the left corner to collapse and yank the ball out of Hart’s hands to preserve a 64-62 lead. Villanova protected the ball most of the game until then, but Brown walked to the other end of the court to hit a free throw and provide the final 65-62 margin.
As reported Saturday, the Match-up Bracket started the day tied with the Value Add Injury Bracket with 28 of 32 first round picks and both were in the 97th percentile. However, the Value Add Injury bracket missed the Wisconsin upset to win 5 of 8 Saturday and drop to the 97th percentile, while the Match-up Bracket’s 6 of 8 for the day and 34 of 40 correct lines for the tournament pushed the bracket to 77,000th of 19 million with 400 of a possible 480 points as calculated by ESPN.
Both brackets (see all pre-tournament brackets here) pick one big upset Sunday—Cincinnati over UCLA—and both pick Gonzaga to win the tournament. However, both brackets will lose points in the upper part of the East bracket since the Value Add “Healthy” bracket picked Villanova to win two more games and the Match-up Bracket picked Virginia to win two more games.
While the Sporting News gave some credibility to Wisconsin being labelled as the greatest 8-seed ever, and thus a threat to Villanova, none of the other systems picked them to actually pull off the upset other than the “Match-up Bracket.”
The third best system to date is “Venues,” adjusting picks in close games in the favor of teams who the committee puts close to home for the “neutral site” games. That system is now in the 91st percentile with 27 first round picks and 5 correct picks Saturday. All three systems have been more accurate than going by Vegas odds.