Gonzaga and UNC won Final Four games Saturday to set up the championship game predicted by Breitbart Sports on March 14, meaning if you simply filled out all 62 lines as instructed in that post you find yourself in the 99th percentile of the 18 million brackets submitted to ESPN and very likely in first place in your office pool.
The only variation of the overall bracket that ended up better involved the one based purely on the rankings at Value Add Basketball, which also pegged South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell as the top player in the country, even though not one of the 65 reporters voting for AP Player of the Year chose him. Thornwell backed the ranking by scoring over 100 points in four games to lead 7-seed South Carolina to its first Final Four before the flu wiped him out this week and Gonzaga handed the Gamecocks a narrow loss on Saturday.
If Gonzaga beats UNC, as predicted in that first post, then the suggested bracket will pass more than half of the current top 100 ballots submitted among the 18 million submitted to ESPN.
While the prediction may not be as important as the September 9 mass email I sent out predicting Trump would lose the popular vote by three percent but get more than 290 electoral votes to become president, it is good to see that a good balance of analytics and common sense understanding can be the best predictor in sports as well as politics.
Here are the Breitbart brackets:
- Value Add Healthy 99th Percentile with Gonzaga beating UNC 68-66. This adjusts the KenPom rating for any players now injured or has actually made the team better by returning during the season. That value is determined by the players ranking at www.valueaddbasketball.com.
- Breitbart Overall 99th, fraction behind Value Add Healthy, with Gonzaga winning. This created the bracket images listed in the original pieces as combination of the other 9 bracket proposals listed.
- Venue 99th, tied with Breitbart Overall, with Gonzaga winning. This system adjusts the KenPom rating based on if a particular team was given a tournament site close to home where they will have an advantage.
- Vegas 92nd, picked UNC to win it all. Even going straight with Vegas odds proved not nearly as effective as the Breitbart Value Add systems above. Vegas does have UNC in the title game. It is based on the team given the best percentage chance of winning the title in Vegas beating each new opponent – in this case click on Villanova five times to have them lose to UNC in the title game.
- NBA 91st, but picked Kentucky so will fall back. This indicates the team with the most NBA talent – based on how many players they have and how high they are likely to go in the next two drafts – and once again that would make Kentucky the champion.
- Experience 86th, but will drop after picking Villanova. This adjusts the KenPom rating by how experienced the team is – also determined by KenPom.com.
- Coach 84th and picked Gonzaga. This adjusts the KenPom rating for coaches with history of success in the tournament.
- Match-ups 83rd, but could move up as it picked Gonzaga. Adjusts for particular matchups of strengths that can exploit weaknesses, including a team that gets lots of steals exploiting a team that gives up steals, and bad 3-point defense being vulnerable to a strong 3-point shooting team.
- Hot 76th and picked Villanova. This adjusts KenPom for how much they have improved or declined in their KenPom rating over the past month.
- Top 3 Players 32nd was the only dud and picked Villanova.