Going with my gut in previous tournaments has yielded nothing but ABJECT FAILURE, and so this time, I entrusted my picks to SKYNET and let science, technology and complex algorithms be my guides. I share with you this Selection Science in order for you to mock, learn, and ultimately give me 1,736 Miller Lites to pour on lordnick’s head. Some of you may be inspired to also apply this SCIENCE as you complete your own bracket machinations. Probably not, though.
Many of you will have read the SI article earlier this year about whether home-field advantage exists (short answer – yes, and it’s because the refs are wired to gravitate toward crowd acceptance), based on the book Scorecasting (basically the Freakonomics of sport). Interesting stuff, so I decided to test it on this year’s NCAA field. First, measuring the distance between each game venue and the schools competing there, and then giving the win to the closest team. (Distance is as the crow flies, based on the university’s zip code provided on their Web site).
So, does the outcome pass the smell test? It actually might. You end up with plenty of chalk, but not a completely Obamaesque Final Four – UNC, Kansas, San Diego State and Florida, with Kansas taking home the title. Nothing ridiculous, like a 16 beating a 1. And some pretty dramatic upsets – Bucknell over UConn and Cincy, only falling to SDSU in the Sweet Sixteen. Clemson hangs around long enough to fall to Ohio State at that stage, and Memphis beats Duke to advance to the Elite Eight. Old Dominion does likewise, knocking off Putt along the way.
As for the Hoyas – the SCIENCE dictates victory over VCU, but defeat to Purdue (who get all the way to the Eight). At this point, I will favor FAITH over SCIENCE.
One other thing to keep an eye on – does little disparity in distance indicate a closer game? Watch out for Wisconsin-Belmont in Tucson – 1,392 miles vs. 1,400 miles. Those eight miles could hint at a squeaker. Or not. Indiana State should push Cuse (only 17 miles difference for their game in Cleveland) but ultimately fall short. Expect Florida to annihilate UC-Santa Barbara in Tampa, and if the brackets hold, San Diego State to do unspeakable things to Bucknell in Anaheim.
(Oh, and for those still reading, the record so far is 3-1 in the First Four. Only UTSA-Alabama St. bucked the distance logic.)