It's Tourney Time!

We use Qlik Sense to investigate the numbers behind the bracket.

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With Selection Sunday approaching in for the NCAA basketball season, it is time to start thinking about the approach to filling out your bracket. There are a handful of popular ways to consider the process

Pick the Higher Seed (Safe Approach) – As you go through each matchup the only piece of information that you look at is which team has the higher seed. In the instance that each team in the match-up has the same seed number you generally side with the team you are most familiar with.

Picking the Mascots (Novice Approach) – This is like a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. For each matchup, you look at the mascots and decide, “In the wild, who wins a fight, a Gator or a Wildcat?”, and there is your winner.

First Instinct Approach (Rebel Approach) – You look at the matchup and the first team that catches your eye is the one you choose. This approach lends itself to the “going with your gut” methodology.

Alma Mater Approach (For True Homers) – The first thing that you do is advance your alma mater to the championship and then you go back and you pick the other teams from your alma mater’s conference and you randomly pick the rest.

While all of the above approaches will have you claiming a perfect bracket before the first tip-off, you usually wind up with a lot of red ink after the first two days of action and you are hoping that, at the very least, your Final Four are still intact. 

Through today's blog post, I will introduce a new approach to filling out your bracket by analyzing how each seed fared in the first round of the last 10 NCAA tournaments, as well as, what your Final Four should look like. To do this, I took the results for the first round and I identified the seeds of the Final Four teams as well. Using Qlik Sense, I broke down each seed by wins and losses and I visualized the total sum of seeds for the Final Four to help guide you on which combination of teams you should include in your bracket.

Here is what I found:

In the First Round

Always pick the #1 and the #2 seeds - In the last 10 tournaments, the #1 seed has beaten the #16 seed 100% of the time. The #2 seed is 37-3 vs the #15 seed.

Upset specials with the #12 and the #11 seeds – In the last 10 tournaments, the #12 seed has beaten the #5 seed 17 times in 40 tries (42.4% ) and the #11 seed has beaten the #6 seed 18 times in 40 tries (45%).

The #8/#9 Myth – The is a general idea that the #8 vs #9 should be the most competitive games in the first round as the two teams are, in theory, the most equally matched. In the last ten years, the #8 seed has beaten the #9 seed 27 out of 40 times (67.5%).

In the Final Four

#1 and #2 seeds shine – In the last 10 tournaments, the #1 and #2 seeds reached the final four 23 times out of 40 (57.5%)

#4 seed advances more than #3 seed - #4 seed (5 times) reached the Final Four more often the #3 seed (3 times)

#6 seed is no Cinderella – The #6 seed has failed to reach the Final Four in each of the last 10 tournaments

In a perfect world, when you add the seed numbers for the Final Four teams together, you would get 4 (when all #1 seeds advance). Well, we all know that the world is not perfect. Check out these sums and see that there are always one or two "party crashers". So as you advance your #1 and #2 seeds, keep in mind that you might want to mix in a #5, #7, #8 or even an #11 seed in the mix.

Championship Round

#1 seed is king - The #1 seed has advanced to the championship round 10 times in the last 10 tournaments

The buck stops at #8 – No team seeded lower than #8 has advanced to the Championship round in the last 10 tournaments.

#1 seeds win most often - #1 seeds have cut down the nets 7 out of the last 10 tournaments (70%)

#3 seed could be a sneaky option as well - #3 seeds have won 2 championships in the last 10 years

So to sum up my analysis, in the first round you can stay fairly safe picking the #1, #2, #3, and #4 seeded teams.  #8 beats #9 at a 70% clip and your best bet for upsets are #11 and #12 seeds. When you get to the Final Four, don’t overthink the #1 and the #2 seeds. They both advance to the Final Four more than any other seeds but you might want to think about penciling in a #3 or a #4 seed.  Finally, when you get to the championship round, the #1 seed wins most often and stay away from teams lower than a #7 seed (even if you went to that school!)  :)

Click on this link if you want to perform your own analysis using the charts displayed above!

Photo credit: Beaverbasketball via Foter.com / CC BY

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