Understanding the Basics
If you’ve read the December 30 blog post, “Numbers say the 2014 dance will get crazy,” you know that the 2010-2013 dances have marked the maddest four-year stretch of the 29-year, 64-team tourney era. And they came hard on the heels of the sanest three-year period of March Madness.
We know this because we devised a gauge called the Madometer that measures each tourney’s deviation from perfect high-seed success. If the higher seed advanced in all 63 games of the tourney (perfect sanity), the cumulative seed value of the winners would be 203. If the lower seed always advanced (sheer madness), their cumulative seed value would be 868. The difference between the two—665—is the predictability range.
Based on the Madometer, the three-year period between 2007-09 deviated from chalkiness by 8.5%. Meanwhile, the most recent four tourneys were 18.7% mad. To use a more standard yardstick, there were just 16 upsets between 2007 and 2009 (5.3 per dance). There were 44 upsets between 2010 and 2013—more than twice as many per tourney.
The first question you should ask yourself when you’re filling out your bracket this year is: how crazy do you think this dance will be? Will we have a wide-open low-seed rebellion like we’ve seen the last four years, or a return to the sanity of 2007 through 2009? With this knowledge alone, you can decide whether you’re going to play your bracket picks close to the vest, or go out on a limb and pick a few more upsets.