BRACKET STRATEGY #10: Outcome Match

Risk: Untested

Results: 2007 This is a new model for 2012

Strategy: Every once in a while, when I've been deprived of enough sleep, a brainstorm rumbles over me. I've been somewhat disappointed with the chalkiness of many of the brackets that the numbers have spit out over the last 24 hours. I've been most pleased with the brackets that look and feel like the historical outcomes of the 64-team tourneys. Let's face it: the average tourney has 8.5 upsets--and I've been saying there will be more all season. So what good is it to fill out a bracket with three surprises? And if there are four 3v6/4v5 games, the odds are that the lower seed will win two of them. So why not make the outcome your bracket look like the actual tourney results?

I found my inspiration for how to do this when I was examining the Pythag curve of this year's top 14 seeds with their historical counterparts. The results were pretty eye-opening. I'll share them on the blog tomorrow morning. They got me to thinking that it was too simplistic to just advance the higher Pythag team over the lower one. If I need to have six upsets in the first round, say, and Pythag doesn't give me that, then I should take the underdogs that are closest to springing an upset, those low-seeded longshot whose Pythag gap is closer to its favored opponent than the historical difference.

So that's the strategy I adopted. I force-fit six upsets in the first round, three in the second and one in the Sweet 16. And for toss-up games, I followed historical win averages of the higher and lower seed to make the results look like a real bracket should. I'm sure there's a fancy statistical name for this, but I call it "outcome matching."

Outlook: The final results of this bracket aren't exactly crazy, but the route to the Final Four is a little bumpier. Missouri reaches the Final Four after Memphis upsets both MSU and Louisville. 11 seed Texas and 12 seed California make surprise runs to the Sweet 16. And there's even a 4v13 upset (which I rarely pick): New Mexico State shocks the Hoosiers. How's all that grab ya?