The process of simulating the NCAA tournaments involves two-steps. The first is determining what statistical prediction model to use to determine the outcome of a game. The second step is to simulate the entire tournament. Simulating the tournament multiple times and keeping track of each outcome is called a Monte Carlo simulation. This simulates the entire tournament 10,000 times and tabulates the results from each round.
On to what the computer says [entire bracket png]! Surprise, surprise the computer says almost everything that you might surmise by using your gut. It predicts Florida winning the entire tournament with almost a 20% probability, and it also predicts very few upsets. Everything is pretty much what you would expect. As I said earlier in the week, the committee does a pretty good job seeding everybody overall.
There are a few ‘undervalued’ teams the simulation has picked. Villanova, a 2-seed , is projected to go to the Final Four. All the other Final Four teams are 1-seeds, which is the seed with the highest probability to reach the Final Four historically. The most dramatic prediction, I think, is the North Dakota State upset. NDSt is a 12-seed. 12-seeds are the most frequently undervalued seed performing well above the expected winning percentage. In betting on an upset, I’d be looking for a lower seed’s win probability to be higher than average for that seed. However, NDSt’s win probability is not only higher than average, it’s higher than Oklahoma’s win probability. I’m putting NDSt to win the first game in all my brackets today.
The rest is pretty obvious, but I’m going to be interested to see how this bracket does against what really happens. And how simulations look after each round.
The bracket is broken into its four regions for viewing ease. The winners are in green and the upset winners are in yellow. The Final Four is the last graphic.