WNUR Bracketology – Week 2: Bad Apples

Okay. We’re back from a brief hiatus. Midterms are now in the rearview mirror, and March is just around the corner. I come bearing projections and a column.

Let me tell you why I’ve never been closer to quitting bracketology than I have been this season.

I first pursued bracketology as an exact science. Even though I knew that it was impossible to devise a formula that could fill out a bracket –– the beauty of the tourney is in the Madness, the randomness and the chaos –– I could devise a formula that could predict what a bracket would look like before it was filled out.

So in freshman year of high school, I set out upon creating a formula that could accurately predict which teams would make the NCAA tournament and what seed they would be.

As my Bracket Project ranking shows (86th despite a very strong showing last year). I abandoned the computer method for the eyeballing method.

In my five years of bracketing, I have come to learn that bracketology is not an exact science. People aren’t computers, committee members change, and double standards are inevitable. I accept this.

But this year is different. This year, the potential faults of bracketologists’ projections lie not in the imprecise nature of human reasoning, but in the teams themselves.

Bracketology should be simple. You’re comparing apples to apples, which makes them easy to organize. But this year more than ever before, a bunch of the apples are deformed. There are so many different kinds of deformities affecting this year’s batch of apples, and you don’t know which types of deformities are worse than the others. Some apples seem to be past their prime (Indiana); some are missing important seeds (Michigan State); some are supposed to taste really good but every time you bite into them they’re more bitter than everyone said they would be (UCF).

Arizona State lost at home to Washington State, then beat Washington two days later. St. John’s is, inexplicably, 5-4 in quadrant 1 games, but 2-3 in quadrant 2 games. Indiana has lost 10 of its last 11 games, and naturally the one game the Hoosiers won was the one they played at Michigan State, when Juwan Morgan had to leave the game early.

These apples don’t make sense. They’re really, really dumb. But I have to pick 68 of them to take to the farmers market. And if I’m being really honest, I’m starting to miss the old days when I only needed to pick 64 of them.

The Usual Disclaimers

  • This is what I think the committee would do given what we know about each team. I do not necessarily agree with the committee’s projected evaluations of these teams.
  • My bracketology does not aim to predict what will happen; it is a simulation of what would happen if the season ended today.
  • Italics in the graphic denote conference champions.
  • Projections do not account for games played on the day the projections are made (ex: games played on Monday, February 18th, are not accounted for in these projections).
  • Keep all of this in mind if you choose to @ me on Twitter.

Projections (and an easter egg)

There are no apples pictured in these projections, but if you look closely and think hard enough, you will find a giant orange.

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