Big Data Probabilities of March Madness

2015 Final Four March MAdnessFor the next 4 days, more than 70 million brackets (40 millions people) will be filled out by Americans, entranced with the fallacy of picking a perfect bracket for the Men’s 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Between now and Thursday, millions will evaluate win-loss records, RPI rank, strength of schedule, points per game, and free throw percentages. But that’s all surface level.

You also have to consider who has the easiest road to the final four, which seeds historically have a higher probably of defeating the other. March Madness isn’t just for college basketball fans anymore, it’s turned into who has the best bracket amongst their friends (regardless of they’ve watched any games before the games begin).

Last year, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet, offered up $1 Billion to anyone who successfully picked every match up correctly. For another year, no one was able to predict each game correctly. While Buffet isn’t offering up $1 Billion this year,  The American Gambling Association estimates that $9 Billion will be wagered when it’s all said and done (That’s the same GDP size as The Bahamas). Enough for us to ask again, the probability of picking a perfect bracket.

We wrote a post last year about the actual odds of accurately choosing every game, and the numbers varied. If you flipped a coin, for each probability, the odds were 9.2 quintillion. Here’s the brief description again via, Business Insider:

“If all of these brackets are equally likely — if each game in the entire tournament is a 50-50 tossup, and picking the winner is basically a coin flip — we then get the odds of a correct bracket at one in 9.2 quintillion.

Of course, flipping a coin 63 times is probably not a very good strategy for deciding how to fill out your bracket. Most of the games are not 50-50 matchups.

Consider the first round (the round of 64) of the NCAA Tournament.  Of the 32 games in the first round, there are four games in which four of the best 64 teams (1st seeds)  play four of the worst 64 teams (16th seeds).

Since 1985, when the tournament first expanded to 64 teams, no 16th seed has ever beaten a 1st seed in the round of 64.

If we’re comfortable assuming that this trend continues, we can safely fill in the four 1st seed vs. 16th seed games on our brackets.

Now we have 59 games to pick, and if we flip coins for all those, we have a one in 259, or about one in 576 quadrillion, chance of winning the tournament. Still pretty terrible odds, but by making this one assumption, we have boosted our chances by a factor of 16.”

Will there be someone out there this year to defy the odds? Is big data getting closer to cracking the code of predicting winners? We wish everyone the best of luck. In case you want any assistance, here is FiveThirtyEight’s interactive bracket predictions, and Bing’s bracket predictions.

Photo Courtesy: NCAA.com

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Disclaimer
The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history.

Managed futures accounts can subject to substantial charges for management and advisory fees. The numbers within this website include all such fees, but it may be necessary for those accounts that are subject to these charges to make substantial trading profits in the future to avoid depletion or exhaustion of their assets.

Investors interested in investing with a managed futures program (excepting those programs which are offered exclusively to qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7) will be required to receive and sign off on a disclosure document in compliance with certain CFT rules The disclosure documents contains a complete description of the principal risk factors and each fee to be charged to your account by the CTA, as well as the composite performance of accounts under the CTA's management over at least the most recent five years. Investor interested in investing in any of the programs on this website are urged to carefully read these disclosure documents, including, but not limited to the performance information, before investing in any such programs.

Those investors who are qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7 and interested in investing in a program exempt from having to provide a disclosure document and considered by the regulations to be sophisticated enough to understand the risks and be able to interpret the accuracy and completeness of any performance information on their own.

RCM receives a portion of the commodity brokerage commissions you pay in connection with your futures trading and/or a portion of the interest income (if any) earned on an account's assets. The listed manager may also pay RCM a portion of the fees they receive from accounts introduced to them by RCM.

See the full terms of use and risk disclaimer here.

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