Thursday, March 23, 2006

It had to be done

As usual, pundits are being stupid about how the final four has never consisted of all #1 seeds, and therefore you're stupid if you have them all in your bracket. A wee bit of probability. Most of the calculation is suppressed to prevent massive boredom.

If each #1 seed has a 40% chance of making the final four. Then the chances of all four making it are about 2.5%. Given that the tournament has had 32 teams for only 27 years, that leaves it a coin flip whether we would have had all four there by now. These numbers are also (roughly) compatible with another actual result, which is that all four have made the elite eight exactly four times.
Is 40% a reasonable number? Look at the distribution of results: 41.6% of the top seeds have in fact made it over the years.
Three top seeds: 3
Two top seeds: 13
One top seed: 10
No top seeds: 1

So duh, right? Well, no. There appear to be a lot of people who don't think it's just a matter of probability.
(If it didn't happen in '93, one of the greatest years ever for college basketball, it might never happen. The only No. 1 to miss the party was Indiana, which might have had the best team in the country until Alan Henderson hurt his knee late in the year. The Hoosiers were beaten in the regional final in St. Louis by No. 2 seed Kansas.)

So the odds are stacked heavily against Duke, Connecticut, Villanova and Memphis advancing en masse to Indy. Don't count on seeing it.
Pat Forde.
That's true. With the four teams in the sweet sixteen, the chances that they'll all make the final four are still pretty bad. But unless one of the teams is mis-seeded (sup, Memphis?) the chances they'll make are as good as, or better than the teams that end up there.

In conclusion, this has been massively boring, but to the extent that you trust me you can be confident that it all works out and the guy lecturing you about why you shouldn't pick all #1 seeds is a hack.


Aaron said...

so, uh ... now that we have the gratification of hindsight, how many #1 seeds did you pick to advance to the final four?

Justin said...

I picked three, and I am among the 66% of people on ESPN who have none of the final four correct.

*le sigh*