First things first: join the MSF Bracket Challenge. You’ll be competing not just against my bracket predictions below, but the picks of our writing staff and hundreds and hundreds of readers. Can you earn MSF March Madness supremacy?
March Madness supremacy is, of course, my goal every year when I post these instant, statistically-based predictions immediately after the brackets are announced.
2012 Bracket Prediction System
If you missed it yesterday, I posted an explanation of this year’s bracket prediction system.
In a nutshell, here is the system, which is based on the Four Factors. If you are unfamiliar with the Four Factors read Ken Pomeroy’s description of them here and the thoughts of Dean Oliver, who originated the Four Factors, here.
Here are the 10 stats I have chosen:
- Offensive Four Factors: eFG%; TO%; OR%; FTrate
- Defensive Four Factors: eFG%; TO%; OR%; FTrate
- Adjusted Efficiency Margin: (AdjOE – AdjDE)
- Strength of Schedule
With 10 stats, obviously several matchups could end up in a 5-5 tie. Here is how I will break ties this year:
- Adjusted Efficiency Margin will be the tie-breaking category.
- If one team’s efficiency margin is better than the other’s by 10 or more, that team wins.
- If the efficiency margin difference is less than 10, then I will break the tie and make the final choice.
Note: Normally I provide the Excel spreadsheet I used to organize the stats and make the picks. I am not doing that this year because the Four Factors data I used is a premium feature at KenPom.com. It wouldn’t be fair to Ken (or, you know, legal) to provide free access to those statistics. But I encourage you to sign up. It has definitely been worth it for me.
Moving on, I provide this caveat every year, so let me offer it again:
I know that there are limitations to this system. I realize a more sophisticated system might weigh individual categories more than others based on their perceived level of influence on winning. I realize that numbers accumulated against tougher schedules are not equivalent to numbers accumulated versus easier schedules; I tried to compensate for this a bit by including strength of schedule as one category. I could go on.
The point is that I am not claiming in any way that this is a perfect or even good system for predicting the most unpredictable sporting event in the world. But I do think it’s better than the systems I’ve used over the last three years, and it does provide an objective, statistics-based system for predicting the tournament if you’re looking for one.
If you agree with the underlying thought processes behind it, I encourage you to use it to help you fill out your brackets.
2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions
And now it’s time to offer my predictions. Here we go, from First Four all the way to Final Four.
Note: depending on when you get to this post, the information below may not be filled out yet. I promise you, I’m efforting to get it filled it out ASAP. As soon as The Selection Show ended, I went to work applying the stats matchup by matchup. I will be updating this post immediately as I finish each region.
First Four Predictions
- Lamar over Vermont
- Western Kentucky over Mississippi Valley State
- California over South Florida
- Iona over BYU
Pat Knight keeps up his winning ways, while Cal and Iona garner victories and delude themselves into thinking they can be this year’s VCU! (Hey, who knows, maybe they can. Stay tuned Cal fans…according to my system your team won’t be done after one game.)
Midwest Region Predictions
Second Round Picks
- #1 North Carolina over #16 Lamar
- #8 Creighton over #9 Alabama
- #4 Michigan over #13 Ohio
- #5 Temple over #12 South Florida
- #2 Kansas over #15 Detroit
- #7 St. Mary’s over #10 Purdue
- #14 Belmont over #3 Georgetown
- #11 NC State over #6 San Diego State
Update: I initially predicted Cal to beat South Florida and then beat Temple in the next round. I clearly was wrong. South Florida blasted Cal, so I am taking a mulligan since most brackets aren’t due until Thursday.
Well let’s start off with a bang shall we? Plenty of upsets in the second round of the Midwest with three double-digit seeds winning. The Belmont and NC State wins were both pick ‘ems. Here’s why I picked the underdogs: Belmont can really score (55.7 eFG%) and their efficiency margin of 20.3 wasn’t far off Georgetown’s 22.7; NC State is better offensively than San Diego State, and I think they are going to be smarting from that loss to UNC. I’ll give them the mental edge.
Third Round Picks
- #1 North Carolina over #8 Creighton
- #4 Michigan over #12 California
- #2 Kansas over #15 St. Mary’s
- #14 Belmont over #11 NC State
Michigan-Cal was a pick ‘em game, and I’m going with Michigan because they have the higher efficiency margin, plus I love Trey Burke. As for Belmont over NC State, it’s another pick ‘em game. I’m gonig with Belmont, again, because of their superior offense and far better efficiency margin (20.3 to 13.9).
Sweet 16 Picks
- #1 North Carolina over #4 Michigan
- #2 Kansas over #14 Belmont
Both of these games are blowouts based on the stats. North Carolina won 7 out of 10 and Kansas won 8 out of 10, including all four defensive categories.
Regional Final Pick
- #2 Kansas over #1 North Carolina
What a matchup of blue bloods here. Kansas ends up getting the nod because they have the higher efficiency margin (30.6 to 29.1) that was generated against a tougher schedule. I’m a little uneasy about this, because I don’t trust Kansas, but gotta go with the system, right? Right…
Midwest Region Champion: Kansas
To see the predictions for the rest of the regions, as well as the Final Four picks, as soon as they are ready, continue on to the next page.