Wednesday, April 6, 2011

NCAA Tourney 2011: Nicole's Crystal Ball (Part 4)

Third Round
Ohio State over George Mason: "Ooh, I really like the masons.  1 vs. 8 though.  Fat guy vs. Free Masons.  Fat people make me feel better."  Result: correct [Note: The "fat guy" is the Buckeye mascot.]
Clemson over Princeton: "Tigers vs. Tigers! But Clementines are cute and yummy." Result: incorrect, both teams had lost in the 2nd round.
Syracuse over Xavier: "Professor X vs. Jeff.  6 vs. 3.  Jeff gets a little help; let's have him go one more." Result: incorrect, Syracuse lost to Marquette in this game. [Note: Jeff is a former co-worker, Jeff Suss.]
North Carolina over Georgia: "Upsetting UNC?  I don't like Peaches that much." Result: correct [Note: "Peaches" is a friend, Andy Etters, who is from Georgia.]
Duke over Michigan: "Ooh, Wolverines...but it's 1 vs. 8.  Who did you pick? [Duke]  That dude coaches the Olympics.  Yes to Duke." Result: correct
Arizona over Texas: "[In Will Farrell's George W. Bush voice:] 'Don't mess with Texas.'  Wildcat vs. a longhorn.  That's an interesting fight.  The wildcat is quicker; wildcats would win.  We've gotta start getting more serious about this mascot thing." Result: correct
Connecticut over Missouri: "Connecticut!  It's our street!  And you were born there.  Ooh, that means first boyfriend vs. second.  But I married the second one.  Boom!" Result: correct
San Diego State over Penn State: "San Diego is a whale's vagina.  Look it up; it's in the Geneva Convention." Result: correct [Note: These are paraphrases of two different lines from two different Will Farrell movies.  Between these, the Texas line and her obsession with cougars because of Talladega Nights, she's basing most of her picks on his comedy in one way or another.] 
Kansas over Illinois: "1 vs. 9.  1 always goes at least two rounds." Result: correct
Vanderbilt over Morehead State: "V." Result: incorrect, Vanderbilt had lost in the second round.
Georgetown over St. Peter's: "Aren't they just bulldogs with spikey collars?  Do that one." Result: incorrect, both teams had lost in the second round.
Notre Dame over Texas A&M: "Notre Dame!" Result: incorrect, Notre Dame lost of Florida State in this game.
Pittsburgh over Butler: "Panther is close to cougar.  Although Pittsburgh does have an NFL team.  [I told her that Butler is near Indianapolis, which also has an NFL team.]  Both have NFL teams, but a cougar would kill a bulldog." Result: incorrect, Butler won this game.
Wisconsin over Utah State: "Double-U beats U." Result: correct
BYU over Gonzaga: "Cougs! [As Farrell's Ricky Bobby:] 'How can I control my heartbeat!?'" Result: correct
UCLA over Florida: "Ooh, that's a tough one.  Go Sharks, but a gator vs. a bear?  Now that would be awesome.  [As Jim Halpert:] 'What kind of bear is best?'  Bear is best." Result: incorrect, Florida won this game. [She said "Go Sharks" because the Florida fans do the same arm-movement-chomp as San Jose Sharks fans.]
(Results: 9-7 but with seven-of-eight elite eight teams left, three-of-four final four, one finalist, and her champion)

Sweet Sixteen
Ohio State over Clemson: "Oranges can't beat fat people.  The fat people would just eat them." Result: incorrect, Kentucky won this game.
North Carolina over Syracuse: "We already helped Jeff for two rounds.  And I like blue." Result: correct
Duke over Arizona: [As Farrell in Old School:] "You're my boy, Blue!" Result: incorrect, Arizona won this game.
Connecticut over San Diego State: "Whoa, this is interesting.  Alright, let's play this out.  Aztecs vs. Huskies.  San Diego vs. Connecticut so where we met vs. where you were born.  San Diego has an NFL team that I don't like.  Wait, is this 'UConn'?  I love UConn!"  Result: correct
Kansas over Vanderbilt: "Jayhawk is like an Indian, right? [It's a bird.] Oh.  Well a Commodore is like a pirate.  And that guy from Pirates was a total sissy, so Kansas is more legit.  More American.  And they're the 1-seed." Result: correct [Note: I assume the guy from Pirates is Johnny Depp.]
Notre Dame over Georgetown: "Both Catholics, oh shoot.  The numbers are 2 and 6.  And I've been to Notre Dame.  [We've been to Georgetown, too.]  Yeah, but I was in Notre Dame's gym.  And I was the mascot there.  [Actually, I was the mascot there.  You were a cheerleader.]  Shut up.  And don't write that.  It's St. Patrick's Day; Irish win." Result: incorrect, VCU beat Florida State in this game. [Note: All of that happened in the 2000 Women's NCAA Tournament when USD played at Notre Dame in the first round.  Nicole was our school's mascot but stepped in for an ill cheerleader for that game and I went as the mascot so I could go to the game for free during spring break.  But I'm gonna be in big trouble when she sees I wrote that.]
Wisconsin over Pittsburgh: "Cougars vs. Beavers?  Please.  [Actually it's Panthers and Badgers.]  Whatever.  I hate Pittsburgh; the Steelers suck and that guy needs a haircut.  And my cousin, Blake, went to Wisconsin and he needs good news." Result: incorrect, Butler won this game.  [Note: I'm not sure the guy who needs a haircut is, but I assume Troy Polamalu.  Blake was in a terrible car accident a few months ago and is recovering.]
BYU over UCLA: "Oh man, a coug vs. a bear!  Cougs.  I have to be consistent." Result: incorrect, Florida won this game. [Note: Consistent with what?  They're the only cougars in the tournament.]
(Results: 3-5, with one Final Four team, one finalist and her champion left)

Elite Eight
Ohio State over North Carolina: "What city is Ohio State in? [Columbus] I do like Christopher Columbus. But I like UNC's blue.  But our frisbee team is Flip Cup and we're red.  They're both public.  I like Duke better than Carolina." Result: incorrect, Kentucky won this game.
Connecticut over Duke: "Whoa.  That's hard.  I love Duke.  And UConn's blue too.  And it's Connecticut.  1 vs. 3.  That's close.  What did you pick? [Duke] But you're from there and we live on it.  Blue Devils and Huskies.  I picked Duke last year, so not Duke again." Result: correct
Notre Dame over Kansas: "Notre Dame." Result: incorrect, VCU won this game.
BYU over Wisconsin: "Cougs." Result: incorrect, Butler beat Florida in this game.
(Results: 1-3, with one finalist and her champion still left)

Final Four
Connecticut over Ohio State: [Long pause while considering this one closely.] "UConn has a cooler name.  And we live on Connecticut Street, and you were born there.  And all Ohio has going for them is flip cup and fat people." Result: correct
Notre Dame over BYU: "Catholics vs. Mormons.  Blowout!" Result: incorrect, Butler beat VCU in this game.
(Results: 1-1, with her champion still left)

Championship Game
Connecticut over Notre Dame: "I really like Notre Dame, but I just can't do it.  The NFL really pissed me off.  So UConn." Result: correct [Note: While Notre Dame is not in an NFL city, it is in Indiana, home of the Colts.]

Tie-Breaker: Championship Score
"Connecticut will get 78 because you were born there in that year.  And Notre Dame will get 73 because 7 and 3 are the holy numbers.  7 sins and the Trinity!  So 78-73."

Some new patterns have emerged.  Any vague connection to any Will Farrell movie or line is usually worth one or two picks.  This used to just be for Talladega Nights, but it seems to now be all of them.  
Notre Dame is her favorite school, for sure.  Second is Duke and she obviously is starting to like Connecticut a lot too.

Part 5: Final Statistical Results (coming Thursday)
Tourney Bonus Coverage: The Jim Nantz-pun-o-meter game (coming soon)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NCAA Tourney 2011: Nicole's Crystal Ball (Part 3)

The dust has settled and Nicole won both bracket contests she entered again this year.  So whether it makes any sense or not, we have to allow for the fact that whatever she is doing works.  How well?  She ranked in the 98th percentile nationally on Yahoo! and approximately 1.1 million people were entered there.  So pretty well.

As you will see from her picks and reasoning below, and as I've written before, she is partial to cougars (or similar), the color blue, states/schools she likes or has some connection to, schools that start with "V", single-word names, intimidating mascots, private/Catholic schools, and, if all else fails, better seeds.  She also said this year that she was against schools in NFL cities because of the lockout (actually it was because she got me the Sunday Ticket for Christmas and I may not get to enjoy it because of the lockout).  She also said that she no longer favors schools from the South or around New Orleans because the Saints won the Super Bowl.

As always, I told her the schools, seeds and mascots.  Sometimes she asked for more information like colors, cities and public/private.  Sometimes she knew that already.  Believe it or not, no alcohol was consumed prior to picking, but it was really late at night.

East Round 2
Ohio State over UTSA: "Aren't the Buckeyes that fat guy? But I don't want to look stupid, so I pick the far people.  They'll motivate me to lose weight." Result: correct
George Mason over Villanova: "Tough because it's a V school.  But National Treasure had the Masons and Nicholas Cage needs a break. Result: correct
Clemson over West Virginia: "Clementine oranges: cute name though Tigers are way better." Result: incorrect, West Virginia went on to the 3rd round.
Princeton over Kentucky: "Wildcats vs. Tiger is a great battle.  Let's do Princeton; I really like them.  And KFC sucks." Result: incorrect, Kentucky went on to the Final Four. [Note: Nicole knows nothing about Princeton basketball and presumably likes them because they're smart kids.]
Xavier over Marquette: "Isn't 'Xavier' spelled with an 'x'?  That guy from X-Men is pretty bad-ass.  That would be a huge word on Words with Friends [like scrabble]." Result: incorrect, Marquette went on to the Sweet 16.
Syracuse over Indiana State: "Didn't Syracuse win last year? [No]  Jeff [Suss, a former colleague] went there and he has to move to Portland.  Orangemen is a really cool mascot, like my Clementines!  Sycamores is lame dude.  Trees?" Result: correct [Note: When I told her that Larry Bird went to Indiana State, she said, "Bird is overrated."]
Georgia over Washington: "Peaches [Andy Etters, a former ultimate teammate] is from Georgia.  Do they have the NFL? [They both do.]  Oh man, the Seahawks is Pete Carroll.  Bulldogs vs. Huskies...hmm...that's a tough one.  I really don't like Carroll." Result: incorrect, Washington went on to the 3rd round.
North Carolina over Long Island: "Long Island is barely even a state. [In fact, it's not one.] I know UNC is good and plus, they match USD's colors." Result: correct

West Round 2
Duke over Hampton: "The Hamptons suck.  The Hamptons is like wannabe-Malibu.  It's all rocks.  Stupid." Result: correct [Note: She's never been to the Hamptons and I think she's thinking of Cape Cod.]
Michigan over Tennessee: "Right off the bat, I was thinking Wolverines because we already have a Xavier.  That would be cool.  Plus, "Volunteer"?  That's really your mascot?  Does a Wolverine have claws?  Wait, is it a fictional character? [She forgets that it's a real animal every year.] I feel like Wolverines is better than Cougars." Result: incorrect, Michigan went on to the 3rd round.  [Note: This Wolverines vs. Cougars thing really floored me.  Cougar-superiority has been at the core of her entire system for years.  I though she was doomed after this.]
Arizona over Memphis: "Wildcats are pretty sissy, right...vs. a tiger?  David Levin [co-worker] went to Arizona and I promised him one.  He made me feel welcome at work." Result: correct
Texas over Oakland: "Isn't that the Texas where Wendy went?  Oakland here sucks.  But I do work there.  Oh, Wendy.  Screw her!  She moved away from us.  What's the other team's number? [13 vs. 4].  No chance.  Plus, I like Wendy. [Note: We actually moved away almost a year before Wendy did, but she did move further.]
Missouri over Cincinnati: "Bearcats?  That name is just too long.  But I had an old boyfriend that went to Mizzou.  How can I take that school seriously?  How do you even spell Cincinnati?  Oh!  The Bengals!  F those guys." Result: incorrect, Cincinnati went on to the 3rd round.
Connecticut over Bucknell: "Buck 'em off the list!" Result: correct [Note: she was extremely proud of this pun.  Jim Nantz would have been, as well.]
Penn State over Temple: "Stupidest mascots ever. [I explained that a Nittany Lion is a local mountain lion.] You have a Penn State shirts, right?  And 'Owl'?  Seriously?" Result: incorrect, Temple went on to the 3rd round.
San Diego State over Northern Colorado: "SDSU is a 2?  Northern Colorado...too many words ["San Diego State" has more words] Both have NFL teams, so it's a tie.  Go with the numbers [seeds]." Result: correct

Southwest Round 2
Kansas over Boston: "Terriers?  Like the dog?  Those are kick-dogs." Result: correct [A kick-dog is apparently a dog small enough to punt.]
Illinois over UNLV: "How can you even take a school seriously from Las Vegas?" Result: correct
Vanderbilt over Richmond: "Spiders?  Jeff [Donlevy, my brother-in-law] went to Vandy and it's a "V" school.  And he let us stay at their house for a week over Christmas.  And he gave us Dom Perignon at New Years!" Result: incorrect, Richmond went on to the Sweet 16.
Morehead State over Louisville: "I have a hard time taking that one seriously because it sounds like Louis Vuitton.  Morehead is funny.  Go with the funny one." Result: correct [Note: It's moment like this where you realize her genius.  She thinks sounding like a designer disqualifies you from winning, but a penis joke makes you win.]
Georgetown over Virginia Commonwealth: "Too many words." Result: incorrect, VCU went on to the Final Four.
St. Peter's over Purdue: "I like St. Peter's Basilica.  And it's Catholic and private.  Is the other one Catholic?  [No]  Both mascots are kinda lame.  14 over 3...that's impossible.  But 'Purdue' sounds like 'poo.'" Result: incorrect, Purdue went on to the 3rd round.
Texas A&M over Florida State: "Aggies?  Well that's stupid.  Although Jim and Steve [my brothers] were Aggies [at UC Davis].  Wait, is this the Florida that does the 'chomp, chomp'?  [No, this is the tomahawk-ones.]  That tomahawk thing is annoying and pretentious.  I pick the non-Florida one.  I mean, what are they, hailing Hitler?" Result: incorrect, Florida State went on to the Sweet 16.
Notre Dame over Akron: "Notre Dame!  Yeah!  Catholic and Irish!  I don't know the other one, 'Zips' is pretty sick, dude." Result: correct

Southeast Round 2
Pittsburgh over UNC-Asheville: "Panthers, ooh, that's like a cougar." Result: correct
Butler over Old Dominion: "Monarchs?  Butterflies?  Gimme a break." Result: correct [Note: "Monarchs" actually refers to actual monarchs, not butterflies.]
Utah State over Kansas State: "No more wildcats.  Kansas has the Chiefs, so Utah it is!" Result: incorrect, Kansas State went on to the 3rd round. [Note: when I told her that the KC Chiefs play in Missouri, not Kansas, she said, "That's stupid.  Why did the NFL name them the 'Kansas City Chiefs' then?"]
Wisconsin over Belmont: "Didn't that horse die at the Belmont?  Anthony and Adria [friends] and my cousins went to Wisconsin. Result: correct [Note: I think she's thinking of Barbaro who was put down after breaking his leg at the Preakness in 2006.  Either way, impressive knowledge.]
Gonzaga over St. John's: "I really don't like St. John's because Angelina Jolie is the spokesperson.  And Justin Howard [friend]!  WCC-representation!" Result: correct [Note: I have no idea what the Angelina Jolie line means.]
UCLA over Michigan State: "U-C-L-A-fight-fight-fight!  I feel like if you've been to a game, you should root for them.  Unless they're a-holes.  Like Chargers fans.  Screw SDSU." Result: correct
Florida over UCSB: "Chomp-chomp! Santa Barbara is a part school.  Plus, Chris [Valente, a longtime friend of mine and UCSB alumnus] GTL's."  Result: correct

I will continue with the rest of Nicole's picks tomorrow.  She was a pedestrian 21-11 with this picks in the first round, but these things aren't won in the first round anyway.

Part 1: Results through the Round of 64
Part 2: Statistical Comparisons of Nicole's system vs. AP, RPI, seeds and Sagarin through Round of 32
Part 4: Nicole's Round of 32 through Championship picks
Part 5: Final Statistical Results (coming Thursday)
Tourney Bonus Coverage: The Jim Nantz-pun-o-meter game (coming soon)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NCAA Tourney 2011: Nicole's Crystal Ball (Part 2)

Since my wife first started filling out her own bracket two years ago, I have come to realize that while her system makes absolutely no sense, it works.  So this year, I decided to try and quantify why.

Categories Nicole Uses:
Better seeds 37-11
Best/Worst Conferences (listing only those with multiple bids)
  • ACC 7-1 (3-0 in Round of 32)
  • MWC 4-1 (2-0 in Round of 32)
  • Colonial 4-2
  • Big East 9-9 (2-5 in Round of 32)
  • CUSA 0-2
  • MAC 0-2
BCS Conferences vs. Non-BCS Conferences 18-8

Best/Worst States (listing only those with multiple bids)
  • Florida 4-0
  • Wisconsin 4-0
  • North Carolina 5-1
  • Alabama 0-2
  • New Jersey 0-2
  • Tennessee 0-4
  • Animals vs. People 11-7
  • Cats vs. Dogs 3-2
  • Wildcats 5-2
  • Huskies 3-1
  • Bulldogs 4-3
  • Tigers 1-4
  • Ancient Greeks (Trojans and Spartans) 0-3
Best/Worst Colors
  • Red 14-9 (6-2 in Round of 32)
  • Blue 33-28
  • White 19-16
  • Purple 3-3 (eliminated)
  • Black 7-11
  • Green 1-3 (eliminated)
Best/Worst Color Combinations
  • Blue/Red 6-1 (3-0 in Round of 32)
  • Blue/White 14-8 (6-1 in Round of 32)
  • Orange/blue 4-3
  • Single color 2-3
  • Blue/Gold 6-7 (1-4 in Round of 32)
  • Green/White 0-2
  • Blue/Gray 0-2
Public vs. Private 9-5
East of the Mississippi vs. West 9-11
Union vs. Confederacy 8-10

Totals for various systems:
  • Nicole’s Actual Picks 30-18 – 62.5%
  • Better Regular Season Final RPI vs. Worse 33-15 – 68.8% (East 10-2, West 11-1, SW 4-8 and SE 8-4)
  • Better Regular Season Final AP Ranking vs. Worse 30-16 – 65.2% (East 9-3, West 10-1, SW 4-8 and SE 7-4)
  • Better Seed vs. Worse 36-12 – 75.0% (East 10-2, West 12-0, SW 4-8 and SE 10-2)
  • Better Regular Season Final Sagarin rating vs. Worse 37-11 – 77.1% (East 10-2, West 12-0, SW 5-7 and SE 10-2)
*These results were not adjusted after each round; they reflect what the bracket would be like had it been picked this way before the Tournament.

Points of interest:
In all four of the more scientific systems just named, they would have 6-of-8 Elite Eight teams left (missing Pitt and Notre Dame), 3-of-4 Final Four teams left (missing Pitt), and both Finalists.  Nicole has 7-of-8 Elite Eight teams left (missing Notre Dame), 3-of-4 Final Four teams (missing Notre Dame), and one Finalist (missing Notre Dame).  So she did worse than all four heading into the Sweet 16, but they way points generally multiply in later rounds, she is actual in a far better position than all four.

In the 11 games whose results featured a worse seed winning, one was a 9 beating an 8, one was a 5 beating a 4, and four others featured “upset” wins by major national programs (Florida State, Gonzaga and Marquette twice) – hardly “Cinderella” material.  That means through 48 games, only five game were truly unforeseeable upsets: 11 VCU over 6 Georgetown, 12 Richmond over 5 Vanderbilt, 13 Morehead State over 4 Louisville (which Nicole picked), 11 VCU over 3 Purdue, and 8 Butler over 1 Pittsburgh.  We all should have seen the other 89% coming.