Dissecting Nate Silver’s March Madness Bracket
That’s Nate Silver. You might’ve heard of him — he was the guy who successfully predicted a majority of the 2012 election (he nailed 49 of the 50 states.) Nate Silver is also the guy behind the self-identified ‘data journalism’ website FiveThirtyEight, which just teamed with ESPN to cover a whole bunch of stuff beyond politics, largely through the lens of probability forecasting. Since the ESPN partnership became official, FiveThirtyEight has gained a new cache of visibility in the sports universe, so naturally, it makes sense that Silver’s site would turn its collective brain-cannon toward predicting the NCAA Tournament.
“One of the ways I was able to look smart over the past six years was by betting on the favorite,” Silver wrote in an introductory blog post. “For some reason, in political prognostication, you can be regarded as a savant just by pointing out that the favorite is probably going to win. The standard in sports prediction is higher. And this year’s NCAA basketball tournament is designed to make me look dumb. There aren’t any favorites.”
So Silver changes the game — he’s not providing a bracket. Not really. What he’s doing, along with Matthew Conlen, is providing the odds of each team’s successful advancement to the next round of the tourney based on “a composite of power rankings, pre-season rankings, the team’s placement on the NCAA’s 68-team S-curve, player injuries and geography.” In short, it’s a glorious way to spend a whole lot of time with an interactive flash animation that’ll give you the odds on any given team making it however far you want to check.