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My 2014 picks

To view my picks select the pool size and which estimate of actual probabilities you wish to use.
These picks will be updated after Wednesday's games.
See my picks from previous years:
  • 2013 picks
  • 2012 picks
  • 2011 picks
  • 2010 picks
  • 2009 picks
  • 2008 picks
  • 2007 picks
  • 2006 picks
  • Actual probabilities: Pool size: (See below for description)


    How it works

    Our methods area based on the premise the favorites tend to be picked to go farther in the tournament that they should. In order to win a large pool, you need to go against the crowd but still pick teams with good chances of winning. To make our picks we need to sets of inputs: estimated actual winning probabilities for each team and data on who everyone else is picking. Finally, you need to know how big of a pool you are in. In larger pools it is more important to avoid the crowd. In smaller ones, you should be picking the teams that have the best chance of winning.

    Actual probabilities

    These can derived from historical information (e.g. how often has a 1 seed beat a 4 seed, etc.), or from various rating systems (e.g. Massey, Sagarin or my own ratings)

    Perceived probabilities

    Both Yahoo and ESPN publish what percentage of people picked a given team to advance to each round. This gives you a fairly accurate picture of who is picking whom.

    Discrepencies between actual and percieved probabilities

    Note that their are major differences between how people pick teams and how likely they are to make the final 4 or win the title. Below are comparisons from previous years.
    Team Reaching the Final Four Winning the Tournament
    Estimated Actual Prob Perceived Prob Estimated Actual Prob Perceived Prob
    Historical Massey Sagarin ESPN Historical Massey Sagarin ESPN
    1 Louisville 43.1%53.9%41.3%50.9% 13.6%28.4%18.8%20.7%
    1 Indiana 43.1%33.3%35.1%44.2% 13.6%8.7%11.2%16.8%
    2 Miami 24.0%20.8%17.5%37.1% 6.7%3.6%3.2%11.4%
    1 Kansas 43.1%28.3%25.7%34.1% 13.6%8.2%8.2%8.5%
    2 Duke 24.0%12.5%38.4%24.6% 6.7%3.0%5.3%8.5%
    2 Ohio State 24.0%22.2%24.4%42.3% 6.7%5.6%6.8%6.0%
    1 Gonzaga 43.1%30.9%23.5%27.0% 13.6%9.5%6.3%5.6%
    2 Georgetown 24.0%20.0%15.3%25.0% 6.7%4.8%3.7%3.6%


    References

    Our article in the 2006 NY Times sports section on picking your pool sheet.

    My paper with Bryan Clair on "Optimal Strategies for Sports Betting Pools": pdf and our software for making picks.

    Results and data from past tournament pools.