Dr. Senkbeil March Madness Round 2

Tips for Perfecting Your March Madness Bracket


Today is day two of our March Madness feature with Dr. Jason Senkbeil. If you’re looking at how to finish your March Madness bracket with the best chance of accuracy, keep reading!

Ahhhh. Tourney time again. How do you anticipate those upsets and surprises? Who was underseeded or overseeded by the committee? How do you beat the people in your office pool who make decisions based on school colors or mascots or coin flips or number of syllables in the school name, etc.?

The best way to perform is by using statistics. For over 15 years, the go-to statistic has been points scored per possession (offensive efficiency OE) and points given up per possession (defensive efficiency DE). There is always an element of randomness or luck in every game, and therefore some unexpected things will happen. There are 52 games this week in the tournament to get to the sweet 16. We all know that a 16 over 1 is almost impossible, a 15 over 2 is very rare, and a 14 over 3 is rare. Therefore, all games 13 versus 4 and lower are games where the teams are almost even, and this is where stats really help. So with that in mind…

Two things to consider when completing your bracket:

  1. Teams with great OE and poor DE tend to get disrupted by the excess TV timeouts and play stoppages. The tourney tends to have closer games, which favors defensive teams. That being said,  without good OE, you cannot go to the final four.
  2. Underdogs play like they are in their home arenas. Fans love the underdog because it means their team has an easier game next round. This tends to reduce the point spreads for huge favorites if the underdog can just stay in the game.

Missed my tips about the First Four? Check out yesterday’s post. Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments or on Facebook.

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Dr. Senkbeil is a climatologist and meteorologist in the Department of Geography at the University of Alabama. Having always loved sports, he is a College Football and College Basketball Superfan and now GoodBookey’s guest Bracketologist. In his spare time, he reads about sports analytics and statistical trends, sometimes finding common ground with weather forecasting.