March Madness and the Wisdom of Crowds
You don't have to look far to find tear stained brackets from the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Millions of people created brackets and millions were wrong. The question continues to deserve inspection:
Which advice is better, the advice of an expert, or the advice of a crowd?
Did the Crowd get March Madness right?
Why are Brackets Important?Chris Godfrey (@DaWordOfGodfrey) provides an enlightened reasoning:
"As an added bonus, the winner of the Busted Brackets from Busting Brackets Tournament Challenge (copyright pending) will also receive — a man’s hat.
Allow me to explain. In college, my buddy Sam (a frequent contributor to my mailbag and a future member of the Order of Canada) would annually organize a bracket pool where the winner would receive a random item. For example, one year a stuffed rat was involved. It was our college basketball answer to the ridiculousness of rivalry game trophies in college football where teams play for random stuff all the time (boots, skillets, bronzed pigs, a slab of bacon, etc.).
The most coveted item we ever competed for was a man’s hat. I can’t tell you why the hat meant so much. We literally found it on the ground outside of our apartment. However, I would have killed a man for that hat. It was our grand prize.
It was a man’s hat.
It was special.
This year I nominate this snazzy number as the hat that will go to our winner."
Bracket Busting Metrics:Not only was Warren Buffet's Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge killed (damned lawyers), but it's clear that he knows how to offer an un-winnable bet.
- Washington Post - Don't Worry, Everyone Else's NCAA Tournament Bracket is Busted, too.
- ESPN Bracket (11.57 million people): Just 14 Brackets Get Entire Sweet 16 Correct
- President Obama's Bracket - Declining Success, Year over Year
- Yahoo Sports - Millions of Brackets Busted in Less than Five Hours
- BustingBrackets - NCAA Tournament: Busted Brackets from BustingBracks
At the end of the NFL Season I posted a blog with several important questions about my success, and the general success of players in the Yahoo Pro-Pickem pools: NFL Pro-Pickem - Wisdom of Crowds.
If the Crowd is so Wise, Why can't the Crowd win?My brackets are dying. A slow death by a thousand paper cuts. Four of my first round eliminations were decided by a single point. The Second round was equally soul crushing.
- Purdue (1 point game)
- Indiana (5 point game)
- Oklahoma State (6 points)
- Baylor (1 point)
- VCU (3 points)
- SMU (1 point)
- Iowa State (1 point)
- Providence (13 points)
Clearly the answer is: The average weight of a cow is not the same as a perfect bracket.
More Data PleaseIn my previous post I asked if a math wizard at Yahoo Sports would take on the challenge to explain why the Crowd lost.
The ask was for:
- What was the mean Pickem selection?
- Would Yahoo Sports create a "player" with a Pickem profile to recognize the exact mean picks
- Would they recognize the people that made the best tail picks - the least likely (most standard deviations away from the mean) picks -- that were correct.
Bottom Line:I predict that someone will earn a PhD and will write a commercially successful book based on the failure of crowds to win at Bracketology, Pro-Pickem and other pools.
And, I predict that I will continue to challenge the Wisdom of Crowds.
Also, I predict that climate-deniers are correct.