Want To Know Who Will Win During March Madness? Go Back To The Preseason Polls.
Data is king. When we’re making any decision of consequence about the future — whether in business, sports or politics — our tech-filled world demands that we collect data to make a meaningful prediction.
Despite the criticism that gets leveled at the NCAA tournament selection committee, the group does take a data-driven approach to choosing the competitors for March Madness. The RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, helps the committee select and seed the field of 68 teams. The RPI takes into account all college basketball games and measures not only the strength of each team’s opponents but strength of its opponents’ opponents as well.
In contrast, the preseason AP and Coaches polls don’t use data from the current season. They can’t, as members must submit their ballots before seeing a single game. It’s the ultimate in gut-level, subjective analysis.
So surely the RPI rankings from the end of the season are a better predictor of tournament success than the preseason polls, right? Right?