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FiveThirtyEight's (Nate Silver) Bracket Probabilites

jeremytwoface's picture
March 18, 2014 at 12:13pm
15 Comments

Not sure if this has been posted or if anyone has checked it out yet, but it is pretty cool.

Nate Silver's new website, FiveThirtyEight.com has a neat bracket predictor on their sports page.

The bracket gives you the probability of every team to make it to certain rounds. Ohio State, for example, is given a...

75% chance of winning their first game
40% getting past the second round
20% chance of making it to the Elite Eight
9% chance to make it to the Final Four
4% chance to make the Championship Game
2% chance to win it all

According to the website, the formula for the odds is based on 
"power rankings, pre-season rankings, the team’s placement on the NCAA’s 68-team S-curve, player injuries and geography."

It looks like they will update the #'s throughout the tournament so that should be cool.

Something that I found interesting is that Ohio State is one of 6 teams (besides the #1 and #2 seeds) that have anything more than a 1% chance to be crowned champions. The other teams include Louisville (15% chance), Michigan State (6%), Duke (5%), Creighton (3%), and Kentucky (2%). So according to these probabilities, Ohio State has a better chance of winning the tournament than 11 other teams ranked the same or higher (not including #1 and #2 seeds). They have a better chance of winning their region than everyone but Florida and Kansas. Not sure what that means in the grand scheme of things, but I thought it was interesting.

Some other things I found interesting - 

- Louisville has the greatest chance to win the tournament at 15% followed by Florida (14%) and Arizona (13%)
- Virginia has a lower chance of reaching round 2 than Wichita State (96% to 98%), but has a better chance to win the whole thing (6% to 5%)
- Kansas has the best odds from the #2 seeds to win it all (6%)

 

You can read more about the formula and how they created the bracket here.

 

 

Jack Fu's picture

Ken Pomeroy released his tournament log5 yesterday too. He's got OSU with a 7.0% chance to make the final four and a 1.1% chance to win the whole thing.

Squirrel Master's picture

I think its a cop out. They don't put a bracket, just what the odds are of it happening. Nate Silver is brilliant but put a real bracket and then show the odds. don't leave it empty and say this is who I would pick IF i were to fill it out.

 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

jeremytwoface's picture

Seems like the same thing to me....

 

And besides, that's what it's about. It's all about statistics with him so there's no point in him actually filling out the names if he's just showing probabilities. 

The first man gets the Oyster, the second man gets the shell.

+1 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

ah but for the Texas/Arizona St game he has it 50/50, so who is he picking there?

still a cop out to not make picks and stand by them. I totally understand his position as a statistician but he still needs to put it out there. I think in past years he has filled out a bracket, so maybe he will later this week.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+1 HS
brandonbauer87's picture

I think the main thing you're missing is these aren't opinions at all. They're just probabilities. If he filled the bracket out it would just be done so by who is the favorite to win each game. Any other method would require either opinion or simulation. 

+4 HS
jeremytwoface's picture

Exactly... It has nothing to do with him filling out a personal bracket. Although, I'm sure his would look very similar to his probabilities.

 

It all just about the numbers. There's no need for him to fill out the bracket.

The first man gets the Oyster, the second man gets the shell.

Squirrel Master's picture

I absolutely understand its a probability piece, not an opinion piece. I would prefer his opinion though and find out who he believes would win as opposed to what the odds are. The odds say a 2 shouldn't lose to a 15, but it happens. So I would prefer to read what he believes will happen, its a cop out to just point out the odds.

and it still doesn't help when Texas and AZST are 50/50. What do you do then if the statistics say that? Do you think he wouldn't use an opinion on that one because the stats don't help at all.

and to your point of interjecting opinion or simulation, at some point opinion and simulation would be necessary. We can assume he would take the higher probable outcome for each pick, but doesn't mean he actually would because even he knows that is not a guarantee.

he is pointing out the probability of the bracket but people want to know his picks because that is what he is known for. making the most logical choice based on the stats, not just spouting the stats. at some point he does make a choice and that is what I am interested in.

 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Jack Fu's picture

So I would prefer to read what he believes will happen, its a cop out to just point out the odds.

You appear to misunderstand the entire point of his site.

+2 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

well first of all, that link goes to an ADD attempt at explaining what the site does, starting from how data is used to how it is incorrectly used in journalism, then about hockey and then about the natural progression of data journalism from collection to explanation. So really, all he does is babble on about how he perceives data journalism and how its inaccurately used. But it doesn't say that there is no opinion used at all at any point on the site, because he shares his opinion in that rant to begin with. So he does have some statement to make in what he writes on that site. All I am saying is that his bracket isn't really a bracket, its just odds. doesn't tell me what I want to know.

and as I stated before, I am aware his bracket is solely on probability. I know his whole website is on data analysis.

that to me is a cop out. You can tell me all you want of what he intends to do, but it still is a cop out to me because he still isn't making a choice.

here, do this for me if you feel I have no point at all. Fill out a bracket based on the statistics alone of who will win it all. Fill it out completely based on who has the best probability. Don't use opinion or any other method for determining who will win. You can't, because when the odds are 50/50 you can't have a winner based on stats alone. You have to use some other form of determining the winner. Now you can dismiss that and say well he gives a winner for the rest, but its not a complete bracket without using some form of an opinion.

I would prefer his opinion based on the stats instead of just spewing out stats alone. To ME, that is a cop out!

 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Jack Fu's picture

He never says he's doing anything other than giving the odds. Just because the information he is sharing is not "what you want to know," doesn't mean it's a "cop out." Silver gives odds; that's what he does. Your complaint is akin to complaining that a stock market analyst didn't tell you what his favorite movie is. That's not what he does.

Johnny-Shane_Utah-Falco's picture

Is it just me, or does he have South Dakota State in there by mistake, instead of North Dakota State.

-1 HS
jeremytwoface's picture

It shows ND State for me.....

 

But San Diego State is also a team in the tournament.

The first man gets the Oyster, the second man gets the shell.

Johnny-Shane_Utah-Falco's picture

ok, maybe that's what I thought. I couldn't find NDSU, was looking for them...thanks. I think they have a good shot of pulling off the 12 over 5 upset.

-1 HS
yrro's picture

Ken Pom's numbers like the Buckeyes a lot better than their win-loss record would indicate. They've lost a lot of close games.

OH_IO's picture

SO YOU'RE TELLING ME THERE'S A CHANCE?!...

Oh yeah... Is it reasonable?