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An analytic take on March Madness

March 20, 2013


New Mexico will be the winner of the NCAA Tournament, according to Professor of Economics Bob Elder. Rounding out his top four projections are Duke, Louisville, and Miami-Florida.

While Louisville and Miami-Florida have also garnered attention from experts, no high profile forecasters have called out New Mexico or Duke. What’s more is none of Elder’s final four picks are from the Big Ten conference or from the Big East.

Elder formulated his predictions by using the Dominetrics methodology he and a former colleague developed, which they argue uses pure mathematics to achieve more objective results than the more subjective Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) that the NCAA Selection Committee uses.

 “I thought Dominetrics generated some good forecasts,” Elder says. “There’s a lot of teams experts are overlooking that have a good chance.”

Overall, the NCAA Selection Committee agrees with Dominetrics on 66 of the 68 teams that should be in the NCAA Tournament. Elder believes that is the closest consensus he and the committee have come to in the relatively short lifespan of Dominetrics. Last year, Dominetrics and the NCAA Selection Committee agreed on 64 of the 68 teams.

The big differences this year are that, using Dominetrics, Elder would not have invited Missouri or Iowa State. In their places, he would have instead invited Massachusetts and Southern Miss.

“It’s interesting because Missouri and Iowa State are in the Big Six conferences, and there’s always debate over or whether or not they’re favored,” Elder says. “We’d exclude two from the big conferences and replace them with schools from smaller conferences.”

Lastly, Elder asserts Gonzaga is very overrated. While the small school in Washington received a No. 1 seed from the NCAA Selection Committee, Dominetrics has it at the No. 6 seed. Elder said he predicts Gonzaga will get eliminated after the second round even though many believe it will go on to the final four.

A small school that is underrated, however, is Belmont. It earned the No. 5 seed from Dominetrics, whereas it received the No. 11 seed from the NCAA Selection Committee.

“Dominetrics performs well overall, and it’s eventually a goal of mine to get it on the radar screen of the Selection Committee to at least use it as a tool,” Elder says.