Posted by Danny TarlowWell that was an exciting and surprising weekend of basketball. (8)Butler beat (2)Florida in overtime, and (11)Virginia Commonwealth handily took care of (1)Kansas, eliminating the last remaining #1 seed. Rounding out the Final Four are (3)UConn and (4)Kentucky.
March Madness is usually good for some Cinderella stories, but this Final Four seems particularly improbable. There are no #1 seeds remaining (this has been the case 3 times in March Madness history, according to the TV announcers), and never before have teams seeded as low as #11 and #8 met in a Final Four game.
None of the entries in our second annual March Madness Algorithm Challenge saw this amount of madness coming. Two entrants correctly predicted that (3)UConn would make the final four (Team Delete Kernel and The Pain Machine), but no other algorithms or baselines got any Final Four teams correct. In fact, the only entry that has any more chance at points is The Pain Machine, which has UConn winning one more game.
So the question of which algorithm will win the contest is still not settled: a UConn victory on April 2, and The Pain Machine walks home with the prize; a UConn loss, and Team Delete Kernel is our winner.
What is settled at this point is that a machine will claim victory over the human-aided competition. The human baselines include our commissioner Lee's bracket; the Higher Seed bracket (where the human intervention came via the committee that chose seeds); and the Nate Silver baseline, which was a part-human, part-computer effort.
To give you an idea of the potentially winning methodologies, Scott Turner (The Pain Machine) describes his approach here, and Kevin Lee (Team Delete Kernel) based his model on the method described here.
So it's premature to congratulate a winner yet, but let me tritely say that I, for one, welcome our new March Madness algorithm overlords.
ENTRANT R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Winner Pts Possible Team Delete Kernel 23 20 16 8 - Ohio St. 67 67 Human (Lee)* 25 18 16 0 - Kansas 59 59 Baseline (Higher Seed)* 25 20 12 0 - Ohio St. 57 57 The Pain Machine 19 18 8 8 - Kansas 53 69 Baseline (Nate Silver)* 25 20 8 0 - Ohio St. 53 53 InItToWinIt 22 20 8 0 - Kansas 50 50 Baseline (TrueSkill) 26 18 4 0 - Ohio St. 48 48 Danny's Dangerous Picks 22 16 8 0 - Duke 46 46 Baseline (LRMC) 25 16 4 0 - Ohio St. 45 45 DukeRepeats 23 16 4 0 - Duke 43 43 Point Differential Centrality 23 16 4 0 - Ohio St. 43 43 dirknbr1 23 8 4 0 - Ohio St. 35 35 * Denotes human-involvement.You can see the full brackets here (Update: actually, it looks like Yahoo took them down). Also, there is a second, Sweet 16 contest that we haven't mentioned lately. Stay tuned for an update on that front.