clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NCAA Bracket Unfair, But Could March Madness Seeding Be Done Better?

Nate Silver, currently of the New York Times, took the time to go in-depth and examine the NCAA Tournament seeding. Silver, an incredibly smart statistical mind, has been slowly releasing analysis of different aspects of the NCAA bracket, from the aforementioned seeding to locations and how each plays a role in a team's success. In his examination of the success of certain seeds in the NCAA Tournament, Silver found a glaring problem: March Madness is unfair.

So that's being a little dramatic. The main point of it all is that lower seeds, say a No. 10 seed, are better off in the tournament than certain higher seeds, specifically eighth- and ninth-seeded teams. The problem with the bracket comes smack-dab in the center, where a No. 8 or a No. 9 stands virtually no chance to make it to the Sweet Sixteen after running into a No. 1 seed, historically the best position in the tournament by far, in the second round.

Silver introduced a solution in his piece -- using tennis-style seeding -- but CougCenter's Jeff Nusser took it a step further. After the jump, we'll look at what Jeff came up with.

It's difficult to explain without using some of the visual aids he did, so I highly suggest heading over and reading the whole thing. In short, he suggest creating pods; placing seeds one through four at the head of the pods and playing those out in the first two rounds.

However, instead of seeding the teams in the current fashion -- in which the No. 1 seed is guaranteed to play no better than the average (No. 8 or 9) seeded team in the second round, the No. 2 seed guaranteed to play no better than a slightly above average (No. 7) seed in the second round, and so on -- place the three worst teams in the same pod as the No. 1 seed, the next three worst teams in with the No. 2 seed, and so on

The prize, in this instance, is a berth in the Sweet Sixteen. Let's be honest, for most schools, a trip to the NCAA Tournament is enough. For others, getting out of that first weekend is a memory that will last a lifetime. For precious few, it's Final Four or bust.

With that in mind, Jeff came up with his pod solution. In many ways, it eliminates the made for TV upsets and Cinderella stories, but consider his solution in a vacuum. The true goal of the NCAA Tournament is to find the fairest way to crown a champion. The rest is just white noise.

So would it work? Or is this a case where we shouldn't mess with a good thing? After all, change is coming, as evidenced by the slow bracket creep to 68 this year.

I cannot recommend Silver's blog enough. If you're looking for the statistical side of March Madness, check out the work he's doing. You won't be disappointed. For more from Jeff, hop over to SB Nation's CougCenter.