Tuesday, January 19, 2016

(Re-)Introducing STAPLE

No college basketball-focused website is complete without a periodic prediction of the NCAA Tournament bracket. And this site is no exception. For the past several years I've done bracket watch posts whenever my scheduled has allowed me to. 

Unfortunately, as much as I loved compiling those posts--and I really do; looking at who's trending up and down on a weekly basis is a great way to stay engaged with the totality of what's going on in college basketball--with a wife, two kids, and a day job, I'm just not able to write them up with the regularity I'd like. So I did what any good nerd would do: I plowed the time I would've spent working on those posts over the past few months into writing a program which would do the work for me.

The result is the new-and-improved STAPLE (Simple Tournament Algorithm for Predicting the Likelihood of Election--because I loves me some backronyms). Now, with each run of the TAPE ratings, there will be an updated predicted NCAA Tournament bracket and sortable leaderboard of who's likely to be in or out. 

Unlike most other brackets out there, this one is not based on an if-the-season-ended-today model. It takes the long view of the season, and incorporates future schedules and projected future results into account. As such, it's a lot less volatile than most bracket predictions tend to be. It reacts to results, it just doesn't over-react to them.

At the top of the STAPLE page is the most recently updated bracket prediction. It's assembled programmatically and follows all bracketing principles set forth by the Selection Committee. Below that is a sortable table which includes all teams with non-zero at-large chances

As the name implies, STAPLE is pretty simple. Its inputs are few: RPI, TAPE, auto-bid, and scaled bonuses and penalties for good wins and bad losses, respectively. These are scaled into a model which attempts to match the always-moving target of the Selection Committee's at-large selection and seeding criteria. These are weighted into a single number--listed in the table below the bracket simply as "Points."

The second column unique to the STAPLE listings, labeled "STAPLE," is each team's chances, as of the most current system run, of qualifying for an at-large bid.

As always, if I'm missing anything, or you see a glaring hole in my program's interpretation of the bracketing principles, let me know. 

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