By Brandon Chuang
on 3.27.12
Photo by The Power Rank

So you had Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Missouri in your Final Four, huh? Tough break, but hey, it happens. The college basketball season is long; no one outside of Pennsylvania even knows what state Lehigh is in, let alone the fact that they had the perimeter firepower to burn every bracket in America to the ground. The only thing you can do now is to learn from your mistakes, and make sure this never, ever, happens again. But how are you supposed to handle next year’s Lehigh? You could try to go with the polling numbers that many sites afford you, but if you don’t know anything about the guard play of Norfolk State, what makes you think the millions of other guys clicking away on their brackets will be any different?

The Power Rank is a complex computing algorithm that grounds itself in statistical physics: the same foundation used to power Google. The system uses the results generated by each team — wins, margin of victory, strength of schedule — to calculate the probability of a game’s outcome in much the same way the search giant figures out how to display page results. Win a game, and the team’s power rank goes up; win a game against a highly ranked opponent, and the ranking increases even more. All of this information is then packaged for the tournament into an interactive visual format that allows visitors to hover over games to see the exact likelihood of that game’s outcome. Obviously a little too late for this year’s debacle, but look out March Madness 2013. We already know all about the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

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