A Wise Crowd Selects the NCAA Winner
[UPDATED | National Bracket image | March 17 @ 7:45 AM (cst)]
Conventional wisdom tells us the NCAA Men’s Final Four will consist of all #1 seeds (Illinois, Washington, North Carolina, and Duke). It also tells us the winner will be Illinois, college basketball’s top-ranked team. However, since 1985, #1 seeds have reached the Final Four only 42.5% of the time and top-seeded times have won the tournament 55% of time. Hmm … conventional wisdom doesn’t seem to produce the best results when filling out your NCAA bracket.
What would happen if we applied James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds theory to filling out our NCAA bracket?
Well, it would probably look like this:
This National Bracket is from the collective wisdom of those playing ESPN.com’s online NCAA Tournament game. And as of Monday night, it mirrors conventional wisdom with Wake Forest being the only non-#1 seed to make it to the Final Four.
According to Surowiecki, four qualities must be present for a crowd to be wise:
This ESPN.com National Bracket seems to conform to Surowiecki’s outlined qualities needed for collective wisdom. With over 1.3M submissions last year, the ESPN National Bracket is inclusive of diverse opinions. Each submission is independently entered and the selections are not contingent upon other submissions. It is decentralized in that each person uses their own knowledge to select winning teams. And, ESPN.com aggregates all the submissions to arrive at a collective decision.
It’ll be interesting to see how the collective wisdom of ESPN.com’s National Bracket changes as thousands more diverse opinions are incorporated. You can track the changes to the National Bracket by clicking here.