I like many others have thrown myself into March Madness, and went and rented NCAA Basketball 10 by EA Sports. When the Bracket came out I replicated the Bracket in the game, so it could help me fill out my real tournament brackets.
I follow College Basketball, but by no means do I know about every single team. So filling out my bracket I always favor the higher seeds because those are the teams that are on T.V. all the time and easiest to follow.
Well I did not pay much attention to the “Mid-major” teams this year, so as I am playing a few games and simulating others I notice some odd outcomes. The computer has Butler in the Sweet 16, and Northern Iowa beating Kansas! I re-open my save file and simulate again Butler in the Sweet 16, but Kansas beats Northern Iowa this time, so I ignore most of the upsets the computer is predicting.
I turn my brackets in just before game time, totally confident that my “superior” knowledge of college basketball will trump the predictions made by the EA game. Well after the first weekend my bracket was busted, two of my final four teams and my national champion had been knocked out.
So I go and take a look at the March Madness 2010 bracket simulated by the computer and to my surprise the computer simulated a near perfect bracket. Here are the upsets the computer picked:
Murray State over Vanderbilt
Old Dominion over Notre Dame
Northern Iowa over UNLV
Washington over Marquette
I was a bit in shock that those games were picked as winners by the computer, so this weekend rolls around and I simulate again to see where the computer is on its predictions. To my surprise the computer had done it again with the following picks:
Butler over Syracuse
Washington over New Mexico
Xavier over Pittsburgh
Tennessee over Ohio State
The computer did have Kentucky beating West Virginia which turned out to be incorrect, but there were oddities no matter how many times I simulated Northern Iowa never beat Kansas. But it seems to me that the logic programmed into the game is better at predicting games than the sports books in Las Vegas.
Had I put money on my bracket and followed the computers advice I would be rolling in it right now. It made me start to think that maybe all those stats and calculations of each player that EA puts into every game are not just random once you get past the big name teams.
So next time you are thinking of putting money on a game or just playing in an office pool, pop in your favorite EA game and run some simulations. You will find surprisingly enough that it is more accurate than it is wrong!!
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