You Might As Well Flip A Coin To Fill In Your NCAA Brackets, Researcher Says
Hey, basketball pundits, here’s something about March Madness that could make you really mad.
Flipping a coin to fill in your NCAA Tournament brackets may yield better results than making selections based on your personal assessment of the teams, a University of Michigan professor says.
“You have to realize that there’s a level of chance that comes into play even though we consider sports betting a skill-based gaming,” Dr. Dae Hee Kwak, an assistant professor of sport management, told The Huffington Post.
Now before any fan surrenders all hope ahead of the brackets announcement on Sunday, Kwak is basing his theory on a single instance: the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It happened to be a year in which no top seed made the Final Four.
For his informal study, Kwak invited 200 Michigan students and alumni to fill out brackets to the best of their ability while he picked winners for three separate bracket sheets based on coin flips. The coin-flip brackets outperformed the average score of the participants, he found.
What do others make of the theory? One mathematician said sports knowledge actually can provide an edge.
“It is hard for me to imagine he’s saying that the coin flipper will on average get as many games right as a more principled player,” Dr. Jordan Ellenberg, a math professor at the University of Wisconsin, told HuffPost. “That’s very hard to believe.”
Ellenberg pointed to a coin-flip statistic for last year’s tournament that he said showed “coin-flip brackets do REALLY REALLY BADLY relative to the median ESPN Tournament Challenge player, who is presumably using their basketball knowledge and trying to win.”