It's tournament time and that means brackets! Most people eschew the completion of the lowly conference tournament bracket but doing so can be just as fun and exciting as an NCAA bracket. Think of it as the chance to dry run those off-the-wall decision rules before utilizing them for the main event.
I like filling out the SEC Tournament bracket. My dad and I have swapped our picks for the last 12-13 years or so. He only follows UK and gets most of his basketball info from the Herald Leader. I try to watch everyone in the conference play at least a couple of times and frequent a number of basketball-centric websites. Naturally he beats me almost every year.
I've given a lot of thought to how to fill out my SECT bracket over the years, trying to find that right combination of decision rules that will create the perfect bracket. If you're trying to decide whether South Carolina or Mississippi St is less awful (hint: only one of these schools stole it's initials from a better known school) then consider the following methods of filling out your bracket:
1. By Seed: aka The Boringtons' Bracket* (seed in parentheses)
You can always go the default route and choose based on seed. It's safe, but not very interesting or creative. Why even go to the trouble of filling one out?
*5 GOG points to whomever can identify the Boringtons reference first.
2. By KenPomeroy Rank: aka the Analytic Boringtons' Bracket (KenPom Rank in parentheses)
If you're feeling hip and mathematical you can choose your winners based on where they are ranked in Ken Pomeroy's computer rankings. This is the basis for the Log 5 calculations. A little more sophisticated than going by seed, but by itself still kind of dull - everyone knows about Ken Pom at this point.
3. By Head to Head results aka Let the Court Decide Bracket (record in parentheses next to losers, overall point differential by winners)
Ah! Now we're talking! Unlike the NCAAT, everyone in this bracket has played each other at least once. What could be more natural than using the actual results of previous games to inform your picks? Of course, you have to break ties for teams that split the season matchup 1-1. I decided to use overall margin of victory differential for the two games, but you could use something else.
4. Google Fight: aka the Nerd Fight Bracket
Why limit yourself to basketball reasons? Using the magic of Google Fight you can decide your winners based on their web presence! I compared each team using the phrase "< School > < Mascot > Basketball" (but without the quotes) to pick each winner. Incredibly yes: Alabama Crimson Tide Basketball has more web hits - almost 3x as many - as Kentucky Wildcat Basketball. Who knew?
5. Mascots: aka the Cliche Bracket
When picking a bracket, nothing is more cliche than deciding based on mascots. Here I've picked the most dangerous mascot based on some general rules:
- bigger animal > smaller animal
- human > animal (because man is the most dangerous prey of all)
- shipboard human > land based human
- aquatic related event > shipboard human