Grading the NIT Bracketologists

It’s almost time to start NIT Bracketology up again. My first bracket of the season will be coming up after the New Year, but first I wanted to look back at where we came from and if there were any lessons learned.

I scored the three biggest NIT Bracketology sites I could find using the Paymon Score, which The Bracket Project uses to grade fellow NCAA bracketologists. You can read more about it on their site. While you’re there, check out how certain NCAA prognosticators do. While Paymon does think that you should only receive points for correctly predicting at-large bids it appears The Bracket Project scores using all 68 teams. In the case of the NIT this seems especially necessary, because there’s a revolving number of at-large and automatic bids depending on what happens in conference tournaments.

The three brackets I scored using this method (3 points for a correct team, 2 additional points for correctly seeding and 1 additional point for being within one seed line) were NIT-ology, The Bracket Project and my own. All of the brackets used were the announced “final” versions, though because many of these came out before the NCAA Tournament field was announced if a bracket had “Iona” in what would become “Seton Hall” that was allowed. Most NCAA Tournament Bracketologists update their bracket seconds before the field comes out. If you did that in the NIT’s case you would’ve nailed these anyways.

A perfect score is 192 points (96+64+32). No one came close to it – here’s what it would’ve looked like. Here were the scores using final brackets:

  1. Big Apple Buckets – 133 points
  2. NIT-ology – 121 points
  3. Bracket Matrix – 118 points

Two teams the committee selected proved to be way out of bounds in terms of what was projected. Both Cleveland St. and La Salle weren’t on anyone’s bracket, but put into the NIT by the committee. The other two common misses were Iowa and Illinois St. That’s basically where my advantage in the scoring comes from. I had both the Hawkeyes and Redbirds in the bracket last season.

In terms of seeding:

  1. Big Apple Buckets – 11 seeded correctly, 21 within one line
  2. NIT-ology – 8 seeded correctly, 21 within one line
  3. Bracket Matrix – 7 seeded correctly, 20 within one line

Realistically, none of did very well here. It’s relatively easy to get the eight seeds correct (though I botched a few). The automatic bids put a few teams with far inferior resumes into the field. More to the point, I really botched some of the other high seeds. I swung and  missed big on seeding Washington (got a 1 seed, which was ridiculous, and I had them as a 6) and Marshall (got a 5 seed, when I had them as a 1). Stanford and Dayton were NIT-ology’s biggest misses (4 seeds each), while The Bracket Project didn’t miss anything terribly when it actually got the right teams in the bracket.

It’s definitely important to keep those under-the-radar mid-majors in mind come Selection Sunday, because it appears the committee will as well. I’ll have an initial NIT bracket out early next week.

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