Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Simple Prediction Equation for the NCAA Women's Tourney

Two years ago, I created a very simple prediction equation for the NCAA women's tournament. Each team gets its own value on the predictive measure. To calculate it, you take a team's overall hitting percentage at the end of the regular season and divide it by the hitting percentage the team allowed its opponents (in the aggregate). The result is then multiplied by an adjustment factor for conference strength, as shown here. For any match in the NCAA tourney, the team with the higher value on my measure would be expected to win.

In both 2012 and 2011, my formula did about as well as other, more complicated ranking formulas. I'm not going to do a full-scale analysis for this year's bracket, but I wanted to mention the formula and provide some sample calculations, in case anyone wanted to compute a score this week for his or her favorite team. The necessary information should be available from the volleyball page of a given school's athletics website. Here are 2013 values for my equation for this year's top eight seeded teams...

1. Texas........... (.295/.174) (1.20) = 2.03
2. Penn State.... (.312/.134) (1.25) = 2.91
3. Washington... (.282/.192) (1.25) = 1.84
4. Missouri........ (.362/.170) (1.00) = 2.13
5. Florida...........(.331/.166) (1.00) = 1.99
6. USC............. (.281/.178) (1.25) = 1.97
7. Stanford........ (.313/.170) (1.25) = 2.30
8. Nebraska...... (.271/.185) (1.25) = 1.83

The median value on my measure (i.e., the value that half the teams score above and half the teams score below) tends to be around 1.40. Most teams making the Final Four in the previous two years have scored above 1.80 on my measure, so that is a benchmark for gauging a team's chances this year of making the Final Four. Last year, NCAA champion Texas had a value of 2.19, runner-up Oregon was at 1.82, and semifinal losers Michigan and Penn State had values of 1.47 and 2.85, respectively. In 2011, national champion UCLA clocked in at 1.94, runner-up Illinois scored 1.81, and semifinal losers Florida State and USC had values of 1.47 and 2.04, respectively. So there is hope for teams scoring just above the median!

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