What's important about the NCAA tournament isn't who wins the championship. What's important about the tournament is who wins your bracket. What's important is who gets humiliated by their embarrassing picks. For too long, celebrities and reporters have been immune to that humiliation. No longer.
Presenting, for the first time, The 2013 Atlantic Wire Bracket of Celebrity/Pundit Bracket Predictions (trademark, all rights reserved). We scoured the web for all of the journalist and celebrity brackets we could find, winnowed the group down to 32 contenders, seeded them by way of Nate Silver, and will spend March Madness (trademark, all rights reserved) seeing how their picks stack up against one another. Are President Obama's picks better than Dick Vitale's? We shall see.
Before we get into the bracket itself, we figured we'd take a peek inside the celebrity/sports journalist brain and share some of the patterns we noticed in the picks.
• Celebrities are more likely to pick teams they've heard of. North Carolina and Duke and Notre Dame and Georgetown all did better with celebrities than with the experts (such as they are). Which is fair enough; if you asked a random person on the street who would win a basketball game between North Carolina and Bucknell, no one is going to pick Bucknell. (Sorry, Bucknell.)
• Everyone picked all the 1 and 2 seeds to win the first round. Which is a good bet.
• There was a lot of consensus in some regions and huge disagreement in others. We created this graphic to depict the team that was selected by a plurality of our experts. The bigger the team name, the more people picked that team to win.
If you look at the South region (upper right) you can see that all of the team names after the first round are pretty big — lots of consensus among our competitors. But the East region, at lower right? Lots of dispute, including one of the two even splits — sixteen people picked Illinois; sixteen, Colorado.
As the rounds continue, fewer and fewer people picked the plurality winner. In the East, Indiana was the most common pick to go to the Final Four, but lots of other teams received votes. Louisville was by far the most popular pick to advance in each round. And you'll notice a surprise: More people picked Ohio State to go to the Final Four in the West region than any other team.
Two other points of data. Of the 32 brackets, only eight shared the same Final Four. Louisville was the runaway pick to win it all. The other teams to get votes: Indiana (3), Georgetown (2), Kansas (2), Miami (2), Duke (1), Ohio St (1),
And, so, without further ado:
The 2013 Atlantic Wire Bracket of Celebrity/Pundit Bracket Predictions
We needed to catalog our selected pundits/celebrities in two ways: by seed and by region.
Seed, for those unfamiliar, refers to how well a competitor is expected to do against competition. For this, we compared submitted brackets to the one done by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, figuring it to be as close to scientific as we could get. We ran the numbers, discovering that the brackets matched anywhere from 57 of Silver's 63 picks to a modest 34.
For the regions, we got more creative. Celebrities and web journalists were mashed together. CBS Sports, home of the NCAA tournament (trademark, etc.), apparently forced all of its employees to do brackets, which was helpful. Then there were athletes, who got merged with the ESPN crew. And, finally, everyone else — almost all of whom were reporters.
Links below go to the person's bracket.
Celebrity / Web Region
- Barack Obama, President
- Garry Parrish, College Basketball Insider
- Joe Mantegna, Criminal Minds
- Chris Dobbertean, SBNation
- Jerry Palm, College Basketball Blogger
- Matt Norlander, College Basketball Blogger
- Wale, Musician
- Kid President, YouTube star
- Mike Lopresti, USA Today
- Nicole Auerbach, USA Today
- Luke Winn, Sports Illustrated
- Kelli Anderson, Sports Illustrated
- Eddie Timanus, USA Today
- Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated
- Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated
- Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated
Athletes / ESPN Region
- Jay Bilas, ESPN
- Dick Vitale, ESPN
- Joe Lunardi, ESPN
- Jeff Goodman, College Basketball Insider
- Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
- Bill Cowher, Former NFL coach
- Jack Jones, Betfirms
- Kroy Biermann, Atlanta Falcons
Team CBS Region
- Mateen Cleaves, Studio Analyst
- Norah O'Donnell, CBS This Morning
- Aisha Tyler, The Talk
- Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports
- Sharon Osbourne, The Talk
- Charlie Rose, CBS This Morning
- Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports
- Scott Gleeson, USA Today
Over the next few days, we will compare the competitors round-by-round. Each round 1 answer they get correct will yield one point. Each round 2 answer, two points. Scores for each round will be cumulative, so a bad round 1 score could hurt later on. And finally, when we can, we'll declare a winner. Maybe even send along a trophy, who knows.
Want to print out a bunch of brackets and bet real money with your coworkers? Go ahead! Here's a version of the bracket you can download and print and gamble on illegally, if you want.
By the way, if you're wondering which of our celebrity / experts came the closest to matching Nate Silver's bracket, getting 57 of the 63 picks the same, the answer is, of course, President Obama. We'd have expected nothing less.