The Math Association of America writes up Tim’s Chartier’s distinguished lecture on bracketology.
Improbable as it sounds, Tim Chartier can leverage math to foretell such outcomes, to “predict how 18- to 22-year-old young men will perform in high-pressure situations.” The basis of Chartier’s mathemagic is the Colley Method, named for its developer, Wesley Colley.
Math and mathematicians, in other words, work in mysterious ways.
Chartier dispelled the mystery a little, though, by describing how to derive from team statistics—number of wins, total games played—values that, slotted into a massive 350 by 350 matrix, represent a system of equations that can be solved to yield team ratings. To make a bracket based on these ratings, you just assume that the higher rated team always wins.
You can, of course, “usurp the math and make your own decisions,” Chartier said, but consider the Colley Method’s none-too-shabby track record: When Chartier entered a Colley-generated bracket in the 2009 ESPN Challenge, it beat 62 percent of the more than 4 million entrants. In 2010 Colley outperformed everyone from LeBron James and Davidson alum Stephen Curry to Dick Vitale and Barack Obama.