In a delightful little article at the Wall Street Journal, reporter Rachel Bachman models the Lewis Carroll method of bracketology with some surprising and not-so-surprising results.
In addition to writing “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll was a mathematician who was offended by blind draws in tennis tournaments. So Carroll devised a method to ensure that the most skilled players would survive to the latest rounds.
So in the spirit of adventure, The Wall Street Journal put Carroll’s radical format to the ultimate test: this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. If we assigned the 64-team field randomly, then played out the tournament based on the NCAA selection committee’s overall ranking for each team, what would happen? Would the teams that got unlucky draws or suffered early upsets still make it through to the late rounds? And would there be enough surprises to keep people entertained?
It turns out that Carroll’s method yields 119 games in 11 rounds vs 67 games in 7 rounds in the real tourney, and results in a Sweet Six instead of the Sweet Sixteen. But even in this alternate reality, the Kentucky Wildcats are predicted to win it all.
For the background on the model, read this earlier article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304636404577297821444746352.html
Check out the updates on our own March Mathness ESPN Group here: http://blog.press.princeton.edu/march-mathness/