Matt Doolin Wins SSRI March Madness Bracket Challenge
SSRI: Congratulations Matt! You won the March Madness SSRI Bracket Challenge. Most of SSRI picked either Duke or UNC to win so you definitely stood out with your pick of UVA to win it all. What led you to your decision?
Matt Doolin: I’m a big college basketball fan so excited to win. My family has filled out brackets and had our own competition since I was six. The tournament comes down to luck most of the time so I do a bunch of research and watch games all year and most of the time it doesn’t even matter.
SSRI: Do you play it safe and pick your favorites?
Matt: I tend to play it safe and pick the favorites. A number one seed usually wins the whole thing so picking one of them is the way to go. Also, since most people pick the favorites to go far, if you pick them to get upset and they don’t, you lose a lot of potential points down the road. The safe bet is to pick number one and two seeds to get upset in the sweet sixteen or later. I go with a few upsets where I think teams are overrated but never anything higher than a 12 vs. a 5.
SSRI: Do you trust championship pedigrees?
Matt: Usually I do. Outside of this season, the final winner has been a repeat champion going back many years (at least the last 10) so that’s usually safe. This year, I went with Gonzaga vs. Virginia in the final game thinking that one of them would win after years of being a number one seed and dominating in the regular season. Part of the reason I picked Virginia was because I thought they would be motivated from last year’s UMBC debacle.
SSRI: Do stats matter to you?
Matt: Stats definitely matter to me. A few years ago I put together my own modeling system to predict the tournament. It did fine but not much better than ones that already existed and was a bit of work, so I’ve just used existing ones to guess at a few upsets. The fivethirtyeight.com predictions are pretty good and they go in to detail about how they make their models too.
SSRI: Do you follow a celebrity or expert bracket?
Matt: I listened to a few podcasts and watched some ESPN but didn’t really follow any one person.
SSRI: Do you pick based on colors, logos, etc.?
Matt: Definitely not, although I do look each team up and see what their mascots are because some of them are really fun and different (like learning what a billiken is).
SSRI: Do you have a favorite team?
Matt: Growing up in Kentucky you’re forced into college basketball at a young age and have to choose UK or Louisville and I’m a lifelong UK fan (Go CATS!).
SSRI: Are you follower of KenPom?
Matt: I do follow KenPom (and Sagarin) and pick a winner each year that is top 10 in both of his adjusted offense and adjusted defense ratings. Barring some crazy run from a low seed, like 2014 UConn, the winner is always in the top of these ratings so that’s the best bet.