Team seeding only works in first three rounds of basketball tournament

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Washington, Mar 16 (ANI): In basketball, picking the higher-seeded team to beat a lower-seeded opponent usually works only in the first three rounds of the tournament, according to a University of Illinois expert in statistics and data analysis.

Once the tournament enters the Elite Eight round, a team's seed in the tournament is irrelevant.

Sheldon H. Jacobson said that after the Sweet Sixteen round of play, ignore a team's seeding, which is a statistically insignificant predictor of a team's chances of winning.

"In the Sweet Sixteen round, the rankings still hold - but just barely. From the Elite Eight round and onward, you might as well pick names out of a hat," said Jacobson.

He added that the impetus of the study was to see if a team's seeding was a good predictor of how far the team ultimately would go in the Big Dance.

"You would expect once you get deeper in the tournament that the higher seeds would continue to dominate. But after the Sweet Sixteen, top seeds stop dominating. For just about any team they play, no matter what their initial seeding was, the odds of either team winning is reduced to a coin flip," said Jacobson.

He said that tournament seedings, which are determined by a ten-member committee of NCAA basketball athletic directors and conference commissioners from across the country, are an easy, convenient predictor for people with little knowledge of the current college basketball scene, but are ultimately ineffective in predicting the final three rounds of the six-round tournament.

"People often overvalue seedings. The best advice is, pay attention to them early in the tournament, but as the tournament gets going, remember that their usefulness as a predictive measure fades," he said.

"By the Elite Eight, you have to study the more qualitative aspects of a team. You have to pay attention to intangibles such as match-ups, injuries, how close they are to their home and how many home fans are going to be there. Those factors make more of a difference than seeding," he added.

The study has been published in the Journal of Gambling Business and Economics. (ANI)

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