Madness in March: Sports Analytics Club’s bracket competition

Sports Analytics Club conducts its first March Madness competition at MVHS

Anish Vasudevan

60 million brackets. $10 billion dollars of bets.

Every year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association conducts the March Madness tournament with the 64 best college basketball teams in the nation. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of creating what is known as a “perfect bracket”, where the winner of every single game in the tournament is predicted correctly.  

With the enormous national craze over the event, the Sports Analytics Club (SAC) at MVHS decided to join the fandom, making a competition for students to join. Officers of the club could participate, but the non-officer with the highest percentage of accurately predicted wins received an NBA jersey. Junior Chirag Mehta, who placed first out of the non-officers, believes the rising popularity of participation in the event is because of the simplicity in creating brackets.

“People make brackets because a lot of people are connected to their colleges and something that everyone can relate to,” Mehta said. “Even if someone doesn’t know anything about basketball they can make a bracket based on the colleges they went to or the rivalries they know about.”

This year, Mehta took part in multiple competitions, bringing in numerous prizes from his successes like a Jamba Juice gift card, $30 dollars and a jersey from the SAC tournament. Mehta explains that his strategy for picking winners was based on little knowledge of the game.

“I generally [know] who the basketball schools are and I looked at the rankings and randomly put in some upsets,” Mehta said. “There’s not a lot of logic that goes into it. Seeding doesn’t matter too much but generally if a team is a first or second seed they will typically go farther in the tournament, but it’s March Madness so anything can happen.”

SAC treasurer and junior Jeremy Wu, the winner of the SAC competition, agrees with Mehta explaining that there is a random aspect to the tournament. Wu, who is also a part of the MVHS varsity tennis team, explains his recipe for success was picking winners related to one of his hobbies.

“I chose [teams] from the Atlantic Coast Conference to win most of the games because that conference very good basketball teams,” Wu said. “I had preference for University of Virginia because they are a really good tennis school and I am really into college tennis.”

Out of the 14 students that participated in the SAC competition, Wu was the only one that had Virginia winning the championship. For future tournaments, Wu explains that the best way to pick a bracket is randomly, since the seeding doesn’t always matter.

“Don’t go for favorites,” Wu said. “Duke lost this year and UVA lost in the first round last year even though they were a one-seeded team. It’s always the upsets that win in the early stages and mess up everybody’s brackets. Purdue beat Tennessee, anything is possible.”