Research & Insights

By Justin Tenuto, March 19, 2015

This is What Happens When You Let the Crowd Pick Your March Madness Bracket

Each year, millions of Americans fill out March Madness brackets. Some are college basketball junkies, the guys who can tell you how a box-and-1 zone works, who argue over NIT seeding, who may or may not have come down with a mysterious illness today and just had to stay home from work. Then there’s the rest of us who kinda remember Duke is good most of the time I guess.

If you’ve ever been in an office pool though, you know that first dude never wins. It’s never the guy who can tell you which state Xavier is actually in* that takes home the money, it’s Todd from accounting. You know, the guy who picked his bracket in 45 seconds and forgot to pay the entrance fee.

wil_2In other words, we’re not convinced the whole thing is anything other than an exercise in barely-informed coin flipping. So my colleague Wil, a gentleman who’s deep and abiding knowledge of basketball can be gleaned from the picture to your right, decided to run the NCAA bracket through our platform and let our contributors pick his winners. He kept it confined to 145 contributors from the United States and entered the thing in our office pool. He figured this gave him a better chance then randomly clicking on schools he didn’t know. He’s probably right and we’re all frankly a little terrified of losing to him.

So move over, Nate Silver. Stand back, President Obama. Let’s see if you can beat a crowd of random Americans.


A couple things jump out at us here. One? The crowd is really safe. Not a ton of upsets here. Which makes sense, when you remember we’re averaging the picks from 145 people. Sure, there’s probably a Hampton alum in the bunch who’s sure they were going to beat Kentucky, but there are 144 others who made their picks when they were sober.

The other? The crowd likes big names and historical programs. In a bracket that went mostly chalk, the upsets were teams like Indiana and UCLA, not Wofford or Albany.

We’ll let you know how the crowd does as the tournament goes on. But if you happen to see Wil out in the streets of San Francisco, gleefully making it rain, you’ll at least know why.

*Public service announcement: Xavier’s in Cincinnati. I look that up every year and then promptly forget it.