March Madness is here at last! The brackets were unveiled yesterday and as soon as the match-ups were announced, fans across America began scrambling to fill out their brackets. Fortunately for those of you who aren’t quite sure how to make your 2012 picks, I’m here to provide tips to help you gain an edge in your office pool.
Let’s face it, picking the Final Four is pretty random. Last year, out of the 5.9 million brackets filled out last year on ESPN.com, only TWO brackets had the correct Final Four. So, it’s safe to assume that picking all No. 1 or No. 2 isn’t going to get you that perfect bracket you desire. Maybe StubHub can help make sense of March Madness. This morning, I dove deep into StubHub’s wealth of ticketing data to pull some interesting facts about this year’s crop of schools to see if we can figure out who could be left standing at the Final Four in New Orleans. This is the first of three installments as I provide a guide to alternative theories of bracketology.
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Since we’ve established that it’s fairly hard to accurately predict the Final Four, I wanted to see if we could use StubHub ticketing statistics to make a more accurate prediction. One of the ways I approached this is by looking at ticket statistics from 2011’s Final Four teams and finding comparisons to teams in this year’s field. We took the number of tickets sold on StubHub throughout the entire season and tried to find four teams that roughly featured the same profile as the teams from 2011. We crunched the numbers of tickets sold per school and found our list of 2012 Final Four teams.
In 2011, we had two established powers in Kentucky and Connecticut, mixed with two mid-major schools in VCU and Butler. You can see the vast gap between schools. Butler was aided from the fact that 2010 was their first Final Four run. If not, their ticket sales in 2011 would’ve been considerably lower.
2011 Final Four – Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
East: Kentucky – 8200+ tickets sold in 2010-11
West: Connecticut – 7000+ tickets sold in 2010-11
Southwest: VCU – Less than 100 tickets sold in 2010-11
Southeast: Butler – 650+ tickets sold in 2010-11
We then looked at the different regions in the 2012 bracket and found four comparisons that would create a Final Four with regular season team ticket sales similar to the 2011 teams. Here’s our Final Four predictions based on our ticketing data:
2012 Final Four Prediction – Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
East: #11 Texas — 8000+ tickets sold in 2011-12
West: #4 Louisville – 7000+ tickets sold in 2011-12
South: #5 Wichita State – Less than 100 tickets sold in 2011-12
Midwest: #7 St. Mary’s – 650+ tickets sold in 2011-12
These predictions have nothing to do with match-ups or seeding, just ticket sales that match the respective region’s Final Four team from last year. I don’t think anyone would choose these four schools on their own, but then again, no one chose Kentucky, Connecticut, VCU and Butler in 2011.