Amelia Rayno's Basketball Insider: A pool full of pickers

  • Updated: February 24, 2012 - 10:33 PM

NCAA handicappers Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm set the bar, but many others also spread the gospel of the seasonal and highly scrutinized field of bracketology.

hide

Ralph Sampson III

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Jerry Palm remembers when the all the people interested in Rating Percentage Index and NCAA brackets could "fit comfortably in a minivan," as he likes to joke.

That was before the basketball world was swept up by this statistical storm, which is brewing stronger these days.

"People just hunger for this information," said Palm, one of the earliest examples of a "bracketologist," now a well-known term. "My Twitter feed blows up this time of year."

Perhaps that's because the general public is starting to catch on. The NCAA has worked harder to publicize the method it uses to select the 68 teams for the men's basketball tournament -- a process many have perceived as a complicated one. They've opened a yearly mock draft to the media to help spread awareness, which has, as a byproduct, spread interest as well.

But when Palm first started calculating and updating strengths and weaknesses of teams and projecting that into bracket form, he said he and ESPN's Joe Lunardi were the only ones doing it. "Now I think there's like 80 people -- anybody with a computer and too much time on their hands is doing it," he said.

It has become such a fad that a burgeoning number of basketball fans is growing more dissatisfied with the modest tools -- mainly RPI, the formula the selection committee uses to weigh teams against each other. Palm, who works for CBSSports.com, had Minnesota at No. 76 as of Friday, with an RPI of 0.5612, a tumble from a couple of weeks ago when the Gophers were projected to make the NCAA field. Syracuse is No. 1, followed by Michigan State.

Palm said the two most common complaints he hears are opposites. Ether people are annoyed that a formula of any type is being used to help pick teams for the tournament, or they want something that takes into account more than the three components that determine RPI: team record, opponents' record and the record of their opponents' opponents.

But Palm says those pleas are both off base because the selection process needs some structure -- and just as important, the simplicity of that structure is key. Despite some flaws -- for example, RPI weighs home and road games too distinctly, Palm said, and it completely ignores any games played outside of Division I -- Palm thinks the original system is still probably the best one.

"They don't really need anything more sophisticated than that, and I don't really think anybody wants a computer making the decision," he said. "And the more sophisticated of a computer ranking system you use, the more people will expect you to use that to make the decisions. I think it's good enough for how it's being used. Because they want to measure how teams do against good competition. And you look at the top 50 RPI teams and the top 50 Sagarin [rankings] teams and the top 50 whatever ranking system you want to look at, you're going to see roughly the same 50 teams."

  • related content

  • Amelia Rayno's Big Ten power poll: Feb. 25

    Friday February 24, 2012

    1. Michigan State (12-3): Sparty's six-game win streak ties the longest in the league and they're going strong.2. Michigan (11-4):...

  • Amelia Rayno's Short Takes: Feb. 25

    Friday February 24, 2012

    When William Buford is on, he's on. And when he's not, he's something of a liability. In Ohio State's past four games, Buford has scored 17 points, six points, 24...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your favorite Gophers football uniform colors?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close