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WSJ.com/NumbersGuy March Madness contest

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I asked college-hoops number crunchers (bolded) to submit their brackets, then compared them to predictions from sportswriters, politicians and basic algorithms such as choosing the best seed or the best record in each game. Below they're ranked by accuracy; the bracket with the fewest points lost so far is the most accurate. One point is deducted for a first-round misfire, two for a second-round miss, four for an Elite Eight team missed, eight for an incorrect Final Four team, 16 for an eliminated finalist, and 32 for an eliminated champ. -- Carl Bialik (see related blog post at http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/number-crunchers-vs-experts-vs-the-masses-306/)

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pickersourcetype1st round wrong2nd round wrongElite 8 wrongFinal 4 wrongFinal 2 elim.Champ elim.champtotal points lost

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Ken Pomeroy (1)http://www.kenpom.com/rate.phpalgorithm642000Kansas22

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TeamRankings official (2)private emailalgorithm1033000Kansas28

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best seeds/record tiebreak (9)http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/23487117/algorithm853000Memphis30

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SportsLine usershttp://splnexperts.mayhem.sportsline.com/print/brackets/printable-bracket/1/6/1/crowd663000NC30

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Sagarin rating (3)private emailalgorithm953000NC31

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Sagarin Elo (3)private emailalgorithm953000NC31

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AccuScore core (4)private emailalgorithm1053000UCLA32

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ESPN usershttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/whopickedwhomcrowd963000NC33

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Jay Bilashttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/entry?entryID=2262515expert1151100Kansas33

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Andy Glocknerhttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/entry?entryID=1177expert971100UCLA35

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Coke Zero (5)private emailalgorithm1052100NC36

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David Gellerprivate email (from Yahoo Sports' director of fantasy gamesexpert853100NC38

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TeamRankings momentum (1)private emailalgorithm1043100Kansas38

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Reggie Rankinhttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/entry?entryID=623107expert1062100UCLA38

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Brad Evanshttp://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/78254expert1051200Kansas40

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best recordshttp://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/23487117/algorithm1283000Memphis40

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Joe Lunardihttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/entry?entryID=1078940expert963100UCLA41

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RealTimeRPI.com (6)private emailalgorithm854100UCLA42

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AccuScore override (4)private emailalgorithm973100UCLA43

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Jason Kinghttp://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/76736expert1073100Kansas44

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Fran Fraschillahttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/entry?entryID=740600expert853200Kansas46

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Bracket Science (7)private emailalgorithm872200UCLA46

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Mike Hugueninhttp://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/76544expert1082200UCLA50

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Dick Vitalehttp://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/entry?entryID=2370921expert1272200NC50

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Barack Obamahttp://www.abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/Obama%20Bracket.JPGpolitician1065100NC50

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George Allenhttp://www.georgeallen.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/allen-brackets.JPGpolitician853110NC54

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Sagarin predictor (3)private emailalgorithm663110Kansas54

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Russell Adamshttp://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/retro-NCAABrackets0803.htmlalgorithm994200UCLA59

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John McCainhttp://www.johnmccain.com/brackets/View.aspx?view=johnmccainpolitician984110NC65

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Dan Shanoffhttp://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/retro-NCAABrackets0803.htmlexpert1353310UCLA75

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Dan Wetzelhttp://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/76696expert1175210UCLA77

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Bill Simmonshttp://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/080319expert1266310UCLA88

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Greg Anthonyhttp://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/74068expert1195310UCLA89

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Inside Higher Ed (8)http://www.insidehighered.com/layout/set/print/news/2008/03/17/bracketalgorithm15106321Davidson147

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Footnote 1: Mr. Pomeroy declined to participate, so I accessed his ratings the morning of the tournament's start and applied them to the bracket.

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Footnote 2: TeamRankings based its official bracket on its core algorithm, while adding some competitive strategy for a pool of fewer than 100 players, such as this one. Its momentum bracket placed a high importance on teams' momentum coming into the tournament.

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Footnote 3: Jeff Sagarin submitted picks based on his three ratings schemes, which are also published on USA Today's website: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin.htm

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Footnote 4: AccuScore, which runs simulations of games, submitted one bracket with the winners of simulations of each game, and went upset-hunting for another bracket, where teams with the least probability of winning a game for its seed number -- even if that chance was greater than 50% -- were picked to lose.

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Footnote 5: Coke Zero offered a bracket-picking tool that chose games based on how much emphasis you wanted to place on various categories, including serious ones such as offensive power and a less-serious one -- the wildness of the school's mascot. Mike Gerstein used the tool to fill out a bracket that emphasized star power and offensive prowess, and didn't use the mascot category.

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Footnote 6: RealTimeRPI used a prediction formula, taking into account home-court advantage for NCAA teams playing close to their home floor.

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Footnote 7: Bracket Science's Pete Tiernan mixed his gut instinct in with the numbers.

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Footnote 8: It's no great surprise that Inside Higher Ed's bracket fell short; it was based on teams' academic performance. The Web site's article about its bracket was headlined, "A Bracket Not to Bet On."

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