# The Ultimate 2012 NCAA March Madness cheat sheet

The field of sixty-eight has been announced, and by now you’re scrambling to find whatever resources you can to get a leg up on your co-workers so you can finally win this year’s pool. Especially because last year the boss let his daughter in the pool free of charge and (un)miraculously, she took home your money. Well I hate to burst your bubble as much as the committee hates disappointing thousands of fans of slightly-above-average teams every year (so maybe I take some enjoyment in it?), but there is no trick. There is no secret. There is no set of numbers, or complex calculations, or historical phenomena, or matchup evaluation, or anything else that will have enough predictive power to really make a difference in your picks. And the reason for that is a simple one: sample size. If you haven’t noticed, the NBA uses the seven game series to determine its champion. This is because, in a single game, virtually anything can happen. The probability that the better team will prevail goes way down. Of course, this doesn’t mean that my intramural team could beat the Heat if we got 10,000 tries. But one college basketball team can generally beat another college basketball team once despite the other team’s superiority, matchup advantage, or whatever other advantage you think it might have.

Still, it’s fun to try to predict what might happen. And it’s nice to have some basis for your choices rather than your flawed intuition, which you probably like to think of as your sixth sense or slight psychic ability, because, let’s be honest here, you’re special. So since you’re here, and you’re rational enough to recognize sarcasm, I’ve put together a nice little assortment of numbers to help you.

Each team is rated first by its Half Baked Win Score, then by its Adjusted Net Rating. After that I break the Half Baked Win Score down by the Relative Win Scores of each team’s 6 primary players.

The Half Baked Notion was introduced by Arturo Galletti almost two years ago. It essentially says that, while depth matters to some extent in the NBA regular season, the starting lineup plus the first guy off the bench account for 99% of a team’s production in the playoffs. We haven’t specifically studied the college game to see if the notion remains, but it seems reasonable to assume it does.

Win Score is a snapshot of a player’s contribution to his team. It is not as accurate as Wins Produced, but is very consistent with it, and explains 98% of WP variation.

Relative Win Score is Win Score adjusted for each player’s position. Here, each player is compared to the average player at his position across the entire NCAA. In addition, all the numbers are adjusted for pace and strength of schedule. The average player has a Relative Win Score of 3.1

Half Baked Win Score is the sum of the Relative Win Scores of the team’s starting five and first player off the bench. The average team would be 18.6.

Adjusted Net Rating is a team’s point differential per 100 possessions, adjusted for strength of schedule. The average team’s Adjusted Net Rating is 0.

Because it’s impossible to follow and watch 344 teams, there are bound to be some mistakes in this data. I probably got a few positions wrong, and I may be listing a player that is injured or won’t play for some reason or another. If you catch this kind of mistake, tweet me at @shut_up_and_jam and let me know. If you’re correcting a player’s position, please tell me who should be at that player’s listed position instead. Rather than try to predict anything, I’m just gonna provide the numbers, and let you do what you want with them. Maybe you like teams with good guards. Maybe you need a great center to win it. Maybe teams with one superstar can’t beat balanced teams. You decide. So without further ado, here we go:

Have fun!

-James