Joe Lunardi is the kid who totally looks off other people’s work in class, then waits until right before the bell to turn in his homework. The only difference is you don’t get people praising you for going 67 of 68 afterward. This is like going 67 for 68 on a test, if that test literally had 31 answers written in the margins of the questions for you, had another 28 answers that were the equivalent of giving a simple addition test to a high school student, 6 more that you were probably going to nail if you had paid attention at all in class to how the teacher taught, and then like 3 questions that were complete toss-ups.
Here’s the thing, people. No one goes 50 for 68 on this “bracket exam”. I could teach my 5 year old to go 63 of 68. Anyone that put any effort into it at all got at least 64 right, with the only question being how you did against those final three toss up questions. Joe Lunardi went 2 for 3. Congratulations. I did too. I don’t even have a degree in Bracketology, nor did I flip flop my selections dramatically between teams that were finished playing.
That’s right, on Saturday night, Lunardi had Mississippi State in his field, and in ahead of North Carolina State and Seton Hall. Mississippi State had lost on Thursday, the same day as South Florida. Seton Hall on Wednesday. Drexel on Monday, Iona on Sunday. NC State was about the only “bubble team” in action on Saturday and they lost, and the only issue was going to be whether the number of spots shrank.
Apparently, though, Drexel, Mississippi State, NC State, and Seton Hall played a quick closed-gym tournament for Lunardi that night. I can tell you (even though the links get updated and prior versions don’t stay in the archives) that Lunardi, who was literally the only “bracketologist” I saw that had Mississippi State still in as late as two days after their loss and the eve before selection, switched and had Drexel in on Sunday afternoon, and Mississippi State out. I know because I went to the site to create the chart for this post. Palm may have had Northwestern in when no one else did, but I applaud him for sticking to what he had when nothing changed to affect his view (other than looking around).
Now, I went back to update that post 30 minutes after St. Bonaventure earned an automatic bid, knocking the last at-large spot. Most people moved NC State out. I marked Lunardi down for that, and it may very well have been human error on my part, though that’s what I thought I saw in the “First Four Out” box when I checked for an update after the game. Anyway, they are now trumpeting that Lunardi went 67 for 68, only missing Seton Hall versus Iona.
You know who else went 67 for 68 in his final bracket, without even checking or caring what others said to see if there were any outliers, this guy. (He hung strong to believing Iona was getting in to a First Four game despite everyone else having them just out).
He also went 67 for 68 while accidentally omitting Colorado State when transcribing the chart, which led to leaving both South Florida and Drexel in (one of those would have been the one off my line). Ah well, story of my life. Of course, was it that big of an accomplishment? Probably ranks in the top 6,379 things for me in my life. I went 2 for 3. So did Joe Lunardi. I got lucky and guessed right on mostly 3 key questions–
1) Did NC State do enough for the committee?
2) Seton Hall, South Florida, neither or both?
3) What to make of Iona and Drexel compared to say, Marshall?
There were 3 spots open there, and maybe 5-7 candidates. St. Bonaventure made it 3, because otherwise Lunardi and I would have gone 2 for 4 (the committee said Oral Roberts was first out).
It’s not going 67 for 68. You’ve been spotted 65. I also did better than Lunardi at projecting seeding in the top half of the bracket, where I got 21 seeded correctly among my top 8 seeds, and 30 of the 32 within 1 seed line (and will go to my grave saying the committee whiffed on Memphis). Lunardi went 18 correct, and 29 total. ESPN rolls out these fancy brackets that have zero chance of being absolutely right, and on the day of the Selection, Lunardi got zero of the #1 seed and #2 seed pairing combinations right. I would think that would be the stuff most people would care about.
Here’s the thing about this bracketology. We better not let people know how easy it is. People like to deride Mel Kiper, but I can absolutely tell you that I cannot duplicate what he and guys like Mayock and other draft guys do. I can read what they say, decide if I agree with it, but I’m not at pro days. I can teach you to do bracketology if you have a modicum of ability with a spread sheet. Give me access to RPI rankings I can pull up in 5 seconds and a site with team schedules and results I can load in. All I did, without ever taking a course in bracketology, is whip up a formula using RPI and then a performance formula like I talked about here , looking at results based on Pomeroy rankings that still required wins and losses, but which might approximate how the committee might view wins (they surely didn’t think a win over Southern Miss was a top 20 win, right?).
So, yes, you too can be a bracketologist from home as long as you have a laptop and a pair of comfy sweats. Who knows, maybe you can go 2 for 3 too. And if you go 1 for 3, don’t worry, bellow out that you went 66 for 68, and know that there’s always next year.
[photo via Getty]