ESPN had 18.8 million entries in their bracket challenge for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. There were also several other bracket contests going, too. Below are a couple of fun bracket-related questions for students learning about statistics:
(1) Perfect Brackets after the first round:
The ESPN contest went from 18.8 million entries to 164 perfect brackets at the end of the first round of games:
So . . .
(i) If you were running a contest that had 100,000 entries instead of 18.8 million, how many perfect brackets would you expect to have in your contest?
(ii) What do you think the probability of having 0 in your contest would be?
(iii) How about exactly 1?
(2) Perfect brackets after Michigan St. beat Miami
The number of perfect brackets in the ESPN contest fell from 952 to 513
Prior to the Michigan St win you had 5 perfect brackets left in your contest. Given what happened in the ESPN contest how many do you think you’ll have after the Michigan St. win?
What do you think the probability is that you will have 0?
How about 1?
(3) The USC vs SMU game was the 22nd game of the tournament
You had 241 perfect brackets going in and 22 after USC won.
In the ESPN contest 81.6% of the entries picked SMU to win and 18.4% picked USC.
(i) Suppose you have a coin that flips heads 18.4% of the time. If you flip it 241 times what is the probability that you will have 22 or fewer heads? (probably best to use a computer for this one . . . )
(ii) Do you think having 22 brackets left rather than 44 (which would roughly be 18.1%) was random chance or was there another factor in the reduction?
(4) Expected upsets
I’ll make up the numbers for purposes of this problem, but you can get the actual numbers here if you want:
Suppose that the 18.8 million entries have selected the winners of the games this way:
Teams 1 – 5: 95% of the entrants guessed these teams would win their 1st round game
Teams 6 – 10: 90% of the entrants guessed these teams would win their 1st round game
Teams 11 – 15: 85% of the entrants guessed these teams would win their 1st round game
Teams 16 – 20: 80% of the entrants guessed these teams would win their 1st round game
Teams 21 – 25: 70% of the entrants guessed these teams would win their 1st round game
How many games out of these 25 do you expect the team that was not favored by the ESPN contestants to win? Why?