Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pardon the Idiocy

Michael Wilbon, who's work I usually respect, came out with some odd comments about the NCAA tournament this week in his weekly Washington Post chat. His take on the tournament was as follows:
Last year four No. 1 seeds made it for the only time since the tournament began seeding in 1979. It won't happen again this year. So, I'm picking upsets.

Huh? So just because the last couple of years featured had the favorites making it to the Final Four, this year is going to be laden with upsets? Of course this is the most foolish kind of thinking from a statistical point of view - the gambler's fallacy. Wilbon seems to think that the tournament is "due" for a big upset year, but what's obvious is that each tournament is independent of previous tournaments. What happened last year doesn't matter - it's a brand new slate. And as I mention in my last post, Wilbon is right - yes there will be upsets, but how do you pick the right ones?

Wilbon may be a fine student of the game of basketball, but on this statistical point, I felt like I just had to interrupt.