Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Is Your Bracket A Guessing Game Or A Science?

Hardcore gamblers will tell you that betting can be reduced down to a science. And people who subscribe to that philosophy aren’t wasting time watching any of these tournament preview shows, they’re evaluating what service can deliver the best analysis.

The quantitative analysis business among bettors has grown in recent years and guys like Paul Bessire are hoping those that gamble will find comfort in his numbers.


A veteran of sports simulation site, Bessire has started

Bessire says he has run every possible matchup in the NCAA tournament 50,000 times through what he calls his Predictalator, which uses season stats to guide the program.

“The idea is that the unpredictable never happens,” said Bessire, who has his masters degree in quantitative analysis. “It’s whether a likely situation will happen or not.”

If you sign up for his site, Bessire will show you -- for free -- how his numbers guided his complete bracket, which includes Baylor in the title game. But Bessire makes his money by breaking down the probabilities of each game, adding in the spread factor, and selling the information to bettors for $20 a tournament day or $100 for the entire tournament.

He says he’s baffled how people convince themselves they must pick a No. 12 seed to beat a No. 5 seed, but they just guess when they make the decision. Bessire, for example, says his predictalator gives No. 5 Michigan State a 92.1 percent chance of beating No. 12 New Mexico State, but No. 5 Butler only has a 58.9 percent chance of beating No. 12 UTEP.

The lowest seed that has the highest probability of winning its first round game is No. 11 Old Dominion, which Bessire’s Predictalator has winning 65 percent of the time over No. 6 Notre Dame. Bettors who bought access to that game would also find out that they beat the 2.5-point underdog spread more than 70 percent of the time.

Bessire says the quantitative models are getting better because of technology. “In 2004, it would take me one hour to run 30 games,” Bessire said. “I ran every tournament game 50,000 times each in 45 minutes.”

Bessire says he has accurately predicted the winner of five of the last six Super Bowls, five of the last six World Series, five of the last six Stanley Cup champions and five of the last six NCAA tournament champions.

Questions?  Comments?