This year’s March Madness certainly had its crazy moments. We witnessed the first triumph of a 16-seed over a 1-seed in the first round, and we got to watch Loyola University in Chicago dance their way to the Final Four. As I sat back and reflected on how much happened this year, I asked myself, “Just how irregular was this year’s March Madness?” This led to my attempts to find out how to quantify the tournament’s chaotic nature.
Even though Villanova came out as the champions, which wasn’t surprising, there is evidence that this year’s tournament was both more unusual and more exciting than in years past.
That being said, students at Yale recently developed a new metric called the Tournament Madness Factor–TMF for short. According to their numbers, 2018 was the third most unexpected tournament on record, behind the tournaments of 2014 and 2011.
Despite the lack of upsets after the Elite Eight, this tournament was still significant. Statistically speaking, upsets in later rounds become increasingly more unlikely, so what really sets one tournament apart from others is what happens in early rounds. Despite these games being the most pivotal to a given tournament’s true “madness,” they are the least watched. Think about it: if Loyola hadn’t pulled off the upset against the University of Miami (FL), they wouldn’t have been at all relevant in the news. It is interesting how the most underrated part of the tournament is what actually defines it for years to come.