How does this work?

Bubble Watch | Bracket Prediction

Introduction As a college sports enthusiast since my time at Purdue University, I've been captivated by the power of data in predicting and understanding team performances. In this post, I'll share my journey with computer rankings and how I've utilized ChatGPT to help me understand where each team stands in the NCAA tournament landscape.

A Changing Sports Analytics Landscape My fascination began in the early 2000s, driven by questions like, "What are Purdue's chances in the Big 10?" or "Who's likely to win the NCAA tournament?" Back then, quantitative answers were hard to come by. Fast forward to today, and tools like ESPN's Basketball Power Index have transformed the landscape, answering these questions better than I ever did. Although other tools superceded my own rankings, I'm exploring a new niche: providing succinct team season summaries and their standing in relation to the NCAA tournament bubble. Instead of staring at a team's schedule on Ken Pomeroy's rankings or Kenneth Massey's rankings (both are fantastic), I sometimes prefer to read a blurb about the team's NCAA tournament resume.

Automating Bubble Watch With ChatGPT My experience with rankings helps ChatGPT serve as a virtual college basketball analyst. ChatGPT processes a wealth of data on each team - from team records to complex computer rankings - and outputs concise, insightful blurbs. These blurbs combine the power of advanced metrics with the linguistic fluency of ChatGPT. Every team - even ones with no realistic chance to make the tournament - gets an updated blurb on their tournament resume the day after each game. So, if you've ever wanted an up-to-date sober-minded analysis of the NCAA tournament chances of a very bad team, now you can have it. Below are a couple example blurbs from opposite ends of the spectrum. They're not Shakespeare, but they're usually on target.

Example Blurbs As I write this, Purdue is the top seed in my automated bracket. Here's what ChatGPT has to say about their resume:

Purdue has constructed a formidable NCAA tournament resume thus far into the season with several high-profile wins that will catch the selection committee's eyes. The Boilermakers have not just feasted on lower-tier competition; they've displayed their might against top-notch programs. Notable triumphs include taking down a marquee program like Gonzaga at a neutral site, which provides evidence of their ability to perform under neutral conditions akin to the tournament setting. Additionally, back-to-back neutral court victories against Tennessee and Marquette, both high-caliber teams, bolster their case as a feared contender. The fact that Purdue made a statement by beating an elite team like Arizona, combined with their consistent dominance across their schedule, showcases that they are a well-rounded squad capable of both offensive firepower and strong defensive stands. Entering the heart of Big Ten play, Purdue will have ample opportunities to cement its status as a top seed, provided they navigate the challenges of tough road games and maintain their high level of play against the rigors of conference adversaries like Illinois and Wisconsin.

IUPUI is at the bottom of the rankings, and ChatGPT rightly recognizes that their only path to the tournament is automatically qualifying by winning their conference tournament:
The hope of making a splash in the NCAA tournament for IUPUI rests almost entirely on the prospect of an auto-bid by winning the Horizon League Tournament, given their underwhelming performance to date. The team's struggles are illustrated in outings like the heavy losses to Indiana State and Minnesota, where both offense and defense were outclassed. Even within their conference, games against teams such as Wright State and Northern Kentucky haven't gone their way, which doesn’t bode well for their chances. On the upside, a conference tournament run can be unpredictable, and the team will need to harness the grit shown in their victory over Valparaiso to fuel a potential surprise in the postseason. The games ahead offer a mix of challenges; key matchups against Detroit and Cleveland State may be their best shots at gaining momentum heading towards conference play, where anything can happen. However, unless the Jaguars can significantly turn things around during these games, expecting them to cut down the nets in March appears to be a long shot.

Tell Me How It's Working (or not working)! I'm always eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions on improving this project. Feel free to reach out through the mail icon above - every piece of feedback is invaluable in refining this labor of love.