The Massey-Peabody bracket reconciles politics and analytics, drawing on good analytics while acknowledging political reality. We begin with the traditional Massey-Peabody Power Rankings, a predictive analytics model built to identify the “best” teams. We then impose a few political constraints in order to also consider which teams are “most deserving”: 1) Every team starts the season equal (hence we use Massey-Peabody’s “hybrid” rankings, MPh, detailed below), 2) No more than two teams per conference can be seeded, and at least three conferences must be represented, 3) Priority among comparable teams goes to conference champions and head-to-head winners, and 4) Though win-loss records are notoriously unreliable indicators of team quality, even we recognize that a 2-loss team cannot be seeded above an undefeated power-conference team.
Massey-Peabody final bracket
1. Alabama, 12-1, SEC, MPh #1 (MP #1)
2. Ohio State, 12-1, Big 10, MPh #2 (MP #2)
3. Oregon, 12-1, PAC-12, MPh #3 (MP #3)
4. TCU, 11-1, Big12, MPh #4 (MP #5)
Same four teams, slightly different order, absolutely zero controversy. Straight off the top of our in-season (“hybrd”) rankings, and almost identical to our full model, there is no question who we’d slot for the playoffs. Alabama at the top, as they’ve been from the beginning. Ohio State back up to #2 after slipping last week. Oregon at #3 and TCU comfortably rounding out the bracket.
Baylor is #8 and a full 5 points below TCU, so we’re not worried about head-to-head issues. Florida State is all the way down at #16 in our in-season model. At this point in the year the full model and the in-season models start looking quite similar, with FSU being the most notable exception.
We’ll take a closer look at how this played out over the next few days.
Background: To be more politically palatable, we created a modified version of our rankings that does not use priors. In these rankings all teams start the season on equal footing and are never affected by our pre-season expectations for them. (Tip: This is a bad way to bet.) But we do use priors for strength-of-schedule considerations. Hence, while Marshall and Alabama begin the season equal, we know Alabama plays the tougher schedule. It’s a fudge. But it allows us to maintain some realism while staying “pure” in our evaluation of this season’s play. Below is our current “Hybrid” Top 15, along with the rankings.