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 bracket if played Nov 27
1. Alabama, 10-1, SEC, MPh #1 (MP #1)
2. Ohio State, 10-1, Big 10, MPh #5 (MP #4)
3. Oregon, 10-1, PAC-12, MPh #6 (MP #3)
4. Baylor, 9-1, Big12, MPh #9 (MP #12)
Our bracket holds steady for the third straight week. Though we continue to reach over a number of 2-loss teams – Wisconsin, Georgia and Mississippi State – to fill it. We can’t seed 2-loss teams while keeping an undefeated FSU on the sidelines – and they are very much on the sidelines according to our numbers – so again Ohio State slides up to #2, Oregon to #3 and Baylor to #4. One difference this week is that Oregon has jumped Ohio State in our full model, now #3 overall (behind Alabama and Georgia). Nice to see agreement with the committee’s bracket on two of the “best” 3 teams in the country.
Florida State keeps slipping, now down to #18 in our Hybrid model (which sets aside pre-season expectations), and even down to #9 in our full model. That means that even if while considering the best teams we seeded an 8–team bracket, FSU would not make it. At this point FSU should be seeded #1 or not at all. Those are the only defensible positions. If the W/L records are the end-all-be-all, then fine, make them #1. But if not, they simply do not belong in the top 4, by any measure.
We’re going to learn a few important things this weekend, mostly about TCU and the SEC East winner. Texas can simplify the Big-12 picture with an underdog victory at home Thanksgiving night. And Arkansas can deliver us the mythical Massey-Peabody title game for the SEC championship, Alabama (MP#1) vs. Georgia (MP#2), by knocking out Missouri. Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Baylor, all should have an easy time. UCLA-USC could be great, though guessing there aren’t huge national implications in the end. Great time of year.
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 from our full model (MP).
|Rank (Hybrid)||Team||MP (Hybrid)||Rank (Full)||MP (Full)|