Artificial bracket intelligence

Bracket Predictor picks the Sweet 16, early upsets

Updated: March 15, 2012, 10:45 AM ET
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider

I may not be "Airplane!" passenger Barbara Billingsley translating to help spare a sick passenger, but I do speak a rather critical dialect in a pinch. Or the month of March. For the third straight year, I'm teaming with the computer to interpret all the 1s and zeros, the binary language of Bracket Predictor, and transcribing the findings. Ya dig? Question it if you want, but (A) our resulting findings will be in the 90-plus percentile among all brackets, and (B) you'll be asking me for help when robots rule the world and only I can reason with them.

This year I'm also going to apply a little historical logic, which is a key component to the computer's pick process. For instance:

• I won't take a 16-seed over a 1, or 15 over a 2, even if there are subtle hints of an upset, because that's happened four times in 216 matchups.
• But I will take a 12 over a 5, which has happened 21 times in the last 23 years.
• I'll ride a double-digit seed to the Sweet 16; one has made it in 25 of 27 years.
• We'll see at least a 2- or 3-seed upset in the second round. Only once in 27 years have all the top three seeds (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3) made the Sweet 16.

As a reminder, the computer utilizes four parameters for each decision. You can see those in the box at right. Before the Sweet 16 picks, here are the key notes and matchups early on.