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The NCAA Men's basketball tournament is a phenomenon in the United States. Each year millions of people complete tournament brackets to show off their knowledge of college basketball (and to win a little money). Don't go at it alone. Let Qlik Sense and the Bracket Mania app give you the inside scoop on any tournament match-up. 

The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts today. This college basketball tournament is a phenomenon in the United States as millions of folks rush to join bracket challenges to show how much they know about college basketball (and to win a little bit of money). I am one of those people.

There are different approaches to completing your bracket, some less scientific than others. I choose to let the data guide me. One person who is considered a guru at predicting match-up winners through data is Ken Pomeroy. He developed a couple of static based expressions that help to calculate both the win probability for each team in a match-up, as well as the total points scored for each team. These metrics are gold when it comes to completing a bracket.

For years, the Demo Team has produced a bracket mash-up where we let users fill out a bracket and we give them an inside look for each match-up using the KenPom calculations. This year, I decided to simply build a Qlik Sense app to allow users to select any two teams and quickly analyze the match-up. Because the first-round games are the only round where we know the match-up, we needed a way to allow users to see any number of combinations of matchups for the future rounds based on who they predicted to advance to the next round.

The First Four round or Play-In games were played last night. The KenPom calculations predicted the following results:

Texas Southern vs Mt St Mary’s


Texas Southern won 60-52. Not a good start for the match-up predictor which predicted St Mary’s to win using the win probability calculation.


Drake vs Wichita State


Drake won the game 53-52, which was predicted in both the predict winner by score and by win probability.


Norfolk State vs Appalachian State


Norfolk State won 56-55 which the win probability predicted.


Michigan State vs UCLA


UCLA won the game 86-80, which was predicted in both the predict winner by score and by win probability.


So after miscalculating the first match-up of the tournament, the predictor came back and correctly predicted the next 3 matchups (75% winning percentage). The goal of most profession gamblers is a correct pick rate of around 60%. I would say we are on the right track.

The First Round starts today, and the match-up predictor has predicting a couple of upsets. For example:

#9 Wisconsin over #8 North Carolina

#10 Rutgers over #7 Clemson

#10 Maryland over #7Connecticut

Time is running out! Brackets close at 12pm EST today, so hurry up and check out the Bracket Mania app to either edit your current predictions or to complete your bracket for the first time. The Bracket Mania app can be found here.

Enjoy the Madness! Good luck on your bracket!!