Bracketology: Who won? ESPN’s Lunardi, CBS’ Palm, Fox’ Schwab or the Big Ten Network’s Katz

All four had 67 of 68 selections right. Yet a deep dive reveals the winner!

Months of extrapolating and prognosticating are behind them. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the and Big Ten Network’s Andy Katz, CBS’s Jerry Palm, and Fox’s Howie Schwab can sit back and enjoy the madness like millions of the rest of us. It begins tonight with the First-Four in Dayton.

Getting every selection right by team, seed number and region might almost be as difficult as having a perfect bracket through the seven round tournament. Misidentifying just one team, putting a selected team in the wrong region or heaven forbid incorrectly assigning a wrong seed number can produce an avalanche of errors. In other words, the quartet of bracketologists had little margin for error. 

Now, with the final bracket set in stone, let’s assess each of the experts’ picks and determine who won?

The four visible bracketologists – in broad stroke

Each forecaster picked 67 of the 68 teams in the field before 6pm Sunday when the NCAA released its March Madness field.

Whether by some heavenly coincidence or by employing congruent formulas, they were all wrong about the same team, TCU. The Horned Frogs did not make the cut. All four gentlemen projected TCU to make the tourney. This is where Howie Schwab differed from Lunardi, Katz, and Palm. The latter trio believed that TCU would make it and Belmont wouldn’t. Schwab thought TCU would go dancing and St. John’s wouldn’t. (Interestingly, Schwab is a St. John’s alum.)

Seeds #1 to #3

So let’s take a deeper dive into the seeding numbers to grade these experts further.

The four were all spot on about the eight schools seeded one and two. They were also right about three of the four teams seeded third. LSU, Texas Tech, and Houston.

But all four prognosticators slotted in Florida State as the fourth third seed when it ended up being Purdue.

Seed # 4

The NCAA committee picked Virginia Tech, Florida State, Kansas St., and Kansas as fourth seeds across the tournament landscape. Meanwhile, Katz was the clear winner here with three correct picks. Palm and Schwab followed with two correct picks and Lunardi had only one. 

Number of four seed teams picked correctly (out of 4):

  • Andy Katz: 3
  • Jerry Palm: 2
  • Howie Schwab: 2
  • Joe Lunardi: 1

Seed # 5

Looking at the five seeds, Katz, Palm, and Schwab all predicted two teams correctly, while Lunardi didn’t correctly predict any.

Number of five seed teams picked correctly (out of 4):

  • Andy Katz: 2
  • Jerry Palm: 2
  • Howie Schwab: 2
  • Joe Lunardi: 0

Let’s now look at the bubble teams, the schools that just barely squeaked their way into the First Four. Lunardi and Schwab did the best job, picking six bubble teams correctly. Katz and Palm were closely behind with five correct picks.

Number of First-Four teams picked correctly (out of 8):

  • Joe Lunardi: 6
  • Howie Schwab: 6
  • Andy Katz: 5
  • Jerry Palm: 5

I also studied the accuracy of the analysts by a measure of their geographic projections; in other words, placing the right teams in the eventual regions they were assigned.

 Number of teams placed in the correct region:

 #1 seeds (out of 4)

  • Joe Lunardi: 4
  • Andy Katz: 4
  • Jerry Palm: 4
  • Howie Schwab: 2

#2 seeds (out of 4)

  • Joe Lunardi: 2
  • Jerry Palm: 2
  • Howie Schwab: 1
  • Andy Katz: 0

It is also important to note that the system I used to assess the analysts is by no means scientific or perfect. So, grading one higher than the other can strike a reader as being somewhat harsh. To be polite, let’s simply say that committee members didn’t completely concur with all the bracketologists.

The winner in my humble opinion:

Still, it is only natural to name a winner, at least as it pertains to the unscientific criteria I developed.

Overall, it appears that CBS’ Jerry Palm was most consistent with his picks when compared to the other three. In each category I evaluated, Palm was able to consistently make multiple correct picks and he seemed to have the best grasp on the tournament committee’s thought process.

All four experts strove for perfection and produced excellence.

Let’s tip-off the games. Enjoy March Madness. It’s here! Tonight!

Bracket final Version:


































Trevor Kriley

Trevor Kriley is a graduate student in the Television, Radio, and Film program at the Newhouse School of Syracuse University. In the future, he hopes to write stories on college basketball and more

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