Grading The Pundits' Brackets: Jay Bilas And Barack Obama Will Make You Money, Seth Davis And LeBron James Will Lose It

With the first two rounds of March Madness complete, let's see how the pundits fared with their brackets. We scored pundits from ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, and CBS Sports, throwing in President Obama, LeBron James, and Nick Lachey for good fun (all three made their brackets available on ESPN).

As a reminder, our "$1 Bet Yield" metric calibrates predictions for boldness by measuring the average payout (using Vegas odds) had you placed $1 bets on each of the pundit's selections. This approach fits well with March Madness, since it mimics bracket scoring systems that award extra points for predicting upsets. We used standard Vegas odds for round one and Sweet 16 futures odds for round two (courtesy of sports book 5Dimes).

$1 Bet Yield

Jeff Goodman, CBS$1.22
Peter Tiernan, CBS$1.19
Jay Bilas, ESPN$1.19
Barack Obama$1.19
Nick Lachey$1.16
Rob Dauster, SI$1.11
Jeff Borzello, CBS$1.08
"Chalk" (higher seed)$1.02
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo$0.98
Matt Norlander, CBS$0.96
Colin Cowherd, ESPN$0.96
Joe Lunardi, ESPN$0.95
Dennis Dodd, CBS$0.93
Luke Winn, SI$0.92
Vegas Favorites$0.92
Jerry Palm, CBS$0.91
Andy Staples, SI$0.90
Pat Forde, Yahoo$0.88
Gary Parrish, CBS$0.87
Dick Vitale, ESPN$0.85
Gregg Doyel, CBS$0.84
Andy Glockner, SI$0.84
Andy Katz, ESPN$0.80
Stewart Mandel, SI$0.78
Seth Davis, SI$0.77
Brad Evans, Yahoo$0.74
LeBron James$0.73
Mike Huguenin, Yahoo$0.71

Jeff Goodman of CBS took first place, thanks to his picks of both Xavier and Florida to make the Sweet 16. It was a tough first weekend for the pundits overall, however, with only seven of the 26 returning a $1+ yield. Vegas, the best proxy for crowd consensus, significantly underperformed "Chalk" because it incorrectly predicted lower seeds such as UConn and Alabama to win their first round matchups and Wichita State to make the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, Obama and Lachey did quite well; King James did not.

ESPN's Jay Bilas had the most accurate bracket based on the standard hit rate approach (# of correct calls divided by # of total calls).

Hit Rate

Jay Bilas, ESPN75.0%
Barack Obama72.9%
Jeff Goodman, CBS70.8%
Peter Tiernan, CBS70.8%
Nick Lachey70.8%
"Chalk" (higher seed)68.8%
Rob Dauster, SI66.7%
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo66.7%
Jeff Borzello, CBS64.6%
Colin Cowherd, ESPN64.6%
Vegas Favorites64.6%
Joe Lunardi, ESPN62.5%
Luke Winn, SI60.4%
Jerry Palm, CBS60.4%
Andy Staples, SI60.4%
Gary Parrish, CBS60.4%
Dick Vitale, ESPN60.4%
Matt Norlander, CBS58.3%
Dennis Dodd, CBS58.3%
Andy Glockner, SI58.3%
Pat Forde, Yahoo56.3%
Andy Katz, ESPN56.3%
Stewart Mandel, SI56.3%
Gregg Doyel, CBS54.2%
Seth Davis, SI54.2%
Brad Evans, Yahoo52.1%
LeBron James52.1%
Mike Huguenin, Yahoo52.1%

For a breakdown of these two metrics by round, click here.

We will update these rankings following the championship game, using Final Four and championship futures odds.

Republished with permission from PunditTracker.com. PunditTracker's mission is to bring accountability to the prediction industry by cataloging and scoring the predictions of pundits. The site, which is currently running as a blog, is slated to officially launch in the spring.