Strategy Talk: College Tournament Wild Card Predictions

Back in December 2015, Keith Williams on the Final Wager spoke of predicting Jeopardy! wild cards using combinatorics.

To make my predictions going forward here on The Jeopardy! Fan, my prediction model will use combinatorics in the same way. The one change that I have made to my model is its input percentages.

For my prediction model, I have taken every College Tournament since the doubling of dollar values (2002 and later), and calculated both the median score ($10,200) and the standard deviation ($6,226). I have thus assumed that non-winning scores are normally distributed based on that, and will use the Z-score of each non-winning total to determine the percentage chance that any one future score will be lower than the player’s current score.

From there, given the score, current wild card place, and number of non-winning scores to come, it is possible to calculate the % chance a player has of advancing.

As an example, take a $13,000 score of a second-placed player on Monday’s quarterfinal. My model gives that score a 67.4% chance of beating a random future score. Holding down the 1 seed with 8 non-winning scores to come, that score’s chances of advancing are:

As the 1 seed: 0.674^8 x 0.326^0 x 1 = 4.237%
As the 2 seed: 0.674^7 x 0.326^1 x 8 = 16.427%
As the 3 seed: 0.674^6 x 0.326^2 x 28 = 27.864%
As the 4 seed: 0.674^5 x 0.326^3 x 56 = 27.007%
Total: 75.534%

If that same $13,000 score finished 3rd, however, its chances of advancing would only be the sum of the first three rows above: 48.528%.


This same model can also be used to predict what score has a better than 50% chance of qualifying for the semifinals.

As it stands going into the 2017 College Championship, per this model:
A second-place score of $11,137 has a 50% chance of qualifying.
A third-place score of $13,103 has a 50% chance of qualifying.

Throughout this tournament, I will use this model each day to predict each wild card’s chances of advancing.

Previous Quarterfinal Scores:

32Niki Peters244001
32Gus Woythaler222221
32Emily Bingham176001
32Sam Deutsch144011
32Emily Sun89991
32Ziad Ali21600
32Sarah Dubnik14801
32Kate Laubscher14400
32Michael Sieja14400
32Hannah Norem14400
32Kevin Brown14000
32Amanda Rosner13200
32Noah Cowan13000
32Adam Antoszewski0
32Carissa Pekny0
30Terry O'Shea174001
30Ben Juster164001
30Erika Sloan150001
30Eric Turner140011
30Whitney Thompson100001
30Kevin Shen15401
30Julia Clark13599
30Laurie Beckoff13400
30Tucker Pope11370
30Cameron Kim10800
30Alex Sventeckis6800
30Kenesha Bennett4400
30Maria Khrakovsky3800
30Sarah Stevens1400
30James Fulwiler0
29Hannah Shoenhard264001
29Nishanth Uli228011
29Jim Coury200011
29Cindy Cammam127001
29Trevor Walker120011
29Kristen Jolley19000
29Julia Sprangers16400
29Daniel Donohue14000
29Jed Silver9199
29Jack Houston8400
29Forrest Farjadian6795
29Laura Rigge5900
29Paige Radke1599
29Taylor Roth1
29Bill Driscoll1
28Matt Olson400001
28Weston Mangin288001
28Tyler Benedict201001
28Connis Shi190001
28Greer Mackebee180001
28Zack Terrill19200
28Sarah Bart18600
28Monica Thieu15599
28Jaime Alayon12799
28Zach McDonnell11600
28Anne Rozek11500
28Marie McGraw10900
28Sarah Bauer8800
28Charlie Rooney1
28Carrie Tian1
27Sid Chandrasekhar284011
27Erin McLean224011
27Sam Spaulding215001
27Ellen Eichner196011
27Marshall Flores156011
27Steve Greene20000
27Lea Tottle17200
27Hans von Walter17000
27Kyle Kahan15800
27Olivia Colangelo15000
27Tim Relihan14800
27Amanda J. Ray14399
27Steph Gagelin13999
27Katie Singh12200
27Folake Dosu8700
26James Hill III251981
26Lindsay Eanet221001
26Ryan Stoffers203111
26Nick Yozamp200001
26Ashley Walker190001
26Leah Anthony Libresco21000
26Surya Sabhapathy17000
26Samira Missaghi15400
26Dan D'Addario13584
26Rebecca Maxfield11974
26Lyndsey Romick5700
26Prashant Raghavendran5400
26Will Warren46
26Robbie Berg3
26Danny Vopava0
25Scott Menke251991
25Patrick Tucker240011
25Greg Lichtenstein232001
25Erica Greil216471
25Laura Myers216001
25Ariella Goldstein18401
25Andrew Ceppos18399
25Mark Petterson16200
25Eric Betts15000
25Larissa Chamsangavej14400
25Courtney Trezise10000
25Anthony Dedousis8199
25Kadeem Cooper5200
25Jennifer Duann400
25Elyssa Browning1
24Danielle Zsenak444001
24Joey Beachum270001
24Tara Franey256001
24Danny Devries250111
24Gabrielle McMahan100001
24Andrew Chung19002
24Suchita Shah14208
24James Grant11599
24Vera Swain11101
24Katie Winter9800
24Meredith Johnson9201
24Brandon Hensley9200
24Than Hedman5199
24Jonathan Hawley2
24Dara Lind0
23Dean Malec250001
23Pete Troyan249991
23Christine Kennedy189001
23Craig Boge180001
23Will Schultz150001
23Cliff Galiher16800
23Alice Luo16400
23Haritha Sudanagunta14000
23Hayley Clutterbuck13500
23Anna Han12600
23Sarah Nothnagel11599
23Kaitlin Welborn8400
23Brady Cassis6500
23Ashley Grand5000
23Elise Burton3900
22Beth Cimini289001
22Peter Ellis152001
22Nico Martinez143991
22Jayanth Iyengar130001
22Adam Pinson115001
22Amanda Walker14800
22Antonia Wang11300
22Alison Jenik10000
22Ben Goldman10000
22Chris Breen6900
22Chelsea He2199
22Malisha Butts2045
22Colin Brown2000
22Christopher Chilton1
22Anna Allie1
21Kermin Fleming315421
21Lily Wang300001
21Rachel McCool221001
21Kelley Burd132031
21Vicky Manos94001
21Casey Retterer14000
21Ari Schoenholtz13600
21Lindsey Hargrove11200
21Amory Jendrek11000
21Larry Marshall10000
21Jeff Love7500
21Christina Maes400
21Amanda Nowotny0
21Matt Bushell0
21Brad Selvig0
20Keith Williams222221
20Jim Fitzpatrick190001
20Ken Basin168001
20Heather Groggel122001
20Alex Albrecht100011
20Ellen Auer16200
20Robby Schrum11400
20Josh Perkins11111
20Grant Hutchinson7999
20Karli Kosman6800
20Lauren Henderson4400
20Amanda Johnson800
20Mary Naam0
20Joyce Yuan0
20Lee Tucker0
19Katie Orphan220001
19Arianna Haut172001
19Stacy Lee128011
19Kyle Hale127001
19Pat Mobley122001
19Jara Dorsey16000
19Mark Kehres14500
19Sarah Martin-Anderson12800
19Corrie Loeffler10399
19Jenny Hauser8000
19Brian Andrews6900
19Tony Sina4001
19Allison Hurley1810
19Hikma Abdulghani1199
19Adam Kay800

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