March Madness – Econ PhD Style

So a friend of mine set up a group on Yahoo for March Madness this year, and instead of just putting up prizes for the most accurate bracket, he also decided to put up prizes for the worst bracket. Since I didn’t really follow college basketball at all this year, I decided to make a bracket using the only information about schools an economics PhD is permitted to know. I made a bracket where in every matchup, I predict that the school with the best IDEAS ranking (a system that ranks research institutions by the output of the econ faculty) would win (unless neither of them were listed in which case I went with the safe choice: the lowest ranked school). I think the results were a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll win since, apart from a few outliers like Michigan, UCLA, Wisconsin, etc., there seems to be a decent correlation between econ department quality and athletic department quality. Who knew?

BU vs. Princeton in the championship game.

Addendum: According to IDEAS, BU actually does make it to the championship game. While I am clearly biased toward BU, my bias did not affect the brackets.

20 Responses to March Madness – Econ PhD Style

  1. Corey says:

    Dude. That’s nerdy but this might one up the nerdiness…..

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  4. Michael says:

    Ohio State beats George Mason?

  5. Ryan says:


  6. Carol Ogden says:

    Wow a mention on Mankiw! Pretty impressive. I have been a faithful follower of his blog for a long time.

  7. John says:

    The following analogy comes to mind: the model section spans five pages in a paper, but all you need is a sentence of 10 words.

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  9. Guarf says:

    GMASON losing to Ohio State? No effing way.

    • yup says:

      Not just on Ideas, but also on pretty much any ranking (US News & World report or anything else you can find) Ohio State is ranked significantly higher than George Mason.

  10. Check IDEAS, George Mason isn’t even in the top 160. Ohio State is number 90.

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  12. Jacob AG says:

    If IDEAS counted blogging as “academic output,” then George Mason would rank higher.

    Congrats on your link from Mankiw by the way… your traffic probably went through the roof today.

  13. yeti37 says:

    saw your mention on Mankiw’s blog. congrats!

    Since you are a cycling fan, your methodology vaguely reminds me of a race I used to do in Burlington, NC whereby there is the typical sprint for the finish, but on the last lap the pack usually splits into two because there was a prize for the last place finisher. Sometimes the prize was more than the winners purse. The rule was you could not put your foot down nor go backwards. Track standing was okay. You were rewarding for sucking more than everyone else!

  14. Steve says:

    Your entire bracket hinged on the Ivy League championship: Princeton vs. Harvard, the winner getting what ended up as Princeton’s spot in the tournament.

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