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Original Issue

Top Ranking

If you were to fashion an Internet college basketball ratings
guru, what qualities would you choose? He'd be young, yes, and
Silicon Valley-based. He'd hold a degree in some statistical
field like mathematical and computational science. Considering
which school was ranked No. 1 as of Monday, why not make him a
Stanford graduate?

Meet Mike Greenfield, 23 and Stanford '00, whose one-man
operation,, is a must-visit for folks filling
out NCAA tournament pool sheets. "I developed this system when I
was in college, working with," says
Greenfield, who has a day job as a software engineer for an
online money-transfer service in Palo Alto, Calif. "In December
1999, I launched my own site."

Teamrankings is true to its name. All 319 men's and 316 women's
teams are ranked on a numerical scale. While Greenfield refuses
to divulge his rating formula, he does allow that margin of
victory, the site of all games (i.e., home or away) and the
ranking of a team's opponents figure prominently. Greenfield
believes his method is an improvement on the Ratings Percentage
Index (RPI), which the NCAA uses to help determine entry into
and seeding for the tournament. "The RPI averages your
opponents' strengths," says Greenfield, "so playing the 149th-
and 151st-best teams is equal to playing Numbers 1 and 300. I
look at the former pair of games as being easier than the latter."

On teamrankings's "NCAA Tournament Odds" link Greenfield projects
the field, each school's chances of advancing and each school's
margin of victory or defeat against every potential tournament
foe. (That's 4,032 games broken down.) He sees his alma mater as
having a 50.00% chance of making the Final Four while giving
Winthrop, the champion of the Big South Conference and lowest
ranked tournament team, 0.00% chance of completing the journey to
Minneapolis. "It's not that they have no chance to make the Final
Four," says Greenfield of the Eagles. "It's just that,
statistically, it's in the thousandths-of-a-decimal-point range."

Reader beware: Greenfield's Final Four last year (based on a
combination of his formula and his feelings) were Stanford,
Temple, Texas (all second-round losers) and eventual champion
Michigan State. He didn't win the informal pool he runs for
friends. Why? "I haven't figured out a way to measure
psychology," he says.


Mike Greenfield's one-man operation is a must-visit for folks
filling out NCAA tournament pool sheets.