It's time to roll out the 2013 TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown.
Let's introduce this year's contestants:
Arturo Galletti is back again, representing the Wages of Wins school of basketball analytics. He's an electrical engineer by trade and and works on sport analysis in his free time.
ESPN.com Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the field for the first time.
Jeffrey Ma, the 2010 champion, is back. The movie "21" and book "Bringing Down the House" are about his experience as a member of the MIT Blackjack Team. He wrote "The House Advantage: Playing the Odds to Win Big In Business" and is the CEO of tenXer.
Benjamin Morris, who won the 2011 Smackdown, has a blog at Skeptical Sports Analysis.
Matthew Stahlhut, a sports gambling consultant, is the reigning TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown champion and looks to defend his 2012 title.
Henry Abbott's mom.
The Crowd represents the collective wisdom of more than 100 ESPN.com writers and TrueHoop Network bloggers. A similar model (our annual Summer Forecast feature) has beaten the Las Vegas line on regular season win totals each of the past three seasons.
There's a consensus among our panel that the Heat, Thunder, Spurs, Nuggets and Pacers will advance. Mr. Ma is the lone dissenter in the Knicks-Celtics series, as he picked the Celtics in 6. In both 4 vs. 5 matchups, the field is divided, which means the outcome of those two series will likely set the pace for the Smackdown as we move forward.
One interesting item from The Crowd's picks: It has six of the eight series winners closing out the first round on the road, a counter-intuitive prediction in a sport where home teams tend to dominate. Is there wisdom in this crowd? Watch this space.