Bracket Analysis (02-04-2014)

John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
 

A look at what the men's college basketball tournament could look like through 50,000 simulations of Bracketology. Follow John on Twitter @JohnEwing for more notes from his analysis and to let him know what else you may like to see with these projections. 

Bracket OddsPredictalated BracketBracket Analysis

The last time we ran this analysis there were still 14 undefeated teams, now only Syracuse and Wichita State remain. The AP Top 25 also looks different with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Baylor, Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Missouri all falling out of the rankings. A lot has changed over the last seven weeks just as it will in the last six weeks leading up to Selection Sunday. Though March Madness is still a ways away, it is never too early to see who will win the Big Dance.
 
We use Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology to construct the bracket. 

See: How it Works, a Tournament Summary and Regional Previews: SouthWestEast and Midwest.

 

How it Works
The Predictalator uses current rosters and strength-of-schedule and pace-adjusted team and player stats (weighted slightly more toward recent games), to play, one possession at a time, every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. For this analysis, we are tracking how likely a team is to make it to any level of the NCAA tournament. Each tournament is played individually, with the team that wins the game in that instance advancing. 

Tournament Summary

There have been ten teams since 1991 to make the Final Four out of a non-power conference, six since 2006. UNLV was the last mid-major to win the national championship but other Cinderellas have reached the title game – Utah in 1998 and Butler in 2010 and 2011. Non-traditional power schools dot the college basketball landscape – Wichita State (4th in AP Poll), San Diego State (5th), Creighton (12th), and St. Louis (13th). Is this the year that a non-traditional power school claims the title?
 
After 50,000 simulations, Creighton, currently a No. 3 seed, ranked No. 12 in the AP Poll but No. 4 in our Power Rankings, is the most likely team to win the national championship. CREIGHTON! Yes, we checked the math and this is real. With an 11.8% chance to win the tournament, Creighton’s odds are not great, in fact this would be the weakest most likely champion we have ever had.
 
It is called March Madness for a reason and the 2014 tournament is wide open. Last year Indiana and Louisville won almost 40% of all simulated tournaments while no other team had double-digit odds. Creighton may be the most likely winner but they are far from a dominant team. The other top contenders are Duke (11.5%), Arizona (11.2%), and Syracuse (10.2%) – no other team is greater than 5.0% likely to win.  
 
Last year, of the 16 teams seeded 1-4 in the brackets 12 were at least 50% likely to make the Sweet 16. As the bracket is currently constructed Michigan (46.8%), Michigan State (46.8%), Iowa (46.5%), Louisville (44.4%), San Diego State (44.2%), Kentucky (38.9%), Cincinnati (37.5%), and Oklahoma (31.2%), are all less than 50% likely to win two games in the tournament. By the second weekend we could lose two No. 2 seeds, two No. 3 seeds and all four No. 4 seeds.

There are only four predicted upsets in the first round but there are a total of twelve games in which the favored team wins 60% of the time or less making for some interesting matchups. 

South Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Creighton (30.7%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Oklahoma State (6.2%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Toledo (13.9% to Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 25.5%

First Round Upset: No. 9 Florida State over No. 8 Kansas State (55.0% of the time)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Providence (56.9%)

West Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Arizona (31.4%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Iowa (14.0%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Arizona State (25.2% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 24.9%

First Round Upset: No. 11 Arizona State over No. 6 Memphis (51.5%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, No. 7 UConn vs. No. 10 UNC (52.0%)

East Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Syracuse (28.4%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Wisconsin (8.2%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Delaware (11.2% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 29.1

First Round Upset: No. 11 Harvard over No. 6 UMass (50.3%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, No. 8 Xavier over No. 9 Geo. Wash (52.3%)

Midwest Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Kansas (18.2%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Pittsburgh (11.9%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Tennessee (22.5% likely to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 20.5%

First Round Upset: No. 9 VCU over No. 8 Minnesota (53.1%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, No. 7 UCLA over No. 10 Tennessee (53.2%)

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