Bracket Analysis (1/12/18)

By Ryan Fowler


A look at what the 2018 men's college basketball tournament could look like through 50,000 simulations of Bracketology. We use Joe Lunardi's latest bracket to construct the field as of January 11, 2018.

How it Works

Prediction Machine 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 Simulation Update

It would appear top 25 college basketball teams have an “X” tattooed on their forehead this season. Just last week, eight of the top 10 teams lost including Michigan State, Duke, Xavier, and Oklahoma. This led Lunardi to make some tweaks to his latest bracket albeit none too drastic save for Arizona State falling from a No. 1 to No. 3 seed after back-to-back losses to Arizona and Colorado.

When the dust settled on our latest 50,000 bracket simulations run, a familiar program saw a significant boost week-over-week. The Gonzaga Bulldogs, runners-up from a year ago, remained Lunardi's No. 6 seed in the West Region, but their odds of reaching the Final Four nearly doubled from 9.1% to 17.2%.

Mark Few's crew currently ranks 30th in the nation in points per game (90.6), tenth in rebounds (41.4 RPG) and 14th in assists (18.2 APG). Since losing to San Diego State on December 22, Gonzaga has won five straight and are 5-0 in the WCC. KenPom has them ranked No. 7, while in Sagarin, they're ninth.

The Bulldogs' chances of reaching the Championship game and cutting down the nets nearly doubled as well to 8.3% and 3.8%, respectively.

Risers/Sleepers/Cinderellas



The Cincinnati Bearcats' odds of reaching the Final Four more than doubled in our most recent simulation from 7.9% to 17.0%. While their strength of schedule can be questioned (255th in KenPom), their only losses came to RPI Top 50 squads Xavier and Florida. Mick Cronin's team ranks second in the nation in points allowed at 58.6 per contest.

Joining the Bearcats as “sleepers on the rise” are North Carolina, despite their two losses last week, Kansas, despite their loss to Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders, despite their loss to Oklahoma.

See what I meant by ranked teams boasting a big ol' “X” on their forehead? Is that parity or something else?

I digress.

The Tar Heels, Jayhawks and Red Raiders saw a slight bump in Final Four odds with each having better than a 10% chance of reaching San Antonio.

Final Four / Championship Odds

Here's the week-over-week change among the bracket favorites...

NCAA Championship Odds
Team January 4 Sim January 8 Sim
Villanova 22.4% 20.8%
Duke 15.8% 16.3%
Michigan State 15.7% 15.2%
Virginia 6.9% 11.1%
Purdue 7.8% 11.0%
Arizona St. 2.0% 1.2%
West Virginia 1.9% 1.5%

While Villanova and Michigan State remained top seeds, Lunardi promoted both Virginia and West Virginia to No. 1's this week. Following their loss to N.C. State, Duke was demoted to a No. 2 seed.

Wichita State – who was one of our sleepers a week ago – saw their Final Four odds dip from 24.3% to 14.5%.

The Cavaliers held five of their last six opponents to 58-or-fewer points highlighted by their win over North Carolina when the Tar Heels could only muster 49 points after shooting 29.6% from the floor.

West Virginia has won 15 straight games and are 3-0 against Sagarin's top 25 and 5-1 against his top 50.

Purdue's Final Four odds jumped nearly eight percent. However, the Boilermakers, winners of 12 straight, just survived a scare at Michigan, 70-69. The good news is KenPom (No. 4) and Sagarin (No. 2) love them and those advanced metrics grade Purdue out as a legit threat in this year's NCAA Tournament.

2018 Bracketology Simulated 50,000 Times

Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
East 1 Villanova - 99.1 87.1 68.0 50.8 33.4 20.8
East 16 SE Louisiana 69.9 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 16 Morgan St. 30.1 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 8 RI - 45.2 5.2 1.6 0.4 0.1 0.0
East 9 Ohio State - 54.8 7.7 2.7 0.9 0.2 0.0
East 5 Auburn - 96.9 33.8 7.6 2.8 0.7 0.2
East 12 W. Carolina - 3.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 4 Texas Tech - 86.5 61.8 19.6 10.9 4.9 1.8
East 13 Vermont - 13.5 4.3 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0
East 6 Creighton - 60.4 24.7 10.3 3.0 1.0 0.3
East 11 Georgia 27.0 6.4 1.3 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 11 Baylor 73.0 33.2 12.1 4.5 1.0 0.3 0.1
East 3 UNC - 92.6 60.9 32.5 11.7 5.0 2.1
East 14 Iona - 7.4 1.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 7 Texas A&M - 71.0 29.0 13.3 3.7 1.4 0.5
East 10 Syracuse - 29.0 6.2 1.7 0.3 0.1 0.0
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
East 2 Wichita St. - 95.1 64.4 37.3 14.5 6.5 2.8
East 15 Drake - 4.9 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 1 Michigan St. - 98.7 81.8 67.9 48.0 27.2 15.2
West 16 Oral Roberts 85.6 1.3 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 16 Jackson St. 14.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 8 Nevada - 43.8 7.3 3.5 1.3 0.3 0.1
West 9 Texas - 56.2 10.9 5.8 2.3 0.6 0.1
West 5 Seton Hall - 80.6 47.6 12.5 5.3 1.6 0.4
West 12 UL-Lafayette - 19.4 4.9 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 4 Clemson - 79.0 41.7 9.5 3.6 0.9 0.2
West 13 Murray St. - 21.0 5.8 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0
West 6 Gonzaga - 77.5 50.7 34.7 17.2 8.3 3.8
West 11 Missouri - 22.5 9.5 3.8 0.8 0.2 0.0
West 3 Arizona St. - 82.6 37.8 21.3 8.6 3.4 1.2
West 14 Bucknell - 17.4 2.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 7 Notre Dame - 34.5 8.7 1.8 0.3 0.0 0.0
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
West 10 Marquette - 65.5 28.8 10.6 3.0 0.9 0.2
West 2 Oklahoma - 89.4 59.9 27.0 9.4 3.3 1.1
West 15 Montana - 10.6 2.7 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Midwest 1 Virginia - 98.4 76.1 58.0 34.9 20.7 11.1
Midwest 16 Robert Morris - 1.6 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Midwest 8 Michigan - 41.4 7.8 3.3 0.9 0.3 0.1
Midwest 9 Saint Mary's - 58.6 16.0 8.4 3.4 1.4 0.5
Midwest 5 Arizona - 84.3 50.4 17.0 7.0 2.9 1.0
Midwest 12 New Mexico St. - 15.7 3.6 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Midwest 4 Kentucky - 87.2 43.8 12.9 4.1 1.5 0.4
Midwest 13 Furman - 12.8 2.1 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Midwest 6 Miami (FL) - 71.4 27.9 7.9 2.6 0.8 0.2
Midwest 11 Houston 54.2 15.8 4.0 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0
Midwest 11 Boise St. 45.8 12.8 2.6 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0
Midwest 3 Kansas - 93.4 64.5 26.3 11.1 5.2 2.1
Midwest 14 Lipscomb - 6.6 1.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
Midwest 7 Arkansas - 46.6 8.2 2.7 0.7 0.2 0.0
Midwest 10 Louisville - 53.4 9.3 3.2 0.8 0.2 0.0
Midwest 2 Purdue - 97.6 82.2 58.7 34.3 20.5 11.0
Midwest 15 Radford - 2.4 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 1 W. Va. - 96.8 64.4 33.9 13.6 4.7 1.5
South 16 CS-Fullerton - 3.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 8 Fla. St. - 61.9 24.4 9.8 3.3 0.9 0.2
South 9 Butler - 38.1 11.0 3.3 0.9 0.1 0.0
South 5 Tennessee - 82.8 29.5 12.5 4.0 0.9 0.2
South 12 Buffalo - 17.2 1.8 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 4 Cincinnati - 95.0 67.8 40.2 17.0 7.0 2.5
South 13 W&M - 5.0 0.9 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 6 TCU - 65.9 36.9 13.5 6.2 2.0 0.7
South 11 UCLA - 34.1 13.6 3.1 0.9 0.1 0.0
South 3 Xavier - 80.8 44.7 15.7 7.2 2.3 0.7
South 14 NKU - 19.2 4.7 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
South 7 Florida - 59.3 15.6 7.9 3.3 0.9 0.2
South 10 Maryland - 40.7 8.4 3.5 1.2 0.2 0.0
South 2 Duke - 96.6 75.6 55.8 42.4 26.9 16.3
South 15 Pennsylvania - 3.4 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0