Bracket Analysis (01/20/16)

By 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.



We use Joe Lunardi's Bracketology to construct the bracket.

See: How it Works, a Tournament Summary and Regional Previews: South, West, East 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. See the Bracket Odds and Predictalated Bracket.

Tournament Summary

The debate is raging. Which conference is the best in college basketball? To find out we simulated March Madness 50,000 times. The conference that is most likely to cut down the nets stands above the rest.

ACC

The Atlantic Coast Conference doesn't have the No. 1 team in the country or the most teams in the bracket. Yet, the ACC is stacked with title contenders. North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, Duke and Miami are each top four seeds. Pittsburgh and Notre Dame round out the seven teams from the conference to be included in the Big Dance. All seven squads rank inside the top 30 of our Power Rankings.

Big 12

There is no such thing as a night off in the Big 12. In the last week, there have been four upsets by rankings in the AP Poll including Kansas and Oklahoma falling, both of whom were ranked No. 1 at the time. The conference currently has two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed. The Big 12 isn't top heavy either as eight of the ten members are inside the top 54 of our Power Rankings.

Big East

Villanova is pretty good. The Wildcats are the top team in our rankings and one of four squads with better than a ten percent chance to be crowned champions. Outside Nova, the conference doesn't have many teams with a chance to win it all. Xavier has greater than a 60 percent chance to reach the Sweet 16 but Butler, Seton Hall and Providence are longshots to play in the second weekend of the tournament.

Big Ten

The conference tied for the most teams in the tournament last year and the Big Ten saw two of its teams reach the Final Four. Is the league set up for another strong tournament run? It wouldn't be a surprise with five teams in our Top 25 and four of them with better than a 10 percent chance to reach the Final Four.

Pac-12

The Pac-12 is getting a lot of love right now with eight of its twelve members slated to play in the tourney. However, there is no elite team in the conference and the most likely champion from the league (Arizona) has less than a two percent chance to win it all.

Combined these five conference make up nearly half the field (33 teams). These are the best conferences in college basketbal,l collectively winning 96.2 percent of all simulated tournaments. Of course, there can only be one.

The best conference in college basketball is the ACC. Of the 19 teams with at least a one percent chance to cut down the nets, the Atlantic Coast Conference has six of them including North Carolina, the most likely champion.

Conference Chance to win Tournament
ACC 28.70%
Big 12 28.20%
Big East 14.50%
Big Ten 22.20%
Pac-12 2.60%

South Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Kansas (34.7%)

Final Four Sleeper: Louisville (18.0%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): VCU (10.7% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 24.0%

First Round Upset: #10 Valpo over #7 Wichita State (52.8%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, #8 Michigan over #9 Gonzaga (56.5%)

West Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Villanova (30.7%)

Final Four Sleeper: Pittsburgh (5.3%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Iowa State (8.5% to make to Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 25.3%

First Round Upset: None

Closest First Round Game: #7 Butler over #10 Florida (52.1%)

East Region

Most Likely Final Four team: UNC (39.4%)

Final Four Sleeper: Indiana (4.9%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Texas Tech (12.3% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 21.8%

First Round Upset: None

Closest First Round Game: #6 Providence over #11 Texas Tech (53.7%)

Midwest Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Iowa (34.8%)

Final Four Sleeper: Miami (FL) (10.0%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Arkansas-LR (12.0% likely to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 29.0%

First Round Upset: None

Closest First Round Game: #7 South Carolina over #10 Colorado (55.2%)