Bracket Analysis (1-22-2013)

Last Updated: 8/19/2014 10:03 PM ET

Director of Research and Analytics, John Ewing, takes 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. College basketball Over/Under normal+ picks (greater than 57% to cover) went 16-7 (70% O/U). Over the last four weeks, normal+ college basketball picks have gone 40-24 (63% O/U) and 58-40 (59% ATS). Subscribe to the Predictalator's pick information.

Bracket Odds, Predictalated Bracket, Bracket Analysis

Conference play has started; indubitably, league play will shake up the Top 25 (Like this past weekend where we saw Syracuse upset #1 Louisville, #13 Butler beat #8 Gonzaga, and #18 Michigan State knock off #11 Ohio State) and those teams currently projected to make the tournament in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. March Madness begins on Tuesday, March 19th; the countdown is on! The tournament is still eight weeks away but it is not too early to see who wins.

We use Joe Lunardi's Bracketology to construct our 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

Indiana wins again, to see our previous simulated bracket click here. The Hoosiers, currently a #2 seed (were a #1 seed in the January 15th edition of Bracketology), ranked #7 in the AP Poll but #2 in our Power Rankings, are the most likely team to win the National Championship. This would be the Hoosiers first title since 1987 and their sixth title overall. At 16.9% to win the tournament, the Hoosiers increase their likelihood from 14.1% when we simulated the bracket on January 11th. Even after the increased probability, Indiana is not nearly as significant a favorite to win as Kentucky was a year ago. Kentucky was predicted to win 21.4% of the time; even the second most favored team last year, Ohio State, was more likely to win (18.4%) than Indiana is currently.

With the additional information we have gained from two more weeks of basketball, the championship odds for a number of teams have changed. Indiana and Louisville are still our two most likely teams to face each other in the National Championship game. Louisville's odds have decreased slightly from 13.2% to 13%. Two weeks ago there were four teams with double digit win probabilities: Indiana (14.1%), Louisville (13.2%), Duke (10.3%), and Kansas (10.3%). Now there are only three teams, Indiana, Louisville, and Florida, which increased its likelihood from 9.0% to 11.9%. Duke and Kansas saw reductions in their odds from 10.3% to 9.4% and 10.3% to 6.7% respectively. Due to seeding the most likely Final Four would consist of Indiana, Louisville, Florida, and Syracuse.

In 2011, all 16 teams seeded 1-4 in the brackets were at least 50% likely to make the Sweet 16. As the bracket is currently constructed, NC State (36.7%), Michigan State (41.4%), Arizona (42.1%), New Mexico (38.9%), and Butler (31.5%) are all less than 50% likely to win two games in the tournament. By the second weekend we could lose a #2, two #3, and two #4 seeds. Bucknell, a #12 seed, is our most likely Cinderella story reaching the Sweet 16 23.4% of the time.

There are only two predicted upsets in the first round; there were five in the previous simulation. However, there are a total of twelve games in which the favored team wins 60% of the time or less; there were only ten such games in January 11th simulation.

Conference Breakdown

Big East – 7 teams, Big Ten – 7 teams, Big 12 – 6 teams, Mountain West - 6 teams, ACC - 5 teams, SEC - 4 teams, Pac-12 - 4 teams, Atlantic 10 – 3 teams, Conference USA - 2 teams, Missouri Valley – 2 teams, and West Coast Conference – 2 teams

Below are teams considered in Bracketology to be On the Bubble or part of the First Four Out. Next to each team is our overall ranking plus where they rate offensively and defensively.

On the Bubble Overall Offense Defense
Illinois 61 52 85
Saint Mary's 36 11 134
Iowa State 24 16 89
Memphis 38 79 18
First Four Out Overall Offense Defense
BYU 38 69 26
Iowa 42 53 36
Washington 70 55 126
Alabama 50 95 41
Next Four Out Overall Offense Defense
Texas A&M 96 109 121
Indiana State 101 123 103
Xavier 87 91 109
La Salle 60 64 69

South Region

There are five teams in this region that are in our top 20: Indiana (2), Kansas (7), Ohio State (9), Cincinnati (18), and North Carolina State (19). This is the strongest region not only because of the number of teams ranked in our top 20 but also because the region combines to win the title, 28.8%, more than any other region. Unfortunately for the likes of Kansas, Ohio State, Cincinnati, and NC State, Indiana wins the region 41.2% of the time. 

Most Likely Final Four team: Indiana (41.2%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Ohio State (10.6%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Belmont (15.9% to Sweet 16), they were over 30% likely in our last simulation

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 28.8%

Three Most Important Players:  Cody Zeller (Indiana), Ben McLemore (Kansas), and Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati)

First Round Upset: None

Closest First Round Game: #8 Mississippi over #9 UNC (50.6%)

West Region

There are seven teams that rank in our top 25, Syracuse (4), Kentucky (12), Michigan State (13), Arizona (14), Gonzaga (15), Wisconsin (16), and UNLV (21). The irony is that while this is a "strong" region, only two teams have greater than 1.5% chance of winning it all with Syracuse winning the region 33.1% of the time. This may be the greatest collection of 4 and 5 seeds ever.

Most Likely Final Four team: Syracuse (33.1%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Gonzaga (17.5%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Kentucky (28.1% to make Sweet 16 and 15.1% to Elite 8)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 16.1%

Three Most Important Players: C.J. Fair (Syracuse), Keith Appling (Michigan State), and Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)

First Round Upset: #10 Kentucky over #7 Wisconsin (50.4%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to Kentucky/Wisconsin, #8 Oklahoma over #9 Colorado (53%)

East Region

Florida and Duke dominate this region. Florida has made the Sweet 16 two years in a row while Duke has been there in three of the last four years. Both programs have won the title in recent memory, Duke - 2010 and Florida - 2006 and 2007. We give Florida, the new #1 in our Power Rankings, the slight edge to advance to the Final Four. The Gators win the region 32.6% of the time. They are followed by Duke (30.7%), and then Minnesota (15.8%).

Most Likely Final Four team: Florida (32.6%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Minnesota (15.8%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Bucknell (23.4% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 26.8%

Three Most Important Players: Seth Curry (Duke), Kenny Boynton (Florida), and Andre Hollins (Minnesota)

First Round Upset: None

Closest First Round Game: #7 Marquette over #10 Colorado State (51%)

Midwest Region

Louisville, our most likely tournament runner-up, has a clear path to the Final Four. Only Michigan stands in the way of a Cardinals team that made it to the Final Four a year ago. Louisville wins this region 37.4% of the time. They are followed by Michigan (24.3%), Creighton (16.2%), and Pittsburgh (6.8%).

Most Likely Final Four team: Louisville (37.4%) 

Final Four Sleeper: Creighton (16.2%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Saint Mary's (17.5% likely to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 28.1%

Three Most Important Players: Peyton Siva (Louisville), Trey Burke (Michigan), and Doug McDermott (Creighton)

First Round Upset: #9 Pittsburgh over #8 Baylor (65.6%)

Closest First Round Game: #7 San Diego State over #10 Iowa State (51.2%)