Bracketology Analysis (2/9/18)

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 February 8, 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.

About Last Night

The Duke-UNC rivalry may be missing the pageantry of the 1990's, but because both teams are perennial tournament contenders, the marquee matchup remains a big frickin' deal. Heading into last night's game, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels split the last 100 meetings, 50-50. After their second-half surge, where they hammered Duke on the boards, committed a program-low two turnovers, and eventual 82-78 comeback win, UNC improved to 51-50 over the past 101.

Duke has dropped three out of their last four games including that resume wart loss to St. John's. Despite the tough stretch with seven games to go before the ACC Tournament, Coach K's crew remains fifth in KenPom and eighth in Sagarin rankings. They're 3-2 vs. Sagarin&'s Top 25, but 6-2 vs. the Top 50. As of now, they only have two games versus top 30 opponents the rest of the way. So, they'll have to bolster their tournament resume in the conference tournament.

Lunardi's latest bracket iteration was released prior to Duke's loss. However, after 50,000 bracket simulations, the Blue Devils – as the Miwest Region's No. 2 seed – advanced to the Final Four 17.2% of the time and cut down the nets 10.6% - remaining one of the college basketball engine's favorites to win the National Championship.

The No. 4-seed Tar Heels' 1.2% national title odds ranked 13th among the field of 68, but behind No. 6 seed Gonzaga and No. 5 seed St. Mary's. The top two teams in the West Coast Conference, ranked 11th/12th in the AP and Coaches' Pool, also won late-Thursday night.

For the Gaels, it was their 19th straight win with their last loss coming back in November. However, according to the Sagarin ratings, they've only played one Top 50 squad all season - Gonzaga - who they beat. Despite the soft schedule, St. Mary's ranks 16th and 14th in KenPom where they boast the third-best adjusted offense to-date. After 50,000 bracket runs, the Gaels advance to the Final Four 12.7% of the time and win it all 1.4% of the time

Right behind them are the Bulldogs, winners of six straight since losing to St. Mary's in mid-January. Lunardi handed them a tough draw as the East Region's No. 6 seed where they'd likely have to beat Michigan State and Villanova to reach San Antonio. However, of the top 17 favorites to reach the Final Four, the Bulldogs are the lowest seed aka sleeper aka Cinderella aka stop me if you've heard this about Gonzaga before. They reached the Final Four in 11.2% and win it all in 1.6% of the runs.

Nobody Wants to Meet Virginia

The Virginia Cavaliers got a taste of their own medicine earlier this week when Florida State held them to 22 points through the first 20 minutes. Granted, UVA flipped the script, held the Seminoles to 23 points in the second half and outscored them by 14 to win 59-55, but I said “taste” not served a three-course meal. Tony Bennett's team improved to 23-1 with six regular season games to go, of which only one is against a top 30 KenPom squad (Miami).

Despite the win and Villanova's embarrassing loss to giant-killers St. John's and Purdue's letdown home-loss to Ohio State, the top three No. 1 seeds of a week ago remained the same in Lunardi's latest bracket. The Cavaliers are in the South, Wildcats in the East and Boilermakers in the Midwest. One small change, however, was that Virginia would face a play-in No. 16 seed in the “second round” instead of Purdue.

After 50,000 bracket sims, Virginia's National Championship odds improved 10.1% to 37.7% and thus creating the widest gap between the top two favorites as Nova's odds dipped from 22.4% to 15.5%. Purdue fell behind Duke as the fourth-favorite to win it all after their national title odds' dipped 6.1% to 8.7%.

New No. 1 seed this week, Xavier, is the weakest, but their Final Four and National Championship odds improved slightly to 7.1% and 1.7%, respectively. Local in-state rival, Cincinnati, was promoted to the No. 2 seed this week, but was placed in the same region as overall No. 1 seed Virginia. So, although they moved up, their National Championship odds dipped 0.9% to 6.6%.

Bracketology Simulated 50,000 Times:

Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
East 1 Villanova - 98.1 81.0 65.3 45.0 32.4 15.5
East 16 UNC - Ash 77.8 1.8 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 16 UNC-A&T 22.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
East 8 Fla. St. - 66.0 15.3 7.8 2.7 1.1 0.2
East 9 Alabama - 34.0 3.6 1.2 0.3 0.1 0.0
East 5 Kentucky - 65.5 28.6 6.3 1.9 0.7 0.1
East 12 Loyola (IL) - 34.5 10.5 1.5 0.3 0.1 0.0
East 4 W. Va. - 72.8 49.5 15.6 6.6 3.1 0.7
East 13 Vermont - 27.2 11.4 2.3 0.5 0.2 0.0
East 6 Gonzaga - 79.7 52.8 26.1 11.2 6.1 1.6
East 11 Kansas St. - 20.3 6.5 1.3 0.2 0.1 0.0
East 3 Clemson - 80.1 36.6 14.1 4.7 2.1 0.4
East 14 Montana - 19.9 4.1 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0
East 7 Seton Hall - 56.8 14.1 5.2 1.4 0.5 0.1
East 10 Arkansas - 43.2 9.3 2.9 0.7 0.2 0.0
East 2 Michigan St. - 95.1 75.7 49.7 24.4 15.7 5.3
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
East 15 Rider - 4.9 0.9 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 1 Xavier - 88.8 57.5 30.7 17.1 7.1 1.7
West 16 Fla. Gulf Coast - 11.2 1.9 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 8 Nevada - 54.7 24.2 10.2 4.4 1.3 0.2
West 9 Texas - 45.3 16.5 5.9 2.2 0.5 0.1
West 5 Saint Mary's - 69.4 39.4 22.7 12.7 5.5 1.4
West 12 USC 46.4 14.3 4.9 1.7 0.6 0.1 0.0
West 12 Houston 53.6 16.4 6.1 2.3 0.7 0.2 0.0
West 4 UNC - 83.0 45.4 25.3 13.7 5.3 1.2
West 13 SD St. - 17.0 4.2 0.9 0.2 0.0 0.0
West 6 Creighton - 59.6 25.0 11.0 4.5 1.3 0.2
West 11 New Mexico St. - 40.4 12.7 4.5 1.3 0.3 0.0
West 3 Auburn - 91.9 61.1 35.2 18.6 7.4 1.9
West 14 Charleston - 8.1 1.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
West 7 Michigan - 54.8 20.0 7.6 2.7 0.6 0.1
West 10 Va. Tech. - 45.2 15.5 5.6 1.9 0.5 0.1
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
West 2 Kansas - 87.3 61.4 35.4 19.3 7.6 1.7
West 15 UC Santa Barbara - 12.7 3.1 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0
Midwest 1 Purdue - 97.5 81.8 65.6 37.0 14.4 8.7
Midwest 16 Wagner - 2.5 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Midwest 8 Louisville - 39.2 5.8 2.7 0.6 0.1 0.0
Midwest 9 Texas A&M - 60.8 12.0 6.6 1.7 0.3 0.1
Midwest 5 Miami (FL) - 63.1 30.8 6.6 1.7 0.2 0.1
Midwest 12 Boise St. - 36.9 13.8 2.0 0.4 0.0 0.0
Midwest 4 Arizona - 75.5 47.0 15.4 5.4 0.8 0.3
Midwest 13 E. Tenn. St. - 24.5 8.5 0.9 0.1 0.0 0.0
Midwest 6 Wichita St. - 67.6 28.5 9.3 3.3 0.6 0.2
Midwest 11 Middle Tenn. - 32.4 9.5 1.7 0.4 0.0 0.0
Midwest 3 Texas Tech - 87.9 59.0 21.1 9.0 2.5 1.1
Midwest 14 Belmont - 12.1 3.0 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0
Midwest 7 Florida - 62.1 11.9 3.8 1.0 0.1 0.0
Midwest 10 Providence - 37.9 4.7 1.1 0.2 0.0 0.0
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
Midwest 2 Duke - 97.5 82.9 62.4 39.2 17.2 10.6
Midwest 15 Pennsylvania - 2.5 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 1 Virginia - 99.5 93.3 84.6 64.2 47.5 37.7
South 16 Nicholls St. 87.3 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 16 Arkansas-PB 12.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 8 Missouri - 43.5 2.7 1.1 0.2 0.0 0.0
South 9 Arizona St. - 56.5 3.9 1.8 0.5 0.2 0.1
South 5 Oklahoma - 65.9 29.9 2.9 0.7 0.2 0.1
South 12 UL-Lafayette - 34.1 10.1 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0
South 4 Ohio State - 83.2 54.7 8.7 3.2 1.0 0.4
South 13 Buffalo - 16.8 5.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 6 RI - 68.6 19.7 4.5 0.5 0.1 0.0
South 11 Washington 37.1 8.8 1.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 11 NC State 62.9 22.6 4.4 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
South 3 Tennessee - 93.2 73.2 31.5 8.1 3.2 1.5
South 14 Bucknell - 6.8 1.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
South 7 Butler - 47.1 10.0 3.7 0.5 0.1 0.0
South 10 TCU - 52.9 11.9 4.9 0.7 0.2 0.1
South 2 Cincinnati - 94.9 77.4 54.5 21.3 11.1 6.6
South 15 Wright St. - 5.1 0.7 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0

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