Bracket Analysis (2/16/17)

By Paul Bessire
A look at what the men's college basketball tournament could look like through 50,000 simulations of Bracketology.




We use Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology to construct the bracket as of Feburary 15, 2017.

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

It has already been a wild 2016-17 season. We saw three of the top four teams in the AP Poll lose in the same Tuesday night in late January and just last weekend, six top ten teams went down in action. In a season that has been as unpredictable as this one, how wide open is the NCAA tournament going to be?

To answer that question we looked back at the last seven tournaments on PredictionMachine.com (2010 to 2016) we simulated and averaged the probability for each of the top ten teams to cut down the nets. Then we compared that average to the ten most likely 2017 champions as of right now.

How much of a difference is there heading into March Madness?

Title Chances Rank Average 2010-2016 2017 Simulations
1 21.4% 21.2%
2 13.2% 14.2%
3 10.3% 10.9%
4 9.1% 9.0%
5 7.9% 7.8%
6 6.0% 7.4%
7 4.5% 4.5%
8 3.9% 4.3%
9 3.2% 3.8%
10 2.8% 3.5%

So yeah, that's almost exactly the same as the average bracket. Eerily smilar. Last week at this time, the bracket looked a little more top heavy with the winner of the Virginia/Gonzaga regional semifinal over 30% likely to win the title. With Virginia struggling and losing three of the last four, the Cavaliers are now the third most likely team to win it all rather than the second (they are also in a different region which impacts their run). The one game Virginia won in the last 10 days - a 71-55 home win - came over the team that was previously our third most likely team to win it all in Lousiville. The Cardinals actually drop in win chances to 14.2%, yet move up to the second most likely team to win it all after disruption at the top.

Undefeated Gonzaga is currently the most likely champion in mid-February. It should be noted that, prior to last week, Gonzaga has never been the most likely champion in any interation of this weekly (February - March) exercise over the last eight years. The Zags have a 21.2 percent chance to win it all. The average favorite in the last six years has had better than a 20 percent chance to win before the tournament started.

March will be mad, as it always is, but the tournament isn't wide open. It's just really, really normal.

South Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Baylor (24.7%)

Final Four Sleeper: Florida (20.7%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Michigan (12.9% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 15.4%

First Round Upset: #9 Miami (FL) over #8 Minnesota (52.8%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to above, #6 Notre Dame over #11 Michigan (55.2%)

West Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Gonzaga (48.8%)

Final Four Sleeper: West Virginia (29.1%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Kansas State (23.1% to make to Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 33.5%

First Round Upset: #10 Kansas State over #7 Northwester (57.1%), #9 Virginia Tech over #8 USC (51.4%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to the games above, #6 South Carolina over #11 Middle Tennessee State (67.3%)

East Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Villanova (31.7%)

Final Four Sleeper: Virginia (25.4%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Clemson/Marquette Winner (10.5% to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 27.4%

First Round Upset: #11 Clemson or Marquette over #6 Maryland (51.1%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to above, #8 Oklahoma State over #9 VCU (63.1%)

Midwest Region

Most Likely Final Four team: Louisville (42.9%)

Final Four Sleeper: Wisconsin (13.3%)

Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Syracuse (9.1% likely to make Sweet 16)

Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 23.7%

First Round Upset: #9 Wichita State over #8 Dayton (67.9%)

Closest First Round Game: In addition to above, #7 Xavier over #10 TCU (61.9%)