# Probability of Winning the NCAA Tournament

Now that the field of 68 has been set, the next question is who will be lucky enough to win the NCAA Tournament? This has been the year of parity as we have seen a bevy of teams fall from the #1 ranking throughout the season. Also, this season features the most number of losses of #1 seeds in the history of the tournament with 23 combined losses between Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, and Virginia. The previous record was from 2000 with 20 losses.

Nate Silver’s 538 page has a pretty cool interactive graphic that displays Kansas with a 19% chance of winning the tournament, followed by North Carolina with 15%. However 538 derived their probabilities, through a battery of Elo ratings and other various analytics (some based on play by play), this is just one interpretation of how to develop a probability structure. For our, we consider building an iterative model based on cross-correlated head-to-head match-ups (like in Colley’s method); score-based beta regression over game locations, time between games, player injuries and suspensions, and head-to-head-match-ups. It’s the very reason we predicted Connecticut to win the A-10 conference tournament when most other Bracketologists labeled UCONN as a “Bubble” needing to win the tournament. We’re not saying we’re better than others, we’re just saying our interpretations sometimes gets things right when others get them wrong (and vice-versa). We still have a hard time predicting Holy Cross’ run through the Patriot League.

Using our rankings system, we build a Markov simulation and run 10,000,000 simulations of the NCAA tournament. We tally the winners and then divide by 10,000,000 to obtain the probabilities. Sounds simple? It actually is… Anyways, here are the results:

# Probability of Winning the NCAA Tournament

 Team Probability of Winning Kansas 8.5790 Virginia 7.4450 North Carolina 7.2837 Oregon 6.6224 Michigan St 6.3602 Villanova 6.3156 Oklahoma 5.9477 Xavier 5.5243 West Virginia 4.6655 Miami FL 3.9689 Texas A&M 3.8008 Utah 3.5359 Kentucky 2.8963 Duke 2.7659 Iowa St 2.6482 California 2.3757 Purdue 2.1891 Indiana 2.0066 Baylor 1.9585 Maryland 1.8846 Arizona 1.3390 Texas 1.3284 Seton Hall 1.2717 Notre Dame 1.0331 Iowa 0.8636 Dayton 0.6512 Wisconsin 0.6325 Oregon St 0.6077 USC 0.4055 Texas Tech 0.4029 St Joseph’s PA 0.3999 Colorado 0.3703 Butler 0.2731 Connecticut 0.2711 Cincinnati 0.2584 Providence 0.2289 Pittsburgh 0.1629 Syracuse 0.1426 VA Commonwealth 0.1343 Gonzaga 0.0815 Temple 0.0790 Michigan 0.0447 Vanderbilt 0.0421 Wichita St 0.0396 Northern Iowa 0.0394 Tulsa 0.0280 Ark Little Rock 0.0214 Yale 0.0195 S Dakota St 0.0146 Chattanooga 0.0139 Hawaii 0.0091 UNC Wilmington 0.0053 Stony Brook 0.0038 Iona 0.0032 SF Austin 0.0015 Fresno St 0.0013 WI Green Bay 0.0007 Buffalo 0.0005 UNC Asheville 0.0001 CS Bakersfield 0.0001 MTSU 0.0001 Weber St 0.0000 Hampton 0.0000 Austin Peay 0.0000 FL Gulf Coast 0.0000 Southern Univ 0.0000 F Dickinson 0.0000 Holy Cross 0.0000

As we can see there is no clear cut winner. Kansas has the best chances to win, however, due to their ability to lose games to Michigan State, Iowa State, West Virginia, and (most ugly) Oklahoma State; Kansas also has the ability to lose as early as the Sweet Sixteen, when matched up against Maryland or California.

This isn’t the days of last year, when Duke and Kentucky crossed the 10 percent mark, with Wisconsin hovering near 9 percent. This is the worst fielded tournament in its 35 year history; in terms or losses. This will be an interesting tournament, filled with potential upsets everywhere.

How do you think the tournament will turn out this year? Who are you rooting for?

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