It is that time of year again. You’re going to pull out a bracket, do your best at attempting to pick winners for every game despite seeing at most half of these teams play more than one game.
But your bracket will be perfect. Until the first round happens and a team you picked to go to the final four is out. The team that beat your final-four bound squad will actually go much further than everyone thought except for Ted who is a few cubicles down. Don’t give Ted too much credit though, he only picked Harvard because, “a bunch of nerds are too smart to get knocked out early.” At that point you’ll realize no one is winning Warren Buffett’s billion dollars even though the odds of getting a perfect bracket are much higher than people who can’t do reasonable math would lead you to believe.
I’ve assembled a list of links that cover some of the best analysis on the college basketball bracket. These people are smart and have probably watched more basketball than you. However, there’s no better reminder that nothing is a given in this world and no one can know everything than the March Madness bracket.
First, and this is just an automatic pick, all the 1-seeds are going to win their game. Every year I hope and pray that a 16-seed will create ultimate chaos by upsetting a top dog despite the catastrophic effects it will have on my bracket, because I love chaos like that. But the 1-seeds winning their first games are like the free space in bingo.
What isn’t automatic are the play-in games losing in the round of 64. Iowa will play Tennessee to make the round of 64. I like Tennessee to beat Iowa and then top Massachusetts. Five Thirty Eight, which could be one of the coolest blogs on the internet real soon has an awesome article on how play-in games create momentum.
If you’re a huge nerd like I am then you’ve probably already binge-read what Five Thirty Eight has up since launching March 17. Nate Silver, who received early fame and recognition for being incredibly accurate at predicting baseball statistics and later hit mainstream prestige after picking presidential election winners scary accurately, has created a prediction model for the March Madness bracket. The sheer amount of numbers creates a dreamland for sports analytics nerds such as myself. Silver’s pick to win the national title is Louisville over Florida with Michigan State and Arizona rounding out the Final Four.
Relating to Oregon, Silver gives the Ducks a 65% chance of topping BYU in their first game. According to the algorithm, Wisconsin has a 93% chance of beating American University. If Oregon were to make it to the round of 32 they would have a 19% chance of advancing past either Wisconsin or American.
Let’s say Oregon does pass Wisconsin/American and gets to the sweet 16. The Ducks would face, in order of likelihood to make the sweet 16, Creighton, Baylor, Nebraska, and Louisiana-Lafayette. Oregon would have a 10% shot at winning that game and moving on to the elite 8. With a 4% chance of making it to the final 4, a 1% chance of making the finals, and a less than 1% chance of winning the whole thing I’d have to say in my best Vin Diesel voice, “I like those odds.”
Extra for you to overanalyze while you fill out your bracket:
Vegas laughs at how the teams were seeded. Casinos put their money where their mouths are so if you’re struggling to pick a matchup, just check out the odds for each team to win it all.
Best case/Worst case for every team by Pat Forde: