Nate Silver, formerly with Baseball Prospectus and fresh off moving his 538 political analysis to the New York Times, jumped into the March Madness fray this year. Mr. Silver used a combination of computer power rankings and seeds, with adjustments for geography, injury, and other factors, to generate probabilities for each team reaching a particular round in the bracket.
Now that we're down to a manageable 16 teams, I thought I'd play around with some of his numbers to calculate the probabilities of some interesting results.
These all assume the outcome of each region is independent. I think my math is right, but feel free to correct me if you notice anything wrong.
72.5% probability of a #1 seed winning the championship
18 champs have been #1 seeds - most since seeding began in 1979
23.3% probability of three #1 seeds in the Final Four
Three or more #1 seeds have made it four times since seeding began
19.4% probability of an Ohio State vs. Kansas final
The most likely championship game pairing
12.7% probability of #2 seed winning the championship
Six champs have been #2 seeds - second most since seeding began
10.4% probability of Duke and UNC meeting in the Final Four
Also known as "The Game That Must Not Be Named"
5.7% probability of all-Big Ten final (Ohio State vs. Wisconsin)
Would be the first since Indiana-Michigan in 1976
3.1% probability of #10 seed or lower winning
Villanova (#8 seed) in 1985 is the lowest seed to win the championship
1.2% probability of a rematch of last year's Duke/Butler championship game
A championship game rematch has not happened since 1961 and 1962 (Cincinnati defeated Ohio State both years)
0.7% probability of all-SEC final (Kentucky vs. Florida)
There has never been an all-SEC final, despite ten championships between three teams
0.4% probability of both remaining Big East teams making the Final Four
More likely, there is an 87% chance neither will
While Joe Sheehan's scenario is no longer possible, there are still enough non-Big Six conference teams left to make an impact on the Final Four. But how much impact will they make?
Probability of a non-major team in he Final Four by region
Southeast (BYU or Butler) - 32.4%
West (SDSU) - 31.2%
Southwest (Richmond or VCU) - 14.5%
Probability of three non-majors in the Final Four - 1.5%
Probability of no non-major Final Four teams - 39.8%
Probability of a non-major national champion - 8.9%
Hey, it could happen.