What are the odds?
Much like FiveThirtyEight after leaving the New York Times, our blog went dark until March. Fortunately, another March has brought another year of FiveThirtyEight NCAA tournament probabilities and with it our annual attempt to use those to calculate the probabilities of interesting results starting with the Sweet 16.
43.4% probability of a #1 seed winning the championship
20 champs have been #1 seeds - most since seeding began in 1979
9.7% probability of #2 seed winning the championship
Six champs have been #2 seeds - second most since seeding began
2.8% probability of #3 seed winning the championship
Five champs have been #3 seeds
29.4% probability of #4 seed winning the championship
The only #4 seed to win a title was Arizona in 1997. Louisville (16.8%) and Michigan State (8.0%) have non-trivial chances this season.
14.6% probability of #5 or lower seed winning the championship
Only three previous champions (#6 N.C. State 1983, #6 Kansas 1988, #8 Villanova 1985) were seeded 5th or lower.
9.3% probability of three #1 seeds in the Final Four
Three or more #1 seeds have made it four times since seeding began
13.9% probability of no #1 seeds in the Final Four
A #1-free Final Four has happened three times since seeding began (last in 2011)
9.9% probability of an Arizona vs. Florida final
The most likely championship game pairing
3.4% probability of a team from the play-in game first round in the Final Four
Tennessee has a chance to do what VCU also did in 2011 as an 11 seed.
3.3% probability of all-B1G championship game matchup
One Big Ten team has won the national championship in the last 24 seasons (2000 Michigan State)
1.4% probability of all three remaining B1G teams in the Final Four
The 1985 Final Four saw three teams from the Big East. No other conference can get three teams in the Final Four this season.
42.2% probability of no B1G teams in the Final Four
For completeness, the conference could also place two teams (13.8%) or one team (42.7%). Michigan State (32.2%) is the most likely to make it.
20.3% probability of two remaining SEC teams in the Final Four
The Pac 12 (15.0%), Big 10 (13.8%), AAC (9.1%), and Big 12 (2.3%) could also see two teams reach North Texas.
20.2% probability of a first-time national champion
Dayton, Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, San Diego State, and Tennessee have yet to cut down the last nets of the season. The other 10 schools have a combined 33 championships.
64.5% probability of a team from the state of Kentucky in the Final Four
Kentucky (15) and Louisville (10) have a combined 25 Final Four appearances.
35.6% probability of an Elite Eight rematch of last year's Louisville/Michigan championship game
19.2% probability of a Final Four rematch of the 2000 Michigan State/Florida championship game
14.2% probability of an Elite Eight rematch of the 1967 UCLA/Dayton championship game
8.8% probability of a Final Four rematch of the 1997 Arizona/Kentucky championship game
2.4% probability of a rematch of the 1980 Louisville/UCLA* championship game
UCLA and Louisville met three times in the Final Four (1972, 1975, 1980). Only one Final Four matchup has occurred more times (North Carolina and Kansas have met in four Final Fours).
2.3% probability of a Final Four rematch of the 1948 Baylor/Kentucky championship game
0.7% probability of a rematch of the 1965 UCLA/Michigan championship game
100% probability of a Sweet 16 rematch of the 2006 Florida/UCLA championship game