2015 Tournament Overview

Midwest

The first two rounds of the Midwest look to be the most interesting of any region.  We have 11 seed Texas as 56% likely to pull off the upset over 6 seed Butler and the Longhorns have a decent chance to advance over Notre Dame in the 2nd round.  Buffalo is the 12 seed to watch this tournament — their game against West Virginia is nearly a tossup, and Buffalo is the only 12 seed we show as having a reasonable chance to make the Sweet 16 (19.2%).

In the later rounds of the Midwest, Kansas is not much better than a tossup against Notre Dame in the 3rd round, and Butler has an outside shot if they survive Texas.  Kentucky is far and away the safest pick for a regional champion.

West

Ohio State is our most likely upset of the first round this year, with a 70% chance of beating 7 seed VCU.  Oklahoma State has the best chance among 9 seeds to win a game, and 6 seed Xavier is barely even money against the BYU / Ole Miss play-in winner.

Wisconsin and Arizona have reasonably clear paths to the regional finals, with only UNC and Baylor likely to give them any kind of test.  We have Wisconsin as 44% likely to win the region, with Arizona close behind at 30%.

East

The East region will likely be light on upsets in the first round, with only 6 seed Providence at a high risk of falling to the Boise State / Dayton winner.  In the second round, Louisville is even matched again Northern Iowa in a pairing of 4 and 5 seeds.  Oklahoma is unlikely to see a test while advancing to the Sweet 16.

Villanova and Virginia have very good chances to advance, and we show that Virginia is a slight favorite to advance, and has the best chance among 2 seeds to reach the Final Four and the championship game.

South

No upsets are likely in the first round of the South – all the 5, 6, 7, and 8 seeds are all decent favorites according to our model.  5 seed Utah is a solid favorite to advance to the Sweet 16.

The later rounds of the South are a different story. Duke is the 1 seed at most risk in our model and has no better than a 1 in 3 chance to win its region, and 3 seed Iowa State has a chance to muddy the waters in the regional semis. Gonzaga and Utah will both be in the mix for the regional title.

Final Four

Virginia, Villanova, and Duke are all solid contenders to advance to the title game. Kentucky may face its toughest test in the semifinals against Wisconsin — the 2nd most likely to win according to our model.  Arizona also has a reasonable outside chance to advance.

All that said, Kentucky is the prohibitive favorite to win the championship this year.



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