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So the same guy that predicted all but 1 state in the last 2 presidential elections, is putting his statistical excellence to the test on a subject we really care about, the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament..  Nate Silver, statistical genius, acclaimed author, and founder of the FiveThirtyEight blog has created an algorithm to predict the NCAA Tournament and posted it to his site. On the site, you can track the odds of every team progressing throughout the entire tournament.  His model, which is actually in it’s fourth year, takes into account a combination of all the potential match-ups a team can face as well as 5 of the most used computer rankings for mens college basketball:

  • Ken Pomeroy’s ratings
  • Jeff Sagarin’s “predictor” ratings
  • Sonny Moore’s ratings
  • Joel Sokol’s LRMC ratings
  • ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, a new addition this year

So I bet you’re wondering who does Silver and the 538 give the highest likelihood of winning the tournament?  Well here’s his top 8 most likely to win and their percentage chance of winning:

  1. Louisville – 15%
  2. Florida – 14%
  3. Arizona – 13%
  4. Kansas – 6%
  5. Virginia – 6%
  6. Michigan St. – 6%
  7. Duke – 5%
  8. Wichita St. – 5%

So there it is, if you’re betting on a team to win the tournament, Louisville seems to be the play.  However, if you’re trying to pick the best bracket, selecting the winner isn’t always as important as picking the most likely final 4.  Take a look at the upper half of Silver’s prediction table to see what I mean (MSU actually has a higher likelihood than Kansas of making the final 4 but not of winning the tournament).

If you think Silver may be out of his league forecasting sports instead of politics, just keep in mind that before Silver ever got into the politics game, he developed PECOTA, a career development forecasting tool for MLB prospects that he sold to Baseball Prospectus in 2003 that is still used by scouts and analysts today.  Oh yea, and ESPN just bought The Five Three Eight, so apparently they think he knows something about sports too.  Silver is nothing short of a predictive genius, and before I fill out my bracket I’m going to make sure I spend some time analyzing this table.

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