Which team will win the NCAA tournament in 2016?
It’s anyone’s guess with the parity in college basketball this season.
Villanova tops my college basketball rankings with a rating of 17.3, which gives an expected margin of victory against an average Division I team. At the end of last season, five teams had a higher rating than the 17.3 of Villanova.
The lack of dominant teams in college basketball makes it difficult to predict the tournament this season. Based on ESPN’s February 29th bracket projection, I calculated the win probability for each team.
You can play with the numbers for each team in this interactive visual, but this list gives the tourney win probability for the top 10 teams.
1. Villanova, 18.1%.
2. Virginia, 14.2%.
3. North Carolina, 12.7%.
4. Kansas, 10.7%.
5. Oklahoma, 9.0%.
6. Michigan State, 6.8%.
7. Miami (FL), 3.9%.
8. Xavier, 3.5%.
9. Iowa, 3.2%.
10. Duke, 3.1%.
The top 5 teams have a total probability of 64.7%. Last season, when Kentucky entered the tournament undefeated, the top 5 teams had 81.2% of the total probability.
March Madness will be even nuttier this season, especially since there’s a big reason Villanova most likely won’t win the tournament.
I’ll be writing about that reason as the Selection Sunday approaches. To stay up to date with my March Madness content, sign up for my free email newsletter. You’ll get a sample of my bracket advice the week before the tourney.
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Sam Blackman says
Your new display is great.I have also developed a Monte Carlo sim for the NCAA tournament and computed probabilities. I used the ratings from Sagarin’s web site, assumed a random noise sigma for each game of 11 points and an uncertainty sigma for the assumed ratings of 4 points (may be too large but seemed to give most reasonable results). I also compared your results and mine with those given by the service TeamRankings. The results are quite sensitive to the assumed initial ratings. Both Sagarin and TeamRankings assume significantly higher(relative to Villanova) ratings for Kansas, Michigan State and Duke with c0rresponding differences in probabilities. Relative to Villanova the Sagarin ratings for these teams are respectively=(0.3 0.8 and -2.6) and for TeamRatings=(1.4, 1.2 and -0.8), while yours=(-0.7,-1.2 and -3.1). The resulting tourney probs. for Villanova and the other top ten teams that you give are
Team Your prob. Mine using Sagarin TeamRankings
1. Villanova 18.1 14.7 8.9
2.Virginia 14.2 9.6 6.7
3.North Car. 12.7 10.6 7.7
4.Kansas 10.7 15.1 13.1
5.Oaklahoma 9.0 7.1 5.4
6.Mich. St. 6.8 16.5 11.5
7.Miami 3.9 3.6 3.4
8.Xavier 3.5 2.2 2.1
9.Iowa 3.2 0.7 1.5
10. Duke 3.1 3.0 5.9
I think that this just illustrates how tight the tournament will be and that small changes in assumed ratings can make significant changes in the computed tourney win probs. I would suggest that you try running your program with Sagarin’s ratings. Finally, it will be interesting to see what the Vegas odds will be.
Dr. Ed Feng says
Thanks for the analysis. Surprised that Michigan St is so high in Sagarin, but that’s probably right.
Jeff Taylor says
I am sure that I am being dense here, but I am not following the percentages of winning for the top 10 teams above against the interactive visual. On the interactive visual it looks like Villanova has an 8.9% chance of winning, whereas above you listed 18.1%. Kansas is 18.4% vs. 10.7% above. What am I missing? Thanks!
1. Villanova, 18.1%. (8.9)
2. Virginia, 14.2%. (14.3)
3. North Carolina, 12.7%. (16.9)
4. Kansas, 10.7%. (18.4)
5. Oklahoma, 9.0%. (8.7)
6. Michigan State, 6.8%. (10.2)
7. Miami (FL), 3.9%. (1.5)
8. Xavier, 3.5%. (1.4)
9. Iowa, 3.2%. (1.2)
10. Duke, 3.1%. (1.7)
Dr. Ed Feng says
The numbers you’re looking at in the article are from a bracket projection in early March. The visual has now been updated with the actual bracket.