The probability of chaos on championship week, 2016

Alabama, Clemson and Washington enter the weekend as big favorites over their conference championship foes. By my member numbers, here are their win probabilities:

  • Alabama has a 92.3% chance to beat Florida.
  • Clemson has a 79.9% chance to beat Virginia Tech.
  • Washington has a 72.2% chance to beat Colorado.

Still, it’s not out of the question they all lose. Assuming these games are statistically independent, you can determine this probability by multiplying the chances for the three teams to lose.

By my numbers, there’s a 0.4% chance that Alabama, Clemson and Washington all lose. Improbable but not impossible. This was about the same chance my numbers gave Clemson, Michigan and Washington to all lose in week 11 before it happened.

0.4% is also about the chance of drawing two Aces from a random deck of cards (1 in 221). Getting pocket Aces in poker is unlikely. However, any poker player has most likely had a night with multiple pocket Aces.

Don’t rule out the impossible.

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