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    Life Without Kentucky (02/11/15)

    By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
    What would the NCAA Tournament look like without Kentucky?



    There is a chance that this year's Kentucky Wildcats team could be the best in college basketball history.

    John Calipari's squad is undefeated (24-0); its average margin of victory has been by more than 20 points and by double-digits in conference play. Kentucky has defeated four ranked opponents, three of which were ranked in the top ten at the time.

    No other program in the nation can match the talent or depth of the Wildcats roster. Kentucky features nine McDonalds All-Americans. The Cats dominate opponents with their height/length. Coach Cal's frontcourt is taller on average than every NBA team's frontcourt except Portland.

    You might be saying to yourself that a spotless record and a boatload of talent does not guarantee a championship but in this case it might.

    When we simulated Joe Lunardi's Bracketology, Kentucky wins the 2015 NCAA Tournament a whopping 29.7% of the time. To put this in perspective, the 2012 Kentucky National Championship team was only projected to win the tournament 21.0% of the time, and that was the most significant favorite we have seen in five years of simulating the tournament.

    It's called March Madness for a reason, Kentucky could stumble and be knocked out of the tournament, though that result is improbable. With the Cats such a dominant force in our bracket simulations, what would the NCAA Tournament look like without Kentucky?

    To find out, we removed the Wildcats and seeded each team in Lunardi's Bracketology one seed higher. In this new simulation Wisconsin becomes a No. 1 seed, Louisville becomes a No. 2 seed and so on. St. John's, currently noted as the first team out, would become a No. 11 seed.

    After 50,000 simulations, the most likely national champion is Gonzaga. The Bulldogs win it all 13.2% of the time, a stark difference between the supremacy shown by Kentucky when the Wildcats participate in the tournament.

    A tournament without Kentucky is wide open. Without Calipari's bunch, sixteen teams have at least a one percent chance of winning the national title. Seven teams have at least a seven percent or greater chance to win, up from just four with the Cats involved. Only eighteen teams in the field do not see their odds improve because they still have a zero percent chance to win.

    Without Kentucky the NCAA Tournament would look a lot like last year's Big Dance, where the favorite was just ten percent likely to win and the eventual champion had less than a one percent chance to survive the madness. Parity would reign supreme and the probability of a title game featuring a seventh and eighth seed would become more likely.

    The NCAA Tournament may be more exciting without Kentucky but the Wildcats have more than earned an opportunity to play for the National Championship.

    Bracket Odds (based on 2015 NCAA Tournament without Kentucky played 50,000 times):
    Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
    South 1 Duke - 87.0% 60.3% 39.7% 25.1% 14.7% 8.0%
    South 16 N. Fla. 55.1% 8.0% 2.2% 0.4% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
    South 16 Colgate 44.9% 5.0% 1.1% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    South 8 Iowa - 51.3% 19.2% 8.5% 3.1% 1.1% 0.3%
    South 9 Stanford - 48.7% 17.2% 7.5% 2.6% 0.7% 0.3%
    South 5 VCU - 62.8% 26.1% 10.4% 4.1% 1.4% 0.5%
    South 12 Miami (FL) 49.9% 18.4% 5.8% 1.9% 0.5% 0.1% 0.0%
    South 12 Illinois 50.2% 18.8% 6.0% 1.7% 0.4% 0.1% 0.0%
    South 4 Baylor - 75.6% 53.0% 27.1% 14.2% 7.1% 3.4%
    South 13 W&M - 24.4% 9.1% 2.7% 0.6% 0.2% 0.1%
    South 6 Georgetown - 57.6% 18.4% 8.1% 2.9% 0.9% 0.4%
    South 11 LSU - 42.5% 11.3% 4.2% 1.2% 0.4% 0.1%
    South 3 Utah - 86.2% 65.8% 44.2% 26.3% 15.4% 7.7%
    South 14 New Mexico St. - 13.8% 4.4% 1.1% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0%
    South 7 Cincinnati - 51.9% 20.3% 6.5% 2.2% 0.6% 0.2%
    South 10 Dayton - 48.1% 17.4% 5.6% 1.9% 0.5% 0.1%
    South 2 Louisville - 84.5% 57.8% 29.5% 14.5% 7.0% 3.0%
    South 15 High Point - 15.5% 4.4% 0.8% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
    Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
    East 1 Virginia - 90.8% 70.3% 53.5% 35.4% 21.2% 11.8%
    East 16 St. Francis (NY) - 9.2% 1.9% 0.4% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    East 8 Texas - 53.6% 15.5% 8.3% 3.3% 1.3% 0.5%
    East 9 Michigan St. - 46.4% 12.3% 5.5% 2.4% 0.7% 0.2%
    East 5 Butler - 57.1% 30.2% 10.6% 4.4% 1.7% 0.6%
    East 12 SFA - 42.9% 20.9% 5.8% 2.4% 0.8% 0.2%
    East 4 N. Iowa - 69.4% 38.4% 13.7% 6.4% 2.4% 0.9%
    East 13 Bowling Green - 30.6% 10.5% 2.2% 0.7% 0.2% 0.1%
    East 6 Arkansas - 60.4% 28.5% 10.4% 3.6% 1.2% 0.4%
    East 11 Tulsa - 39.6% 14.4% 4.0% 1.0% 0.3% 0.1%
    East 3 Iowa St. - 69.4% 44.0% 20.8% 9.3% 3.9% 1.6%
    East 14 Louisiana Tech - 30.6% 13.1% 3.5% 0.9% 0.3% 0.1%
    East 7 Oklahoma St. - 65.4% 23.3% 12.2% 4.4% 1.5% 0.5%
    East 10 Colorado St. - 34.6% 9.1% 3.4% 0.9% 0.2% 0.0%
    East 2 Villanova - 88.1% 64.4% 44.9% 25.0% 14.1% 7.0%
    East 15 Albany - 12.0% 3.3% 0.8% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
    Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
    West 1 Gonzaga - 89.3% 72.1% 52.9% 33.2% 21.2% 13.2%
    West 16 Sacramento St. - 10.7% 2.2% 0.4% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
    West 8 Georgia - 48.1% 12.4% 5.2% 1.6% 0.6% 0.1%
    West 9 San Diego St. - 51.9% 13.4% 6.0% 2.1% 0.7% 0.3%
    West 5 Maryland - 64.6% 22.2% 6.3% 1.9% 0.8% 0.2%
    West 12 Wofford - 35.4% 8.4% 1.5% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0%
    West 4 Oklahoma - 75.0% 57.4% 25.2% 13.3% 7.4% 3.5%
    West 13 Harvard - 25.0% 12.0% 2.5% 0.7% 0.2% 0.0%
    West 6 Ohio State - 66.7% 34.1% 14.6% 6.0% 2.4% 1.1%
    West 11 Temple - 33.3% 12.1% 3.3% 0.8% 0.2% 0.0%
    West 3 Notre Dame - 68.2% 42.2% 22.7% 11.6% 6.1% 3.1%
    West 14 UC Davis - 31.8% 11.6% 2.9% 0.8% 0.3% 0.1%
    West 7 SMU - 59.5% 18.9% 8.5% 3.0% 1.1% 0.4%
    West 10 Texas A&M - 40.5% 10.4% 4.0% 1.1% 0.4% 0.1%
    West 2 Arizona - 87.7% 67.0% 43.3% 23.4% 14.0% 7.8%
    West 15 UNC-Central - 12.3% 3.7% 0.8% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
    Region Seed Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd Sweet 16 Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Champ.
    Midwest 1 Wisconsin - 90.4% 63.5% 46.9% 32.2% 19.5% 12.5%
    Midwest 16 ND St. 58.3% 6.5% 1.4% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
    Midwest 16 Texas Southern 41.8% 3.2% 0.6% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Midwest 8 Xavier - 51.9% 18.1% 9.1% 4.2% 1.5% 0.5%
    Midwest 9 Mississippi - 48.1% 16.4% 8.2% 3.7% 1.2% 0.5%
    Midwest 5 W. Va. - 62.9% 31.4% 10.4% 4.5% 1.4% 0.4%
    Midwest 12 Murray St. - 37.1% 14.6% 4.2% 1.4% 0.3% 0.1%
    Midwest 4 Wichita St. - 65.4% 39.9% 15.8% 8.2% 3.1% 1.2%
    Midwest 13 Iona - 34.6% 14.1% 5.0% 1.6% 0.3% 0.1%
    Midwest 6 Providence - 52.2% 19.3% 7.5% 2.5% 0.7% 0.2%
    Midwest 11 Old Dominion 41.7% 17.8% 5.7% 1.9% 0.5% 0.1% 0.0%
    Midwest 11 St. John's 58.4% 30.0% 11.2% 4.7% 1.7% 0.5% 0.1%
    Midwest 3 UNC - 75.1% 52.5% 29.7% 14.8% 6.5% 3.0%
    Midwest 14 Valparaiso - 24.9% 11.3% 3.6% 1.0% 0.2% 0.1%
    Midwest 7 Indiana - 57.5% 25.9% 12.4% 5.1% 1.8% 0.6%
    Midwest 10 Seton Hall - 42.5% 14.0% 5.4% 1.7% 0.4% 0.1%
    Midwest 2 Kansas - 86.5% 56.6% 34.3% 16.6% 7.1% 3.1%
    Midwest 15 UL-Monroe - 13.5% 3.5% 0.7% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0%

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