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    Bracket Analysis (02/24/16)

    By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
    A look at what the men's college basketball tournament could look like through 50,000 simulations of Bracketology.

    See: How it Works, a Tournament Summary and Regional Previews: South, West, East and Midwest.

    How it Works

    The Predictalator uses current rosters and strength-of-schedule and pace-adjusted team and player stats (weighted slightly more toward recent games), to play, one possession at a time, every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. For this analysis, we are tracking how likely a team is to make it to any level of the NCAA Tournament. Each tournament is played individually, with the team that wins the game in that instance advancing. See the Bracket Odds and Predictalated Bracket.

    Tournament Summary

    Which conference is the best in college basketball? One measuring stick is how many teams each league sends to the Big Dance. We will get the answer on Selection Sunday but who wants to wait that long?

    Simulation of the rest of the season we can project the likelihood of a team making the tournament (through a combination of chances of qualifying automatically with a conference win and making it as an at-large).

    How many teams will each conference send to the Big Dance?

    Note: Below are the teams from power conferences with at least a 50 percent chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament.


    The ACC owned the 2015-16 NCAA Tournament. Five of the league's teams reached the Sweet 16, three advanced to the Elite Eight and Duke won it all. The ACC went 17-5 as a conference, the second best record in tournament history. After a strong showing last year some believed the conference could send as many as ten teams to the tournament in 2016. That was probably an unrealistic dream.

    If the tourney started today Lunardi would have seven teams from the ACC dancing. However, only five teams (Duke, Miami, UNC, Notre Dame and Virginia) are greater than 90 percent likely to receive an invite and Syracuse is the only other team with better than a 50 percent chance of making the tournament.

    Pittsburgh (41.3 percent) currently a 9-seed, Florida State (20.8 percent), Clemson (12.6 percent) is part of the “Next Out” and Georgia Tech (10.6%) have work to do if they are to be included in the field.

    On average 6.5 teams make the tournament from the ACC.

    Team Chance of Making Tournament
    Duke Blue Devils 99.9%
    Miami (FL) Hurricanes 99.9%
    North Carolina Tar Heels 99.9%
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish 99.9%
    Virginia Cavaliers 99.9%
    Syracuse Orange 57.5%

    Big East

    The Big East is top heavy. Villanova is the best team in the country and Xavier is having its best regular season ever (24-3, 12-3), but the rest of the league is full of good but not great teams. Seton Hall, Creighton and Butler are the only other teams that rank inside the top 50 of our Power Rankings.

    Five squads have at least a 50 percent chance of being one of the tournaments 68 teams, but only the Wildcats and Musketeers have better than a 75 percent chance (strong probability) of making the tournament. Creighton (17-10, 8-6) is a longshot with a 25.6 percent chance of receiving an invite.

    On average 4.0 teams make the tournament from the Big East.

    Team Chance of Making Tournament
    Villanova Wildcats 99.9%
    Xavier Musketeers 99.9%
    Seton Hall Pirates 69.5%
    Butler Bulldogs 53.0%
    Providence Friars 50.3%

    Big 12

    Best conference in college basketball? Perhaps. Kansas, West Virginia and Oklahoma are inside the top 10 of our Power Rankings. Five teams are in the top 25, eight of the ten teams are in the top 50 and only TCU is truly bad, ranking outside the top 100.

    The Big 12 is attempting to send 70 percent of its member schools to the Big Dance. Six teams from the league have greater than a 90 percent chance of receiving a bid, the most of any power conference. Texas Tech, with wins over Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor, is likely to be the seventh team. Even Kansas State, just two games over .500, has better than a one-in-five chance of making a sixth straight tourney appearance.

    On average 6.8 teams make the tournament from the Big 12.

    Team Chance of Making Tournament
    Iowa State Cyclones 99.9%
    Kansas Jayhawks 99.9%
    Oklahoma Sooners 99.9%
    Texas Longhorns 99.9%
    West Virginia Mountaineers 99.9%
    Baylor Bears 96.6%
    Texas Tech Red Raiders 66.1%

    Big Ten

    The Big Ten doesn't get any respect. The ACC has the No. 1 team in the country and the Big 12 is widely considered the deepest in college basketball, but the Big Ten might end up with the most teams in the field.

    Write them in ink; Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue will be in your bracket. Wisconsin (53.6 percent) an 8-seed and Michigan (43.0 percent) a 10-seed could be as well. There are 10 teams from the conference with at least a one percent chance of still playing when the postseason tips off.

    On average 6.1 teams make the tournament from the Big Ten.

    Team Chance of Making Tournament
    Indiana Hoosiers 99.9%
    Iowa Hawkeyes 99.9%
    Maryland Terrapins 99.9%
    Michigan State Spartans 99.9%
    Purdue Boilermakers 99.9%
    Wisconsin Badgers 53.6%


    There are no bubble teams in the Pac-12. At least that is how we see it. Unlike the other major conferences, no team is a coin flip from making it. Five squads, Arizona, Oregon, Cal, Utah and USC, are in.

    Colorado, currently a 10-seed in the most recent Bracketology, has less than a 30 percent chance of keeping its bid. Washington (8.1 percent) and Oregon State (8.8 percent) are part of the “Next Out” and will likely stay on the outside looking in.

    On average 5.3 teams make the tournament from the Pac-12.

    Team Chance of Making Tournament
    Arizona Wildcats 99.9%
    Oregon Ducks 99.9%
    California Golden Bears 91.1%
    Utah Runnin' Utes 89.7%
    USC Trojans 86.3%


    This is the conference with the greatest range in possible number of tourney teams. Kentucky and Texas A&M are in but the rest of league is firmly on the bubble.

    Florida as an 8-seed in Lunardi's bracket, has a 75.3 percent chance of making the tournament. However, the Gators just dropped a home game to Vanderbilt reducing its profile. South Carolina (a 7-seed) has bad conference losses (Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri). The Gamecocks (60.2 percent) can't afford to drop any of its remaining four games against teams outside the top 80. Vandy, part of Lunardi's “First Four Out”, just got a solid road win over Florida but the Commodores are 50/50 at best. Alabama is currently in the Play-In game as a 12-seed, but we don't see the Crimson Tide getting an invite. LSU has Ben Simmons but not much else and as part of the “Next Out”, the Tigers have just a 14.5 percent chance of finding their way to the tournament.

    On average 4.3 teams make the tournament from the SEC.

    Team Chance of Making Tournament
    Kentucky Wildcats 99.9%
    Texas A&M Aggies 99.9%
    Florida Gators 75.3%
    South Carolina Gamecocks 60.2%
    Vanderbilt Commodores 53.5%

    South Region

    Most Likely Final Four team: Iowa (25.5%)

    Final Four Sleeper: Oregon (10.4%)

    Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Syracuse (17.8% to make Sweet 16)

    Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 21.1%

    First Round Upset: #10 Syracuse over #7 Providence (61.5%)

    Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, #9 UConn over #8 Wisconsin (59.2%)

    West Region

    Most Likely Final Four team: Virginia (36.1%)

    Final Four Sleeper: Notre Dame (13.9%)

    Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Valparaiso (14.5% to make to Sweet 16)

    Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 25.7%

    First Round Upset: #9 VCU over #8 Texas Tech (53.3%)

    Closest First Round Game: In addition to the game above, #5 Indiana over #12 Valparaiso (58.0%)

    East Region

    Most Likely Final Four team: Villanova (37.4%)

    Final Four Sleeper: Iowa State (9.8%)

    Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Butler (11.2% to make Sweet 16)

    Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 31.4%

    First Round Upset: none

    Closest First Round Game: #7 California over #10 Seton Hall (52.6%)

    Midwest Region

    Most Likely Final Four team: Kansas (34.6%)

    Final Four Sleeper: Arizona (15.5%)

    Cinderella (double-digit seeds going deep): Monmouth (14.0% likely to make Sweet 16)

    Chance NCAA Champion is from Region: 21.8%

    First Round Upset: None

    Closest First Round Game: #7 South Carolina over #10 Colorado (52.2%)

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