Thursday, March 22, 2012

Visualizing the NCAA Tournament: Sweet Sixteen

Let's take an updated look at the NCAA tournament odds we updated this past Saturday.

Not much has changed here. The Buckeyes remain the clear favorites in this region, although the winner of the Syracuse/Wisconsin game awaits. The numbers give the Buckeyes the third-best chance to win it all; it's probably even better than that given that UNC has the second-best chance, but that was before Kendall Marshall fractured his wrist. Those take several weeks to heal, so while he might be back over the weekend he won't be at 100% by any stretch. Look for a Syracuse/Ohio State Elite Eight, and an Ohio State Final Four.

The raw numbers here point to a Kansas Final Four, but there's an intriguing possibility: an North Carolina State Final Four. Kansas has been anything but invincible, and the Wolfpack took UNC down to the wire in the ACC tournament two weeks ago. If NC State can get past Kansas, there's a good chance they could find themselves in the Final Four.

This bracket is [still] Kentucky's to lose. Indiana and Baylor are good teams, but provided the Wildcats can keep doing what they've been doing they're unlikely to be seriously challenged until the Final Four.

As I said in the round of 32 summary, Michigan State would need to get past St. Louis to reclaim the mantle of "favorite." Even now, though, Florida has a good chance of making it to the Final Four. Michigan State has been far from dominant, and looks to be the second top seed that's likely to slip up.

"By the numbers" Final Four projection: Kentucky, UNC, Ohio State, Michigan State.

"Fun" Final Four projection: Kentucky, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Florida.

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