Bracket Voodoo: Prediction engine says Arizona's the pick

The data is in, and Sean Miller and Arizona have the highest probability of winning it all. (USATSI)
The data is in, and Sean Miller and Arizona have the highest probability of winning it all. (USATSI)

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It’s finally here: March Madness 2014. And with the announcement of the 2014 bracket we have used the prediction engine to calculate the probability every team will win the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Here are our favorites to win the 2014 NCAA Tournament:

Arizona, despite a doubling of its season loss total in the last two weeks, is still the odds-on favorite to win it all. A week-and-a-half ago we gave them an 18.3% chance of winning it all, so the Wildcats' road has gotten a little harder, (and they’ve looked a lot less invincible over the last two weeks). Nonetheless, they are still the top ranked team in the power rankings, albeit just barely ahead of surging Louisville.

As we mentioned, Louisville, with an impressive run through the conference tourney, has moved up to become our #2 rated team, and are the second most likely team to win the tourney. The Cardinals are a historically strong #4 seed, and their road to the Final Four is helped by the fact that they would be a heavy favorite over St. Louis in a #4 vs. #5 second round matchup. In fact, despite their seed, Louisville has better a better chance to reach the Sweet Sixteen (74%) than Arizona (70%).

Florida, the number one overall seed, also gets some love in our projections, combining with Arizona and Louisville to form a clear triumvirate in our rankings and predictions, with the win probabilities of the each of these three teams almost doubling that of any other team. As opposed to the last couple of years where Kentucky (2012) and Louisville (2013) were clear favorites to win the tourney (and both did), this year there are essentially three co-favorites. As the national number one, Florida is likely to get the most love from the rest of the country, and in the next couple of days, we’ll discuss in this space what that could mean for your bracket.

Virginia has seen its stock rise the most over the last few days with an impressive run through the ACC tourney. Say what you will about how impressive the ACC is, but stumbles by the likes of Villanova, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Michigan helped Virginia grab a #1 seed, and this vaults them from the seventh-most likely team to grab the trophy (according to our estimates just three days ago) to fourth, at 7.3%.

Despite seeing its shot at a #1 seed disappear last week with the loss to Seton Hall, Villanova still comes in as the fifth-most likely team to win the championship, thanks in large part to the fact that the Wildcats are in the East and avoid a potential regional matchup versus Arizona, Louisville or Florida.

Wichita State is an interesting team. Despite having made the Final Four last year and going undefeated through the regular season this year, the Shockers are our lowest ranked #1 seed. But that’s what happens when you play a schedule devoid of RPI top 25 teams. The truth is, there's still a lot of uncertainty regarding how good Wichita State really is this year. Wichita could still be dangerous, but on balance it still looks like Louisville is the team to beat in the Midwest region.

Kansas comes in as our seventh-most likely team to win the title. The Jayhawks have a lot of uncertainty of their own, surrounding the absence of Joel Embiid, but our algorithms still give them a 61% chance of making the Sweet Sixteen without him. Nonetheless, the fact that their odds are as high as 4.6% hinges on the possibility that he could come back and be effective further down the road.

Michigan State, off the heels of a Big Ten conference tournament win, comes in as our highest-rated Big Ten team, leapfrogging Michigan and Wisconsin in the past couple of days. Behind these teams, Creighton, Duke, Michigan and Wisconsin round out the top twelve, each with more than a 3% chance of winning the tourney. Combined, these 12 teams have an 81% chance of winning it all, meaning that unless you are in a very large pool, there is a good chance you should be penciling in one of these 12 names to win in your bracket. In the next couple days we’ll dig a little deeper into which ones are the best picks for different types of pools. In the meantime, check out the advice on our website,, for more general tips on winning your pool.


Brad Null is the founder of, the world's most advanced NCAA Tournament bracket analysis and optimization engine. Try it out now at

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