The Villanova Wildcats are a slight favourite to win the NCAA tournament, according to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model.
This year’s tournament appears to be wide open. Two years ago, undefeated Kentucky entered the tournament with a 41% chance to win it all. Last year, Kansas had about a 1-in-5 shot to win it all, at 19.1%. This year, no team is above 15% and there are seven teams with at least a 5% shot to cut down the nets in Glendale.
If we look at chances to reach the Final Four, things are a little different. Gonzaga is actually the team most likely to win their region. Silver’s model also has one minor upset, with Kentucky just a slight favourite over North Carolina to win the South regional.
Here are the favourites to make the Final Four, according to Silver’s model:
- Gonzaga (No. 1 seed, West region) — 41% chance to make Final Four
- Villanova (No. 1 seed, East) — 40% chance
- Kansas (No. 1 seed, Midwest) — 38% chance
- Kentucky (No. 2 seed, South) — 30% chance
Silver’s model rates each team using eight different systems, six computer models, and two human-generated ratings. Each team’s overall rating is then adjusted for injuries and travel distance during the tournament.
Meanwhile, Ken Pomeroy, a highly respected statistics-centric, college-basketball analyst, has Gonzaga as the top-rated team, followed by Villanova, North Carolina, and Louisville as the best teams in each of the other regions.
Here’s the bracket, from CBS (click here for a printable bracket):
Here are the Vegas odds to win it all. Duke is a slight betting favourite over UNC:
- Duke, 6/1
- North Carolina, 13/2
- Kansas, 17/2
- Kentucky, 17/2
- Villanova, 17/2
- Arizona, 10/1
- Gonzaga, 10/1
- UCLA, 12/1
- Louisville, 14/1
- Oregon, 25/1
- Florida, 30/1
- Florida State, 30/1
- Purdue, 30/1
- SMU, 30/1
- West Virginia, 35/1
- Virginia, 40/1
- Baylor, 50/1
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