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NCAA Tournament March Madness Predictions and Probabilities

NCAA Tournament March Madness Predictions and Probabilities
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SportsGrid 2019 NCAA Tournament March Madness Predictions and Probabilities

The All Singing, All Dancing, 2019 NCAA Tournament March Madness Bracket Buster

By Arturo Galletti

Let’s set the stage:

Welcome to my eighth annual all-signing, all-dancing NCAA men’s basketball tournament preview. We’ll walk through March Madness predictions and probabilities for each region and your bracket! For those of you who are joining us for the first time welcome! Here are the highlights by year if you’re interested:

2012: When had Kentucky and the Brow (and was right!)

2013: When I had Louisville and coach Pitino (and went 2 for 2)

2014: WhenI had Louisville again (and finally lost one to a UConn team at 6.9% to win)

2015: When I had Kentucky and the win

2016: Where I can’t locate any information from Arturo 🙂

2017: Heh

2018: Was a bit rough because of Virginia but it did solidly otherwise

The point to be made is that if you want to win your bracket pool? Arturo is your hookup.

So how does the magic get made?

  • Take all the Major Ratings (SagarinKen PomeroySonny Moore)
  • Build your own Ratings by downloading all the games (Thanks to RealGMfor having an awesome site!).
  • Build a comprehensive model to evaluate NCAA players (which is also a very good draft predictor).
  • Work out adjusted point margins (for injuries and schedule) for each team and each rating as well as a composite. Makes a really cool poster:

2019 NCAA Tournament March Madness Power Rankings

Our March Madness Predictions for each region:

  • Duke is a 50 percent favorite to win the East Region followed closely by Michigan State at 28.6 percent.
  • Virginia is the largest favorite to advance to the final four and win the South Region at nearly 56 percent followed by Tennessee and Purdue with 14 percent odds respectively.
  • Gonzaga is our favorite to win the West Region followed by Michigan at 17.7 percent.
  • North Carolina (40.4 percent to win the Midwest Region) is the weakest favorite with Kentucky (21.1 percent) one of the strongest #2 seeds.

Some of our March Madness predictions, sleepers and busts include:

  • 15 or 16 Seed Giant Slayer? Our march madness predictions give only a 22.8 percent chance of a 15 or 16 seed pulling off the unthinkable. Tennessee and Michigan are the most vulnerable two-seeds and biggest potential busts but still have 93 percent odds to win their respective games.
  • 12 Seed Magic? Our march madness predictions have Liberty (22.4 percent), Oregon (31 percent), New Mexico State (27.3 percent) and Murray State (35.9 percent) this year all favored to low but with Murray State and Oregon the biggest 12-seed sleepers. In total, these probabilities add up to a win probability of 1.17 expected wins. Our prediction is one 12-seed pulls off the upset and we think its more likely that there will be two upsets than zero! If you are MMEing 🙂 March Madness and looking to pick upsets consider picking exactly one 12-seed upset.
  • Auburn is the biggest sleeper to make a run at the Elite Eight (21.7 percent) or Final Four (11.7 percent) of any team outside of the top three seeds. Florida (5.9 percent to ELITE EIGHT) is our march madness prediction for the biggest double-digit seeded sleeper who could make a surprising run.
  • If you are looking for a three-seed that could bust Louisiana State has just a 45.9 percent chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and is favored for an early exit.

Pretty awesome no? It’s a lot of numbers. Let’s turn it into information, specifically odds.

The composite model is torn between Virginia, Duke and Gonzaga. It’s easier to see on this table:

Virginia again has the softer path to the Championship (like last year which ended poorly) so the model has them winning the tournament 22.6% of the time. The tricky bit is that Duke is the better team because they have a healthy Zion. In fact, the default bracket has them winning it all.


Check out our composite march madness predictions and bracket below:

The trick is that Duke’s path takes them thru team 3 and 4 on my composite rank (Gonzaga and Michigan State).

Now comes the payoff. Take all that, put it together, and make a customizable bracket-generating spreadsheet that you can download by clicking right here:

NCAA 2019 Tourney Super Cheat Sheet

The sheet has six tabs:

  • Instructions (with illustrations!)
  • The PlayIn tab (so you can pick the play in winners)
  • The Adjustable, Printable NCAA Bracket
  • All the Ratings for every Division 1 school
  • The Ratings just for teams in the Tournament (by region)
  • The Lookup Table

To build your bracket you need to:

  • Pick the PlayIn winners
  • Go to the Bracket tab
  • Select your Model (cell E3). The Sheet will adjust to pick the favorite based on the model chosen.
  • Disagree with a pick? For every matchup, you can select your winner (the cell that contains either Tm1 or Tm2- pick one)
  • Once you’re done, print your bracket.
  • Profit!

Because I’m nice, the Tm fields will change colors when you pick Team2, and the odds will change to red when you pick an upset.

So if I wanted to do a crazy bracket, it would look like so:


We also have a single game march madness game predictor that can be referenced below.

Have FUN and let’s win some pools.

-Arturo (@AmericanNumbers)