Top of the Morning, March 15, 2014

In Monday's News-Gazette, we will publish an NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket. To help you fill it out, we've enlisted the UI's bracketologist: Sheldon Jacobson. To those on campus, he's known as a computer science professor. To those trying to determine if Wichita State will reach the Final Four, he's a data-generating lifesaver. Jacobson has a website (BracketOdds) and a popular online partner (Bleacher Report is using his stuff this weekend) to prove it.

This being Selection Sunday Eve, there's no better time to hook up with our No. 1 numbers guy.

First, the bad news. None of us is going to win $1 billion from Warren Buffet. The odds against someone picking a perfect 68-team bracket: more than 147 quintillion to 1. Here's more from Jacobson:

Where are you going to watch the pairings show?

At home, with a pencil and computer nearby.

I have Kansas winning it all. Am I right?

We will know on April 7.

Based on your calculations, how many No. 1 seeds are going to make the Final Four?

It is over eight times more likely for a Final Four to contain zero No. 1 seeds than it is to contain four No. 1 seeds. Picking one or two No. 1 seeds in the Final Four is prudent.

What does your research say about Wichita State?

If they are a No. 1 seed, they are positioned to make a run to the Elite 8. After that, it is a tossup. Of course, approximately once every other year, a No. 1 loses in the second round (remember Gonzaga last year). And over 40 percent of the tournaments, a No. 1 does not even reach the Elite Eight (remember Michigan State in 2012). That being said, being a No. 1 is better than NOT being a No. 1.

Any chance a double-digit seed reaches the Final Four?

Low odds, but not ridiculous. (For example) the odds against one or more No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four are 679 to 1. The odds against one or more No. 10 through No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four are 16 to 1.

Has John Groce asked you to draw up a play for the Illini?

I think he has me on speed dial.

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