What The Numbers Say For The Chances of Iowa MBB and WBB in the NCAA Tournament

By RossWB on March 19, 2019 at 4:11 pm
go hawks go

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The statheads over at 538 have crunched the numbers for the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments to produce win probabilities for each game, as well as the odds of each team advancing into the tournament. How accurate are their numbers? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Let's just say these are for entertainment purposes only. 

Starting with the men's tournament... 

* First round: The model gives Iowa a 32% chance of knocking off Cincinnati in R1.

* Second round: This is where things get harder: the model gives Iowa just a 7% chance of making it to the Sweet 16. (Obviously those chances would look much better if Colgate manages to upset Tennessee in R1.)

* Sweet 16: The model gives Iowa a 3% chance of making it to the Elite 8. Should Iowa make it to the Sweet 16, odds are either Purdue or Villanova would snuff out their run. 

* Everything else: Iowa has less than 1% chance of advancing to the Final Four, the national championship game, or winning the entire thing. Which probably comes as no surprise to anyone. 

Things look much better in the women's tournament, though: 

* First round: the model gives Iowa  97% chance of beating Mercer in R1. 

* Second round: the model gives Iowa a 76% chance of beating either Missouri or Drake and advancing to the Sweet 16. 

* Sweet 16: the model gives Iowa a 42% chance of making it to the Elite 8, which is the highest of any team on the bottom half of the Greensboro regional. Iowa's odds are narrowly better than NC State's (40%). In fact, no other 3-seed has odds of making it to the Elite 8 as good as NC State's -- in the Chicago region, Stanford (2-seed) has a 56% chance of making the Elite 8, while Iowa State (3-seed) has a 25% chance; in the Portland region, Oregon (2-seed) has a 85% chance of making the Elite 8, while Syracuse (3-seed) has an 8% chance; and in the Albany region, UConn (2-seed) has an 88% chance of making the Elite 8, while Maryland (3-seed) has a 10% chance.

On some level that makes sense: based on the information the NCAA revealed a few weeks ago, Iowa was the last of the 2-seeds and NC State was considered the best of the 3-seeds, so they should be closely matched. Likewise, Oregon and UConn are considered the two best 2-seeds (it was a surprise that UConn wasn't a 1-seed) and Oregon at least is facing one of the weaker 3-seeds. (Maryland is the second-toughest 3-seed, I think.) Either way, it all adds up to the fact that Iowa has the weakest odds of any of the 2-seeds to make it to the Elite 8. Never tell us the odds, right?

* Elite 8: Iowa has a 7% chance of making the Final Four, which is hardly a shock. If they make the Elite 8, they'll be expected to face Baylor, the overall #1 seed in the bracket -- tough draw! For what it's worth, Stanford (set to face 1-seed Notre Dame) in the Elite 8, also has grim odds of making the Final Four (8%). Oregon (51%) and UConn (68%) have much better odds, in part because they're very good teams and in part because Mississippi State and Louisville are the weakest 1-seeds. 

* Final 4 and beyond: Iowa has a 2% chance of making the national title game, per this model, and a less than 1% chance of winning the national title. Still, you're saying there's a chance... 

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