Updated Simulations Reveal the Most Likely NCAA Tournament Winner

Updated Simulations Reveal the Most Likely NCAA Tournament Winner article feature image

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The college basketball season started in November with 351 teams competing for a championship. Five months later we’re down to four. Villanova, Kansas, Michigan and Loyola-Chicago will meet in San Antonio for the right to cut down the nets. Which Final Four team is the most likely to win it all?


To find out, we simulated the Final Four 10,000 times using our Bracket Simulator, and here are our predictions:

A Predictable Final Four?

This year’s NCAA Tournament has been full of unbelievable upsets, highlighted by Final Four participant Loyola-Chicago. The No. 11 seed won its first three tournament games by a combined four points before dominating Kansas State in the Elite Eight – all as betting underdogs. Those hoping the madness continues in San Antonio will likely be disappointed. According to the simulations run at BetLabsSports.com, this year’s Final Four is lopsided:

Villanova and Michigan are projected to win their respective matchups 70.0% of the time. Kansas and Loyola fans will surely think the model’s predictions are off, but they are in line with the betting market. The Wildcats opened as -220 moneyline favorites over the Jayhawks and the Wolverines -240 against the Ramblers. At -220, the implied probability of a Nova win is 68.8%, and for Michigan the odds suggest they advance 70.6% of the time.

The most likely championship game is Villanova vs. Michigan, which occurs 49.0% of the time over 10,000 simulations. There is only a 9.0% chance we see Kansas-Loyola next Monday.

Cutting Down the Nets

This year’s tournament lacked a dominant team, until now. Villanova is a clear favorite to win a second title in three years. The Wildcats have the most efficient offense in the country, averaging 87.0 points per game and are balanced, ranking 13th in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency – the only team left to rank in the top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Nova is projected to beat Michigan 66.1% of the time in the most likely title game and has a 50.9% chance to win the championship.

The Wolverines have the next best odds at 26.4%, followed by Kansas (17.2%) and Loyola-Chicago (5.5%).

Pictured: Villanova celebrating a win over Texas Tech