Our Simulations Reveal Early March Madness Sleepers, Busts and Most Likely Champion


Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kansas Jayhawks guard Devon Dotson

  • March Madness is just around the corner, meaning it's time to start analyzing teams for the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
  • Using The Action Network simulations we determined the early, sleepers and busts bettors need to know, plus the most likely champion.

Selection Sunday is on March 15 and the First Four will tip the following Tuesday. We are a month away from the start of the NCAA Tournament.

With many casual fans just getting into college basketball, here is an early March Madness primer with the Cinderellas, sleepers and busts you need to know.

Using Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology to create the seedings, we simulated the NCAA Tournament 10,000 times using our Bracket Simulator, powered by Sean Koerner’s projections, to determine the most likely champion, as well as the teams that can make or break your bracket.

Sweet 16 Hopefuls

When you think of a Cinderella run, Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago come to mind. The Ramblers reached the Final Four as an 11-seed in 2019.

Which team will wear the glass slipper this year? These are Cinderella teams (double-digit seeds) with the best chance to reach the Sweet 16:

Purdue (14-12, 7-8 Big Ten): 27.5% chance

The Boilermakers have struggled to score this season, averaging 68.6 points per game (226th in the nation). But while Purdue has been inconsistent on offense, it’s still No. 20 overall in our power ratings.

The Boilermakers force the most turnovers of any Big Ten team and could give opposing offenses fits in the tournament.

Utah State (21-7, 10-5 MW): 15.4% chance

Utah State will only go as far as senior guard Sam Merrill takes them. Merrill leads the team in scoring at 18.6 points per game.

The Aggies stumbled a bit in early January but have won seven of eight, with five of those coming by double digits.

Virginia (17-7, 9-5 ACC): 12.7% chance

The defending champions are averaging 56.8 points per game – only three other teams in the country score fewer points. While the offense is lacking, UVA still plays defense like a true title contender.

Tony Bennett’s squad allows the second fewest points per game (52.0) and ranks fourth in defensive efficiency.

Final Four Sleepers

If you are going to win your bracket pool, you need to pick teams others are avoiding. Here are teams seeded fifth or worse with the best chance to reach the Final Four:

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