So far, so (pretty) good for the Whatifsports.com computer that simulated the NCAA Tournament 10,000 times. The WhatIfSports bracket accurately predicted seven of the original most likely Elite Eight teams (just missed Georgetown) and all of the Final Four teams to currently rank in the 99th percentile in FOXSports.com's Bracket Challenge game. Better yet, when the games were re-simulated last week leading up to the Sweet 16, the computer had Davidson, Louisville, Texas and Xavier winning their next games, which means the computer went 12 for 12 picking winners from that point on.
Who does the computer like the rest of the way?
WhatIfSports.com again used its acclaimed college basketball simulation technology to forecast the future by simulating the Final Four of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament 10,000 times. Kansas is still the prohibitive favorite to first knock off North Carolina and then to defeat Memphis and claim this year's NCAA Tournament Championship.
This week, not only do we have results of the simulations at BracketPreview.com, but we also have boxscores, play-by-play, game recaps and stats from each of the three games. A brief synopsis of the results is below. We strongly encourage readers to visit BracketPreview.com to see the most in-depth Final Four breakdown around.
Kansas, which has been the favorite all along, has the highest chance of winning the tournament at 49.0%. Almost exactly half of the 10,000 simulations of the rest of the tournament conclude with Kansas winning. In their upcoming game, the Jayhawks advance past the impressive UNC Tar Heels 69.7% of the time by an average score of 87-82. Kansas' balance, efficiency and tenacity on defense obviously play big rolls, but it is really North Carolina that beats itself with turnovers. Against great perimeter defenders like Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson, UNC guards Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green press too much and give the ball up.
In the other National Semifinal, Memphis out-runs and out-lasts UCLA to win 55.6% of the time by an average score of 77-75. With the score in the upper-70s, it is clear that the Tigers are capable of setting the tempo. In fact, one of the most interesting things that simulation can illustrate is that when two teams of close to equal talent, yet very differing styles compete, the more offensively minded team typically comes out on top. The reason for this is that a defensive oriented team (no matter what the sport) has very little margin for error. A couple mistakes will not really phase Memphis, but they could kill UCLA.
In the championship game, Kansas comes out on top by an average score of 79-75. Again, Kansas is so solid and so balanced that it forces its opponent to defeat itself. Memphis' glaring weakness, its free throw shooting, finally catches up to the Tigers. They would need to play a near perfect game to beat another ultra-athletic, well-rounded team and they cannot with their free throw numbers.
After the Jayhawks, Memphis is next with a 20.6% championship chance. The Tigers are followed by UNC (16.2%) and then UCLA (14.2%). However, the team that wins the North Carolina/Kansas matchup is actually favored in the championship no matter what. The only reason that UNC's championship percentage is lower than Memphis' is because it has such a hard time getting to the game. The average score in a Tar Heel vs. Tiger championship is North Carolina winning 83-82. UCLA against UNC sees UNC winning 83-81.
There is no doubt that these are the four best teams in the country right now, so there should be three great games. Enjoy the Madness!
Whatifsports.com specializes in answering the great "What If?" questions in sports by simulating games between historical teams in professional basketball, football, baseball and hockey, or college football and basketball.