2015 NCAA TOURNAMENT
To formulate a prediction for each NCAA tournament game, we averaged the results of 20 simulated games with the computer coaching each
side. Because the simulation is based on actual statistical results, the favorite is very likely to win on average. In any given game, however, a less
talented team might get lucky. Thus, in the early rounds, the important thing to take away from the predictions is not the average results (which
almost always favor the favorite), but the chance of upset. In the later rounds, when the teams are more evenly matched, the average results
become more interesting.
No big surprises this year. The simulation picks undefeated Kentucky to win the NCAA Championship. Kentucky has a 31.8% chance to win it all,
which is the highest we’ve ever recorded. By contrast, Virginia has a 10.2% chance, Gonzaga has a 7.9% chance and Arizona has a 2.6%
chance. How good is 2015 Kentucky? We simulated 2015 Kentucky versus the last undefeated team, 1976 Indiana, and against the 2012
Kentucky NCAA Champion team. 2015 Kentucky was good enough to beat 1976 Indiana 70% of the time by an average score of 74-71, but not
good enough to beat 2012 Kentucky. The 2012 Wildcats beat the 2015 team 65% of the time by an average score of 68-66.
Hampton 69, Manhattan 68 (45% chance of upset)
These are two very evenly matched teams. If Reginald Johnson has a big game, Hampton will win. Reginald Johnson led all scorers with 15 and
BYU 79, Mississippi 73 (20% chance of upset)
BYU’s guards, especially Collinsworth, are likely to put up a lot of points and get the win. Mississippi will have to dominate the boards to get the
upset. An injured Collinsworth was 1 of 7 from the field, Mississippi won the battle of the boards, overcame a 17-point halftime deficit and won
Boise St. 72, Dayton 71 (45% chance of upset)
The team that takes better care of the ball should win a close one. If Pierre has a big game on the boards, Dayton will get the upset. Dayton won a
close one 56-55.
North Florida 79, Robert Morris 71 (25% chance of upset)
The team that makes the most three pointers is likely to win a sloppy game with lots of fouls and turnovers. Robert Morris took better care of the
ball and won 81-77.
Kentucky 87, Hampton 48 (less than 5% chance of upset)
Bold prediction: Kentucky will win… by a lot. Kentucky won 79-56.
Cincinnati 63, Purdue 65 (50% chance of upset)
Purdue should outrebound Cincinnati and win, but if Cincinnati’s guards get hot, Cincinnati could win. Cincinnati beat Purdue 66-65 in overtime.
Cincinnati’s three guards combined for 32 points on 12 of 26 shooting while holding Purdue’s guards to a dismal 4 of 26 from three point
West Virginia 72, Buffalo 74 (50% chance of upset)
West Virginia should out-shoot Buffalo, but if West Virginia can’t stay out of foul trouble, Buffalo will get the upset. Despite committing 25 fouls,
West Virginia won 68-62 because Buffalo was 16 of 25 from the line and had 17 turnovers.
Maryland 71, Valparaiso 69 (40% chance of upset)
Maryland is the better team, but if Valparaiso takes good care of the ball and Maryland doesn’t shoot well, Valpo could get the upset. Maryland
Butler 66, Texas 72 (60% chance of upset)
Texas should outrebound Butler and win, but if Butler gets to the free throw line more, Butler may win. Texas outrebounded Butler 39 to 25, but
Butler was 20 of 28 from the charity stripe versus just 8 of 12 for Texas. Butler won 56-48.
Notre Dame 83, Northeastern 65 (5% chance of upset)
Notre Dame should win easily. Northeastern will need to play a perfect game to get the upset. Notre Dame won 69-65.
Wichita St. 79, Indiana 72 (15% chance of upset)
Wichita St. should outshoot Indiana, take care of the ball a little better than Indiana, and win the game. Wichita St. outshot Indiana, had only 7
turnovers compared to Indiana's 13, and won the game 81-76.
Kansas 76, New Mexico St. 64 (10% chance of upset)
Kansas should win easily. New Mexico St. could get the upset if Kansas commits a lot of fouls, but it is not very likely. Kansas won 75-56.
Wisconsin 80, Coastal Carolina 64 (20% chance of upset)
If Coastal Carolina outshoots Wisconsin and has fewer turnovers than Wisconsin, CC could get the upset, but neither is very likely. Wisconsin
Oregon 68, Oklahoma St. 73 (35% chance of upset)
Oklahoma St. should get the edge due to better three-point shooting. Oklahoma St. was 10 of 29 from three-point range versus Oregon's 7 of
19. Oregon won 79-73.
Arkansas 88, Wofford 72 (5% chance of upset)
Arkansas’ fast pace should lead to lots of Wofford fouls and turnovers and an easy victory. Wofford slowed down the game, but still lost 56-53.
North Carolina 73, Harvard 65 (15% chance of upset)
If Harvard shoots the ball extremely well, there is a small chance of an upset. North Carolina squeaked by 67-65.
Xavier 80, BYU 83 (65% chance of upset)
This should be an exciting high scoring game. If Haws has a big game, BYU should get the upset. Xavier beat Mississippi 76-57.
Baylor 71, Georgia St. 67 (45% chance of upset)
This game may be a lot closer than expected. If Hunter gets hot, Georgia St. could win. Hunter poured in 16 points and Georgia State got the
VCU 72, Ohio St. 71 (45% chance of upset)
This should be a great game between two evenly matched teams. Ohio State won a great game 75-72 in overtime.
Arizona 89, Texas Southern 59 (less than 5% chance of upset)
Arizona is too good for Texas Southern. Wouldn’t be surprised to see six Wildcats in double figures. Arizona rolled, 93-72, but only five
Wildcats scored in double figures.
Villanova 88, Lafayette 64 (less than 5% chance of upset)
First of 20 simulations went to overtime, but Villanova easily won the other 19. Villanova won 93-52.
NC State 69, LSU 64 (40% chance of upset)
Should be a close game. Team that gets to the free throw line more should win. NC State beat LSU 66-65 despite LSU getting to the free throw
Northern Iowa 73, Wyoming 66 (20% chance of upset)
Northern Iowa is very good. Wyoming will need a great defensive effort to get the upset. Northern Iowa won 71-54.
Louisville 72, UC Irvine 61 (20% chance of upset)
Louisville should win easily. Would take a sloppy, bad shooting night for the Cardinals for UC Irvine to have a chance. Louisville shot just 41.8%
from the field, but still managed to win 57-55.
Providence 71, Boise St. 68 (45% chance of upset)
Providence should outshoot Boise St. and win, but if Boise St. can keep it close and Providence gets a lot of turnovers, Boise St. could get the
upset. Dayton beat Providence 66-53.
Oklahoma 78, Albany 60 (5% chance of upset)
Oklahoma should win easily. It would take a spectacular defensive effort by Albany to make it close. Oklahoma won 69-60.
Michigan St. 71, Georgia 67 (35% chance of upset)
Michigan St. should win, but if Georgia keeps it close, the Spartans may lose the game due to poor free throw shooting. Michigan St. shot a
dismal 57.9% from the free throw line, but won anyway 70-63.
Virginia 79, Belmont 50 (less than 5% chance of upset)
Virginia’s defense is too much for Belmont.
Duke 97, North Florida 71 (5% chance of upset)
Duke should put up a lot of points against North Florida. If North Florida gets extremely hot from three point range, maybe they can keep up, but it
is not likely. Duke beat Robert Morris 85-56.
San Diego St. 63, St. Johns 66 (70% chance of upset)
St. Johns should win a close one between these evenly matched teams. However, if San Diego St. can slow the game down, they may get the
win. San Diego St. got to the free throw line more and won 76-64.
Utah 80, SF Austin 66 (10% chance of upset)
Absent a big imbalance in fouls and free throws, Utah should win easily. Utah won 57-50.
Georgetown 72, Eastern Wash. 71 (40% chance of upset)
If Georgetown shuts down Tyler Harvey, Georgetown should win easily. If Harvey has a big game, Eastern Washington may surprise. Tyler
Harvey scored 27 on 9 of 20 shooting, but Georgetown still won 84-74.
SMU 71, UCLA 70 (45% chance of upset)
SMU should outshoot UCLA in a close one, but if UCLA forces lots of turnovers, UCLA might get the upset. UCLA won on a bad call 60-59. Feel
bad for SMU.
Iowa St. 75, UAB 67 (20% chance of upset)
The team that gets the most rebounds should win and that is likely to be Iowa St. Biggest upset of the first day of the tournament. UAB
dominated the boards and won 60-59.
Iowa 76, Davidson 78 (55% chance of upset)
Davidson lives and dies by the three pointer. If it is falling, the Wildcats will get the upset. Davidson shot a dismal 6 for 28 three pointers and got
blown out 83-52.
Gonzaga 86, North Dakota St. 63 (less than 5% chance of upset)
Gonzaga should win a blow out. Gonzaga won 86-76.
Kentucky 79, Purdue 59 (5% chance of upset)
If Purdue is able to play extremely aggressive defense, especially on the perimeter, they have a very small chance to win. Emphasis on “very
small.” Kentucky beat Cincinnati 65-51.
Maryland 77, Buffalo 72 (25% chance of upset)
Maryland should outshoot Buffalo and win, but if Maryland commits lots of turnovers and Buffalo gets to the
free throw line, Buffalo could get the upset. West Virginia beat Maryland 69-59
Notre Dame 73, Texas 67 (25% chance of upset)
Texas will have trouble stopping Notre Dame’s high powered offense. It will take a great defensive effort for Texas to get the upset. Notre Dame
beat Butler 67-64.
Kansas 70, Wichita St. 69 (45% chance of upset)
Kansas should win a close one due to superior defense. Wichita St. outshot Kansas 49% to 35% and won 78-65.
Wisconsin 75, Oklahoma St. 65 (25% chance of upset)
Absent an uncharacteristically high number of turnovers, Wisconsin should win. Wisconsin beat Oregon 72-65.
North Carolina 82, Arkansas 77 (25% chance of upset)
This should be an exciting high-scoring game. Arkansas doesn’t have the defense to stop the Tar Heels. North Carolina beat Arkansas 87-78.
Baylor 81, BYU 75 (20% chance of upset)
Baylor should outshoot BYU and win a close one. BYU will need to get hot from three-point range to get the upset. Xavier beat Georgia St. 75-67.
Arizona 79, VCU 71(25% chance of upset)
Arizona should be able to run VCU off the floor, but if VCU can slow down the game, the Rams have a chance. Arizona beat Ohio St. 73-58.
Villanova 76, NC State 69 (30% chance of upset)
Villanova should beat NC State in a surprisingly close and well-played game. NC State beat Villanova in a close one, 71-68.
Louisville 70, Northern Iowa 64 (30% chance of upset)
Louisville is a much better team, but in a close game the Cardinals’ poor free throw shooting could lead to an upset. Louisville won 66-53.
Oklahoma 66, Providence 65 (45% chance of upset)
Oklahoma gets the slight edge in a great game between two evenly matched teams. Oklahoma beat Dayton 72-66.
Virginia 77, Michigan St. 64 (15% chance of upset)
Virginia is an elite team with a great defense. Michigan St. must dominate the glass and make more threes to get the upset. Michigan St. was 6
of 12 from three-point range versus 2 of 17 for Virginia, and Michigan St. won 60-54.
Duke 81, St. Johns 73 (25% chance of upset)
Duke is the better team and should win unless the Blue Devils get sloppy and make lots of turnovers.
Georgetown 61, Utah 73 (95% chance of upset)
Utah’s defense should be too much for Georgetown. Look for the Utes to get the upset.
Iowa St. 71, SMU 70 (45% chance of upset)
This should be a great game between two evenly matched teams. Iowa St. gets the very slight nod, but it could go either way.
Gonzaga 94, Davidson 81 (15% chance of upset)
Davidson’s three-point shooting can’t overcome the Wildcat’s inability to defend against Gonzaga.
Kentucky 77, Maryland 60 (5% chance of upset)
Maryland’s one simulation win out of 20 was by three points due to Kentucky shooting a dismal 9 of 20 from the free throw line. Kentucky should
otherwise win by a large margin.
Kansas 77, Notre Dame 75 (40% chance of upset)
This should be a very close game between two evenly matched teams. Kansas should outrebound Notre Dame and slow down the Irish just
enough to win.
Wisconsin 75, North Carolina 71 (35% chance of upset)
North Carolina has the athletes to upset Wisconsin, but Wisconsin will turnover the ball less and win.
Arizona 77, Baylor 72 (30% chance of upset)
The team that gets to the free throw line more will win. That is likely to be Arizona.
Villanova 74, Louisville 69 (25% chance of upset)
Villanova’s superior three-point shooting should give them the edge.
Virginia 68, Oklahoma 61 (20% chance of upset)
Virginia’s should win with superior defense, but Oklahoma can get the upset if the Sooners control the boards.
Duke 75, Utah 79 (75% chance of upset)
The team that makes the most threes should win. Utah’s depth and perimeter defense should enable the Utes to be that team.
Gonzaga 81, Iowa St. 74 (25% chance of upset)
Gonzaga is the better team. Iowa St. will need an outstanding defensive effort to have a chance at an upset.
Kentucky 74, Kansas 65 (20% chance of upset)
Kansas has the talent to beat Kentucky, but it will take a superhuman rebounding effort for the Jayhawks to get the upset.
Wisconsin 75, Arizona 76 (50% chance of upset)
This rematch of last year’s 64-63 OT thriller should be every bit as exciting. Each team won 10 simulations, but Arizona averaged one more point
Villanova 69, Virginia 72 (60% chance of upset)
This should be another great game. The team that made the most free throws won 19 out of 20 simulations. That team is more likely to be
Gonzaga 75, Utah 74 (45% chance of upset)
Gonzaga gets the nod in another terrific matchup.
Kentucky 74, Arizona 70 (20% chance of upset)
Kentucky’s defense should be the difference in a good game.
Virginia 73, Gonzaga 74 (50% chance of upset)
Gonzaga’s offense versus Virginia’s defense should make for a great game. Gonzaga picked to win by the narrowest of margins.
Kentucky 74, Gonzaga 71 (45% chance of upset)
Gonzaga will give the Wildcats a tough game, but Kentucky should win a close one due to better defense.