Bracket Predictions: The 3 Most Likely 2013 NCAA Tournament Winners

posted in NCAA Basketball, NCAA Tournament

Our mathematical models do more than just predict the likely NCAA tournament seeding, as you will find at our 2013 Bracketology page. They can also be used to forecast how the NCAA tournament will play out. This post looks at the three most likely NCAA champions according to our NCAA bracket predictions.

1. Indiana (21% odds to win the 2013 NCAA tournament)

Indiana Bracketology

The Indiana Hoosiers are slight favorites to win the 2012-2013 NCAA championship. Our model gives Tom Crean’s team a 21 percent chance of winning it all, leading the way in our 2013 bracket predictions.

Indiana is a favorite in our system in large part because they have the largest point differential of any team in college basketball, with the Hoosiers outscoring opponents by an average of 20.1 points per game. IU’s offense is a force to be reckoned with, scoring 1.19 points per possession, which is also the highest rate in Division I.

Tom Crean’s team is actually good at most everything on offense, leading the nation in three point shooting percentage (42%), while running fourth in effective field goal percentage (56%). Indiana also earns plenty of second chance opportunities on the offensive glass, thanks to the efforts of their two player of the year candidates, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.

While IU’s offense is great, the defense is merely very good. IU has allowed 0.90 points per possession this season, the 22st lowest total in D-I. Crean’s squad is nothing special on the defensive glass, and they lack the sort of rim defender that makes good defenses great. If the Hoosiers falter in the NCAA tournament, it will likely be because of their defense.

2. Florida (20% odds to win the 2013 NCAA tournament)

Florida Bracketology

Indiana’s title odds appear only a hair better than the chances of the Florida Gators, who our bracket predictions give a 20 percent chance of winning Billy Donovan’s third national championship.

The Gators are a more balanced team than Indiana. Florida is fifth in the country in points per possession on offense (1.16) and second nationally when it comes to points per possession defense (0.85). Combined excellence at both ends of the floor is what allows Florida to come in second in per game point differential, with the Gators outscoring their opponents by an average of 19.4 points per game.

Like most of Billy Donovan’s best teams, this iteration of the Gators shoots a lot of threes, hoisting them on 41 percent of their shots. And Florida does more than shoot a lot of threes, they also make them a lot. The Gators’ 38 percent three point shooting percentage ranks 32nd nationally. Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and 6-10 Erik Murphy are not shy when it comes to launching shots from long range. Throw in the fact that Florida makes 56 percent of their twos and they don’t turn the ball over very much, and the result is a highly effective scoring machine.

Florida’s defense is just as good as the offense. Florida’s opponents are only managing an effective field goal percentage of 43 percent, which is the fifth lowest total in D-I. Like Indiana, Florida doesn’t have a dominant shot blocker, although Patric Young is pretty good. The Gator D instead relies on limiting opponent penetration while controlling the boards and forcing turnovers.

3. Louisville (10% odds to win the 2013 NCAA tournament)

Louisville Bracketology

After Florida and Indiana, the championship chances for the next few teams drop off considerably. Take the case of Louisville, the team with the third best odds according to our NCAA bracket predictions. Louisville seems to be getting less attention lately, sitting at the fringes of the AP top 10, but the Cardinals are still good. Rick Pitino coaches one of the very best defenses in the nation.

Louisville allows 0.85 points per possession, putting it on par with Florida when it comes to defense. Louisville’s press forces turnovers, giving the Cardinals the second highest opponent turnover rate in the country. Even when teams break the initial pressure, shot blocking center Gorgui Dieng gives the Louisville D answers, which is part of the reason that the Cardinals are limiting opponents to a 44 percent effective field goal percentage.

Louisville is more likely to struggle on offense than the two teams ahead of them in our bracket predictions. The Cardinals rank 47th nationally in per possession scoring with 1.08 points per possession. Louisville avoids turnovers and crashes the glass, but 49 percent effective field goal percentage is not what you typically see with a championship offense. That may be due to a bit too much Russdiculousness; Russ Smith hoists one third of the Cardinals’ shots while he is on the floor.


In closing, don’t forget to check out all of our bracketology 2013 projections, which update daily. And in case you didn’t know already, is your #1 source for coverage and analysis of the 2013 NCAA tournament bracket, including bracket predictions for all Division I teams, computer optimized 2013 NCAA bracket picks, NCAA bracket odds for surviving each tournament round, and algorithmic NCAA tournament betting picks.

  • mjcarney

    When you guys recite stats above – is there any look at recency?, vs. higher caliber competition?, neural/road stats?

  • vhawk

    “Recency” does more harm than good. Larger sample sizes are almost always better than smaller, and no amount of “the team is really clicking” or “they learned how to play together as team” will make up for the added volatility of the smaller sample size. The overall season record is going to be a better predictor of future success than any small subset therein.

  • Jeff Haley

    Caliber of competition plays into the ratings, as you would imagine that it should. Obviously a 20 point road win against a highly rated team is worth more than a 20 point home victory against a doormat.

  • Jeff Haley

    Teams don’t play the same as a function of time, but in general using more information is better, so biasing too much in favor of recent results would not be helpful.

    I have no doubt that over the course of a season some teams get better, while others get worse. But it can be frightfully hard to make these determinations, so erring on the side of looking at more data is probably better in the long run.

  • bob

    how do you guys like syracuse’s chances?

  • Jeff Haley

    The model gives the Orange about a 3% chance of winning the title. That may not seem like much, but there are only 7 schools that are more likely to win the tournament that Syracuse.

    You can browse through the predictions here:

    You can also find more Syracuse related predictions here:

  • SlapYoMomma

    Go Gators!!


    Go Gators!!

  • Gary Batini

    In the past, I have been someone who would ride a team or two in the multiple pools that I partake in for the NCAA Tournament. However, my feeling on the season is that there is a deeper list of teams that could win it all if they get the breaks going the right way.

    My question is this: Could this season be a year where you need to have about five to six teams winning it all on different sheets and try to cash in a couple of pools instead of winning in every pool you enter? My concern is that this year’s field is probably the widest open it has been in quite a few years.

    Last year, I was lucky enough to get Kansas into the title game which helped me win a pool with close to $1,500 in the pot and it was winner take all. I hope with your information again this year, I can repeat those results again this year.

  • Jeff Haley

    I think your comment about more teams being in play for the championship this season is right. Our numbers say that there is about a 50% chance of Florida, Indiana, or Louisville winning it all, which also means that there is about a 50% chance that someone else will win.

  • friv 3

    I do not care, I love my team and I will always love it despite not winning

  • yepi

    The details are well-explai

    Bracket Predictions: The 3 Most Likely 2013 NCAA Tournament Winners

    ned and very concise.

    This is what I’ve been looking for. Thank you!