FiveThirtyEight Final Four 2018 Predictions

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Everyone will be looking for the most useful predictions to help them bet this year's Final Four.  One of the better prediction model websites is one that was popular during the 2016 U.S. Presidential race,

03/31/2018 811 LOYOLA CHICAGO +5-110 o129-110 +207
15:05:00 812 MICHIGAN -5-110 u129-110 -247
03/31/2018 813 KANSAS +5-110 o155½-110 +192
17:45:00 814 VILLANOVA -5-110 u155½-110 -232

The best low seeded Final Four teams include....drum roll please.....Loyola-Chicago, 6th best according to

The best low-seeded Final Four teams

Best pre-tournament Elo rating for Final Four teams seeded seventh or lower, 1985-2018

  Season Team Region Seed Pre-Tournament Elo
1 2015 Michigan State East 7 1914
2 2014 Connecticut East 7 1909
3 2014 Kentucky Midwest 8 1876
4 2011 Butler Southeast 8 1875
5 2000 Wisconsin West 8 1871
6 2018 Loyola (IL) South 11 1838
7 2000 North Carolina South 8 1822
8 1986 Louisiana State Southeast 11 1804
9 1985 Villanova Southeast 8 1802
10 2013 Wichita State West 9 1791
11 2016 Syracuse Midwest 10 1772
12 2017 South Carolina East 7 1747
13 2006 George Mason Washington 11 1747
14 2011 VCU Southwest 11 1725


Yeah, the Ramblers are among the better Cinderella teams, but history has not been kind to Cinderellas. Teams seeded ninth or worse are 0-6 all-time in the national semifinal.

Then there is this interesting little tidbit about Michigan:

Michigan is an especially interesting opponent for the Ramblers, given that both teams are riding double-digit winning streaks (Loyola has won 14 straight, and Michigan has won 13) and that the chief knock on Michigan’s otherwise stellar tournament play has been a lack of difficult opponents. If they do beat Loyola, the Wolverines will become the first team in history to make it to the national title game without facing a single team seeded better than sixth. But that probably overstates the ease of Michigan’s path; not only is the average Elo of their opponents not notably low by Final Four standards,1 but it’s not even the lowest of 2018. (Villanova has faced a much easier path to the Final Four, in terms of its opponents’ average Elo ratings.)

It should also be noted that, despite all the chaos of this tournament, the other regional finals ended up with chalk prevailing, producing a pair of No. 1 seeds in Kansas and Villanova, notes. It’ll be the 15th all-time battle of top-seeded teams in the national semifinals, and the first since Wisconsin-Kentucky in 2015.

Villanova, the odds-on favorite to win the 2018 NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship, appears to be the one to beat, according to 

Aside from some mid-game jockeying with West Virginia in the Sweet 16, Nova’s victories have seldom been in doubt on the road to the Final Four.

- Don Shapiro,

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