At the beginning of the NCAA tournament, #2 seed West Virginia had the third-best chance of all 64 teams to make it to the national championship game at 8.6%. How crazy is it that the Mountaineers now have the fourth-best chance of the Final Four teams heading into Saturday’s national semifinals at 20.28%? That craziness has helped define March Madness this year.
With #5 seeds Butler and Michigan State battling it out in one semifinal, West Virginia runs into the new favorite to win the Big Dance in the lone #1 seed to make it to the Final Four – Duke. Surprisingly, the Blue Devils had the sixth-best chance to make it to the title heading into the NCAA tournament at just 7.2% behind a pair of #2 seeds and the other three #1 seeds.
AccuScore isn’t shocked that the Bulldogs and Spartans are in Indianapolis because both were ranked in their Top
16 before the tournament, although each took many different roads to get here. Fellow #5 seeds Texas A&M and Temple were not even in AccuScore’s Top 20.
Duke had arguably the easiest road on Selection Sunday and did not need to beat a team better than #3 seed
Baylor en route to the Final Four. Meanwhile, Butler and West Virginia each defeated #1 seeds in their respective regions while Michigan State got to benefit from #9 seed Northern Iowa and #6 seed Tennessee knocking out the top two seeds in the Midwest.
The toughest team the Spartans had to play (according to the Selection Committee anyway) was #4 seed Maryland in the second round, a game that needed a game-winning 3-point shot by Kalin Lucas replacement Korie Lucious in the final seconds to advance. Not to take anything away from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and his six Final Four appearances in 12 years, but his team definitely enjoyed the easiest road to Indy when all was said and done.
Hometown favorite Butler has rightfully earned the respect of oddsmakers against the Spartans though, and you can bet the Bulldogs will be the sentimental pick to cut down the nets next Monday night. Butler had a 1.6% chance of winning the national championship before the Big Dance, ironically sandwiched between Michigan
State (1.7%) and Maryland (1.5%).
The Bulldogs now have a 22.92% chance of hearing “One Shining Moment” played in their honor compared to
23.37% for the Spartans and 33.44% for the Blue Devils. West Virginia’s Wellington Smith probably should have waited to see the rest of the Final Four field before proclaiming “that basically was the national championship game” after his team beat Kentucky last Saturday. Smith was right when he said “we have a chance at this” but the Mountaineers still have some work to do. The same can be said for the other three teams still dancing as April draws near.