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2:40 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Nate Silver: Louisville Cardinals Have 23.8% (and Best) Chance of Winning NCAA Tournament

Nate Silver
Credit Creative Commons

Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver is famous for accurately forecasting presidential elections, but he also correctly picked the 2012 NCAA men's basketball champion—the Kentucky Wildcats.

This year, Silver is forecasting that the Louisville Cardinals have the best chance of winning the NCAA Tournament, though he cautions that they're not overwhelming favorites.

The Cardinals chance of winning is 23.8 percent, Silver writes.

Here's an interactive graphic from The New York Times with breakdowns of every team's chance of advancing each round.

Silver writes on his New York Times blog:

The saving grace for Louisville is its travel itinerary: its road to the championship would run through Lexington, Ky. (just 70 miles from campus), then Indianapolis (just over 100 miles), then Atlanta (about 300 miles away). Its potential Round of 16 matchup, against No. 4 St. Louis or No. 5 Oklahoma State, also does not look especially tough. Mostly, though, the forecast favors Louisville simply because it is a good enough team to endure some difficult games.

The Indiana Hoosiers (18.4 percent in the graphic) are Silver's second choice, followed by Florida, Kansas and Duke.

Silver became renown in  statistics analyzing performance potential for Major League Baseball players before starting FiveThirtyEight.com—now part of The Times—and correctly picking the winners of the past two presidential elections. In 2008, he got 49 states right. Last year, he got all 50 right.

But Silver also predicted that the Seattle Seahawks would play the New England Patriots in this year's Super Bowl. Neither team made it. Silver concedes on his blog that correctly choosing Kentucky as the 2012 national champion was "as much luck as skill, since the forecast gave Kentucky just a 27 percent chance of winning." And Silver notes that the 2011 champion, the Connecticut Huskies, were part of the "rest of the field" category in his projections.

One side note: Western Kentucky fans, the Hilltoppers have a 1.8 percent chance of advancing behind their first game on Friday against the Kansas Jayhawks, Silver writes.

WFPL's Jonathan Bastian interviewed Silver late last year. Check it out here.