UCLA (fourth in the pac 10 that year and only 17-9 pre-tournament) made it to the finals despite being the 47th invitee to the 48-team field. only louisville, the eventual champ at 33-3, was an expected final 4 team.

UCLA was an 8 seed, purdue a 6, iowa 5 and louisville a 2. ]]>

I'm also reminded of a thought experiment I read about (the name eludes me, but I'm sure someone here knows it). The premise was that if a lottery exists such that any individual ticket had such infinitesimal odds of winning as to consider them zero, could it still be assumed that SOMEONE was guaranteed to win the lottery? Basically, if no one had a practical shot to win, then is it possible that no one wins? To apply it here, if we assumed that no Final Four was likely, could we conclude that maybe the Final Four just won't happen??? I SURE HOPE NOT!

]]>Your assumption is that the probability of every final four combination occurring is uniformly distributed, i.e. choosing the final four amounts to casting a many, many-sided die.

But we all know that the ultimate combination is almost random, centered around seeds. In our perception, higher-seeded teams are better, therefore have a better chance of making it to the final four. What that means is that the eventual final four combination is in fact normally distributed rather than uniform. As a result, the TRUE probability of any single combination is weighted based on tournament seeds.

So in terms of absolute probability? Well, yeah by your definition based on uniform distribution, every combination is "unlikely" to happen. But in relative terms, this year's final four is "relatively more unlikely" than the rest. Is it the absolutely most unlikely final four? Of course not. Logically, the most unlikeliest final four will be all bottom-seeds. But as far as modern bracket history goes, the 2011 final four is relatively the unlikeliest final four combination that we have ever had based on their seeds.

]]>Is Colin magic? This guy is the sports radio version of that Willam Macy movie The Cooler. Every point he makes is immediately obliterated by reality: John Wall isn't going to amount to anything, Erin Rogers is a dud, and so on.

]]>If the Final Four were decided randomly, it would be random. But it's not, and seeding has an established relationship with tournament performance. It's a pretty good start for trying to ballpark the magnitude of this upset.

]]>If every team had an equal chance of winning each game, then every final four combination would have a ~.000015 probability of happening.

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