We’ve never seen one league account for all four of the Final Four teams in one NCAA Tournament, but could 2013 be the year?
William Hill posted the following odds for the Big Ten before the tournament began:
Four Teams: 250-to-1
Three Teams: 10-to-1
Three teams has actually happened once before, back in 1985 with Georgetown (Big East), St. John’s (Big East), Villanova (Big East) and Memphis State (Metro Conference).
The break-even point for a 250-to-1 bet is only 0.4%, so is there greater than a 0.4-percent chance that the Big Ten can pull it off this season?
BIG TEN’S 2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK
Right now, the Big Ten has three elite teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State), two more solid teams (Wisconsin, Ohio State), and two more bubble/fringe teams (Illinois, Minnesota). Iowa probably won’t make the tournament barring a late-season run.
So, a lot will depend on how those teams are slotted in the bracket.
The three elite teams will all be in separate sections of the bracket, but the key would be to get either Wisconsin or Ohio State—or both—in the fourth and final region. Right now on ESPN’s Bracketology, that’s not the case. (We’ve also added TeamRankings.com’s current “bracket odds” of each team making the Final Four.)
No. 1 Indiana | 45.6%
No. 11 Minnesota | 6.5%
No. 2 Michigan | 13.3%
No. 5 Wisconsin | 14.2%
No. 2 Michigan State | 10.3%
No. 5 Ohio State | 10.3%
No. 9 Illinois | 1.6%
In that setup, the odds of four different Big Ten teams all making the Final Four is only 0.04%, well below the break-even point of 0.4%. But Illinois is really throwing a kink in all of it by being the only team in the South bracket.
If you merely switched Wisconsin from the East to the South, the odds jump to 0.2%. If you got lucky and Wisconsin and Ohio State were slotted in the same bracket (as, say, a 4- and a 6-seed), and Illinois shifted over to a bracket with Michigan or Michigan State, the odds would jump even more.
And, of course, if you believe certain teams like Michigan or Michigan State are better than valued and have more than a 10% chance of making the Final Four, that affects the odds even more.
Bottom line: The numbers don’t suggest this is a fantastic play, but it’s also far from a sucker bet. The fact is it’s a 250-to-1 bet, so analyzing the numbers too much and letting them dictate your decisions is probably taking things way too seriously. If you’re looking for a decent lottery ticket come tournament time, this is about as good as it gets.
Especially if you’re a Big Ten fan.