Compare Your March Madness Brackets with Nate's

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Big data’s sports-minded Big Kahuna — Nate Silver — is back with his latest predictions for the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Championship. Though his forecasts were right on target for last fall’s presidential election, Silver dropped the ball with his Super Bowl pick.

Regardless of his Super Bowl fumble, anyone filling out brackets this week would be a fool not to glance at what the FiveThirtyEight author has forecasted for March Madness.

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Here’s how Silver see the Final Four shaping up: Louisville will play Gonzaga and Indiana will face off against Florida for berths in the title game. Silver gives Louisville a 22.7 percent chance of taking home the championship. He has Indiana at 19.6 percent, Florida at 12.7 percent and Gonzaga at 6.1 percent. By his calculations, Louisville will knock off Indiana in the final game.

Silver’s computer prediction system is based on computer rankings, preseason rankings and how each team relates to each other in the field. The system also accounts for player injuries and team travel distances, which affect whether each contest is the equivalent of a home or a road game. For a more detailed explanation, Silver provides one here.

Silver calls the Midwest region the toughest, saying there’s “about a one-in-three chance that the eventual tournament champion will emerge from it, the highest of the four sub-brackets.”

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Much of Louisville’s advantage has to do with their travel itinerary, which Silver calls their “saving grace.” The top-seeded Cardinals’ road to the championship begins in Lexington, KY (only 70 miles from campus) and runs through Indianapolis (just over 100 miles) and Atlanta (around 300 miles).

So there you have it, folks, Silver has spoken: Louisville over Indiana, a match up that would surely shake up the Ohio River Valley. My kin hail from north of the Ohio, so despite Silver’s predictions, I’m banking on the Hoosiers bringing the title back home to Bloomington.

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via FiveThirtyEight