Mirlis' Final Four-mula

March 24, 2005

By Eric Mirlis



Every Tom, Dick and Harry is giving you an analysis of this weekend's NCAA Tournament action. Who will win? Why? Will it be the greatest Final Four field ever? Xs and Os. Blah blah blah.


I'm here today to blow everyone's analysis out of the water and render it moot.


You see, I can look at the teams in the Sweet 16, take their seeds, and, with just the use of the history of Final Four, tell you who will win this weekend. It is all scientific, really.


The sample I will draw my information from starts with the 1979 Final Four, the first one that used the seeding method. But, there is one anomaly in the Final Four since 1979: in 1980, there were no No. 1 seeds. That is the only time it has ever happened, so for the purpose of this exercise, that year is being excluded.


Okay. Now that we have the technicalities out of the way, let's get down to business ...


Here are the teams remaining (not that anyone needs reminding):


Chicago Regional: Illinois, Oklahoma State, Arizona, UW-Milwaukee

Albuquerque Regional: Washington, Louisville, Texas Tech, West Virginia

Syracuse Regional: UNC, Villanova, Wisconsin, NC State

Austin Regional: Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Utah


·          There has never been a Final Four with four No. 1 seeds. One must lose.


·          Illinois, North Carolina and Duke have made is as number No. 1 seeds in the past (Illinois in 1989, UNC and Duke five times each). Washington has not. Washington is now eliminated


·          No 10 seed or 12 seed has ever made the Final Four. N.C. State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee? It was a nice run, but it had to end some time.


·          There has never been a year where the seeds were all even numbers or odd numbers; it has always been a combination. Put this one aside for later and we'll see if we need it.


·          The last team not currently in one of the seven power conferences to make a Final Four with a seeding higher than No. 4? Penn back in 1979. See U later, Utah.


·          Arizona has made the Final Four as a No. 1 seed, a No. 2 and a No. 4, but never a No. 3. Sorry, but it is back to the desert for the Wildcats.


·          Michigan State has made four Final Fours. Three times they were a No. 1 seed (1999, 2000, 2001), the other was as a No. 2 (1979). Add them up and you've got No. 5, which is their seed this year. I smell karma! We have our first team to qualify for this year's Final Four. Welcome back to the big stage, Spartans. You will outlast Duke and Kentucky in the Austin Regional.


·          The last time two teams from the same conference with seeds higher than No. 4 made it to the Final Four? 1980. And since that year is thrown out, it becomes never. Michigan State is already in, so that means bye-bye, Badgers. Wisconsin is out.


·          1980 was also the only year a No. 5 and No. 6 made the Final Four the same year. We have our No. 5, so sixth-seeded Texas Tech is officially eliminated.


Let's take a break to see where we stand:


In: Michigan State (No. 5 - Austin Regional).

Still Alive: Illinois and Oklahoma State (No. 1 and No. 2 - Chicago), North Carolina and Villanova (No. 1 and No. 4 - Syracuse), Louisville and West Virginia (No. 4 and No. 7 - Albuquerque).


·          Whenever a No. 5 seed has made the Final Four, there has never been a higher odd number seed. No. 7 isn't so lucky after all for West Virginia. And with that, Louisville is the winner of the Albuquerque Regional. Two down, two to go.


·          Only one Big East team has ever gone to the Final Four as a No. 4 seed - Syracuse in 1996. But there were multiple No. 1 seeds that year, too. That can't happen if Villanova goes, not even with the Orange urging them on in the Carrier Dome. North Carolina wins the Syracuse bracket.


·          One team still to be decided. But, there has never been a No. 2, 4, 5 seeding combination in the Final Four. We've got a 4 and 5, so we can't have a 2. That means no return trip this year for Oklahoma State. Illinois wins in Chicago.


So there you have it. It will be a Final Four of Illinois, North Carolina, Louisville and Michigan State.


Why? Because the numbers say so.



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