Once again, we're taking a break from politics to discuss the most pressing upcoming contest in America: March Madness. Kentucky heads into the Sweet Sixteen in the same place it was a week ago, the overwhelming favorite to win the championship at a 29.9 percent likelihood of victory. Mitt Romney is slightly more likely to win the presidency than Kentucky is to win the NCAA crown, but let's be fair: Kentucky has four rounds left, while Romney only has two.
Thursday: East and West Regions
Even though all four top seeds have survived the first two rounds, our second most likely team to take the tourney is the second seed in the East, Ohio State, with 12.8 percent likelihood. This is a sign of how weak top-seeded Syracuse has looked without its star player, Fab Melo, who did not qualify for the tournament. (The team came dangerously close to being the first top seed ever to lose a first-round game in its battle against UNC Asheville.) In its next game, we have top-seeded Syracuse at just 65.3 percent against No. 4 Wisconsin, our second tightest game. Ohio State is heavily favored at 77.2 percent likelihood over No. 6 Cincinnati.
The West continues to look like the weakest region. Michigan State is 66.5 percent likely to defeat No. 4 Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen. The other matchup is our closest game with No. 3 Marquette slightly favored at 54.8 percent over No. 7 Florida.
Friday: South and Midwest Regions
In the South, the loss of second-ranked Duke opened up the field for the top-ranked Kentucky team, but this loss did not move up Kentucky's likelihood of victory much; we already had Duke as the least likely second ranked to make it through to the Final Four. Kentucky is 81.7 percent likely to beat No. 4 Indiana, the most lopsided prediction we have in the Sweet Sixteen. No. 3 Baylor is 71.5 percent likely against No. 10 Xavier.
The Midwest continues to look like a preordained collision course between top-seeded North Carolina and second-seeded Kansas. They continue to jockey for third and fourth most likely to win it all with 11.1 percent and 10.2 percent respectively. Their paths are wide open to the Elite Eight; North Carolina is 80.8 percent likely to prevail over No. 13 Ohio, and Kansas is 78.5 percent likely to defeat No. 11 North Carolina State.
David Rothschild is an economist at Yahoo! Research. He has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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