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July 6, 2022

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NCAA Tournament:

Tourney Treats: log 5 equation gives UNLV a 66 percent chance to win its first game

Rebels to face Colorado

Steve Marcus

A highlight video showing UNLV Rebel Carlos Lopez is reflected on the backboard before the NCAA tournament selection show at the Thomas & Mack Center Sunday, March 11, 2012. The Rebels will face Colorado at Albuquerque.

The Rebel Room

Rebels draw Colorado in NCAA opener

Las Vegas Sun reporters Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer take a look at the UNLV basketball team's opening round opponent in the NCAA Tournament — Pac-12 tournament champions Colorado.

If you like filling out your bracket based on which team’s mascot would win in a cage match, don’t bother with any of this data. You already have your method and, as frustrating as it is to people who spend hours debating each pick, you probably finish higher in your office pool, too.

For the rest of you, this is a brief look at what one algorithm has to say about the bracket and, more specifically, UNLV's chances in the South region.

It’s called log 5 and it was introduced in 1981 by Bill James, of “Moneyball” fame and a current Boston Red Sox employee. It’s designed to predict single-game winning percentages. Here’s the basics, as written by Stephen J. Miller, who goes on to explain why this is such an effective method.

“Let p and q denote the winning percentages of teams A and B. The following formula has numerically been observed to provide a terrific estimate of the probability that A beats B: (ppq)/(p + q — 2pq).”

Ken Pomeroy, who runs the site and attended the Mountain West tournament last week, has used this to predict conference tournaments. Last season 15 teams that the log 5 formula favored won their conference tournaments, nearly doubling the number of one seeds (eight) that were victorious.

This year, Pomeroy applied it to the entire NCAA Tournament field and came up with, not surprisingly, 1-seed Kentucky as a favorite with a one in five chance to win the title. Here’s what the equation says about UNLV's percentage chance to advance to each round:

Round 3: 66. Sweet Sixteen: 27.4. Elite Eight: 13.1. Final Four: 3. Final: 0.8. Champ: 0.2. Odds: 1 in 506.

That’s probably not much of a surprise, but more information never hurt. And 4-seed Indiana has just a 14.6 percent chance at the Elite Eight, which leaves them very close to on par with the Rebels.

Oh, and if you’re looking to avoid all 1 seeds in the Final Four, 2-seed Ohio State is tied with Kentucky as a one in five favorite to cut down the nets in New Orleans.

Of course, if you’re going with mascots, I doubt the Buckeyes make it out of the Sweet Sixteen.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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