Without a presidential election to analyze -- and quite successfully called -- New York Times statistician/blogger Nate Silver has turned his attention to sports.
The latest installment of his blog, FiveThirtyEight, analyzes the NCAA men's basketball tournament and gives each team's chances of getting from round-to-round -- and for winning the whole thing.
According to Silver, the Gophers have a 61.9 chance of beating UCLA in their opening game on Friday night, a 13.9 chance of reaching the Sweet 16 and a 0.2 cent chance of winning the whole thing. You can also call it about a 3 in 5 chance of winning Friday, about 1 in 7 of winning the first two games and a 1 in 500 chance of taking the title.
And here's what Silver says about Florida, which would play the Gophers if both teams win their first games: The Gators are "is rated as the best team in the country by some of the computer systems ... despite losing seven losses and playing in the mediocre Southeastern Conference. How come? The answer boils down to margin of victory. Florida’s losses came by margins of 1, 3, 3, 4, 6, 6 and 11 points. By contrast, its wins came in blowouts; the Gators didn’t win a single game by fewer than 10 points."
The Gators, despite being a No. 3 seed, are given a 12.7 percent chance of winning the tournament by Silver, behind only Louisville (22.7 percent) and Indiana (19.6 percent).
Take heart in one thing, Gophers fans: That 0.2 percent chance is better than the 36 teams, including South Dakota State, that Silver has given a less than 0.1 percent chance of winning the tournament.