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Illinois' odds not so good in NCAA tournament

There's some statistical help in filling out those NCAA basketball tournament brackets. But University of Illinois fans might not like the odds.

The Illini are a No. 9 seed in the Southwest region. Later this week, they'll face off against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a No. 8 seed.

U of I computer science Professor Sheldon Jacobson says the Illini are favorites to win that game. That's based purely on statistics that 9 seeds have historically faired better than No. 8s in the second round of the tournament.

Jacobson put together a mathematical model that helps determine who will make it to the Final Four.

"If you look at the seeds there are very consistent patterns that have evolved over the past 26 tournaments. So you can actually determine how likely they are to occur," Jacobson said.

Jacobson said the best bet for the Final Four is two No. 1s, No. 2 and a No. 3.

As for Illinois, Jacobson said the odds aren't so good for the team to advance past the third round, much less win the championship.

"In fact it's so low that you'd be better off buying a lottery ticket than you'd be betting on Illinois," he said.

The Illini are the only team from Illinois to make the tournament. The team came close to winning the championship in 2005, but lost out to the University of North Carolina. That year, Illinois was a No. 1 seed.

Jacobson and two undergraduate students created a website for people to check the odds of their brackets.


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