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Beside The Points For Monday, March 12, 2018

Things That Caught My Eye

Virginia with the best shot

The bracket for the 2018 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is out, and your top seeds are Virginia (which FiveThirtyEight gives a 18 percent chance of winning), Villanova (17 percent), Kansas (7 percent), and Xavier (er, 3 percent chance). Duke, which many basketball fans will recall as that school that lost to UNC this past weekend, has a 10 percent chance of winning to North Carolina’s 5 percent. [FiveThirtyEight]

Mark it down: Florida State upset

According to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of the bracket, the likeliest upset of the first round of the men’s tournament is 9-seed Florida State over 8-seed Missouri, where the lower ranked school has a 61 percent chance of winning. [FiveThirtyEight]

Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?

Philly rebuilt using the Chicago blueprint

In three of the past five years the Phillies got younger, in four of the five past years they improved their farm roster, and in four of the past five years they cut pay roll. If you look at the five year run from 2010 to 2014 when the Chicago Cubs rebuilt their roster, that’s the same thing that happened. Only five teams since 1988 have done that style of rebuild. [FiveThirtyEight]

15 games too much

The last team out of the March Madness tournament was Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish had to deal with star Bonzie Colson’s 15-game absence that contributed to a few close losses. [ESPN]

Losing 14 games used to mean something in this town

In the past 60 years, only 15 teams with 14 losses or more made their way into the tournament. Now nine of those teams have broken into the dance since 2011, and this year there are two, Alabama and Texas. It’s the second year in a row where there were multiple 14-loss teams, after Vanderbilt and Michigan State got their tickets punched last time around. [ESPN]

Half the time

The overall No. 1 seed in the tournament has a dicey record in March; in the 14 years since the NCAA spilled the beans on the overall No. 1, half of them have made it to the final four. Of those, only three won the title, which is exactly as often as the team was eliminated in the round of 32. [ESPN]

Big Number

26.8 percent

The Legion of Boom is over in Seattle, and what comes next is unclear. In 2012, 43.8 percent of Seattle offensive snaps came from players on rookie contracts, and five years later that figure was essentially unchanged at 42.5 percent. On the defensive side, though, the seasoned vets took over: 54.9 percent of snaps were from rookie deal players in 2012, but in 2017 that was down to 26.8 percent. With the legion dispersing, that leaves a gaping hole on defense. [ESPN]

Leaks from Slack:


The verdict is in on Shohei Ohtani’s bat and it’s not good


based on spring training?


Oh, and don’t forget
My puny ape brain cannot comprehend perfection

Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.