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Duke Completed A Long Road To The National Championship

When this tournament started, the FiveThirtyEight model said Duke was only 6 percent likely to win the NCAA tournament. Now it’s 100 percent.

What the model couldn’t tell you: that Duke would pull away from Gonzaga late in the Elite Eight and demolish a surprising Michigan State team in the Final Four; that it’d have to come back against a Wisconsin team late in the championship game; and that one of the guys helping the Blue Devils do it would be Grayson Allen, the freshman from Jacksonville who scored 16 points in the final of the NCAA tournament. Allen averaged nine minutes and four points a game this season but went 5 of 8 from the field in the biggest game of his life. He’s the kind of folk hero March Madness is so good at finding.

That Duke was only 6 percent likely to win the tournament doesn’t mean this was a total shock. The Blue Devils were a No. 1 seed after all and had the sixth-highest probability to win, according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Here’s a look back at the Blue Devils’ win probabilities going into each round of the tournament. Engrave it on to your commemorative DVD, Duke fans. Shining moments shouldn’t be forgotten.

  • Round of 64: 6 percent chance to win the championship.
  • Round of 32: 7 percent.
  • Sweet 16: 12 percent.
  • Elite Eight: 13 percent.
  • Final Four: 22 percent.
  • Finals: 47 percent.
  • Monday night, 11:30 p.m.: 100 percent.

Chadwick Matlin was a deputy managing editor at FiveThirtyEight.