As of Wednesday morning, Williamson’s fame and Krzyzewski‘s leadership have led to 38 percent of participants in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge — which had 17.3 million entrants in 2018 — choosing Duke as this year’s national champion. That makes the Blue Devils a terrible choice as the winner of your bracket.
Think about it — if Duke wins the title, you are still tied with almost half the field. Compare that to the two most popular choices last year, Virginia (19 percent of brackets) and Villanova (16 percent), and it is easy to see how much of an advantage you get in such a large pool.
Plus, a 41 percent win rate for Duke is out of line with conventional wisdom. The oddsmakers at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas have kept Duke as the favorite but lowered its odds from 2 to 1 on Sunday to 9 to 4 on Monday. William Hill also has Duke as the favorite with odds of 11 to 5. Those odds from two well-known bookmakers imply Duke has roughly a 31 percent chance to cut down the nets in 2019 — a far cry from the 41 percent the public is giving them.
According to the data and methodology that fuels the perfect bracket, Duke has a 15 percent chance to be the last team standing, making the Blue Devils an abhorrent underlay that should be avoided at all costs in any large pool (100 or more people), not just those with millions of entrants. There are so many brackets picking Duke to win it all that you could go with almost any of the other top-three seeds — over the past eight years, every national champion except one, 2014 Connecticut (a No. 7 seed), was a No. 1, 2 or 3 seed — and come out ahead. The only two I would avoid are No. 1 North Carolina and No. 3 LSU; both are appearing on brackets more frequently than their title odds would suggest.