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The COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for the cancellation of both the men’s and women’s 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball tournaments. Starting from the point when the Division I tournaments and unfinished conference tournaments were canceled, we deliver closed-form probabilities for each team of making the Division I tournaments, had they not been canceled, under a simplified method for tournament selection. We also determine probabilities of a team winning March Madness, given a tournament bracket. Our calculations make use of conformal win probabilities derived from conformal predictive distributions. We compare these conformal win probabilities to those generated through linear and logistic regression on college basketball data spanning the 2011–2012 and 2022–2023 seasons, as well as to other publicly available win probability methods. Conformal win probabilities are shown to be well calibrated, while requiring fewer distributional assumptions than most alternative methods.


This is an Open Access article that has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights (Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 Universal). You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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The American Statistician (ISSN 0003-1305; e-ISSN 1537-2731)