We analyzed millions of picks in the Bracket Challenge Game to identify which Cinderella team (8-seed or worse) fans most picked to make the Final Four. Roll Tide! The data says it's Alabama. Here's Alabama and the nine other most popular Cinderella picks this year:
And a couple takeaways from these numbers:
1. The top two teams have dynamite players who can singlehandedly lift a team to victory.
The most-picked Cinderella, Alabama, carries with it Collin Sexton, a hyper-athletic point guard who averaged 19 points per game and was the driving force behind the Crimson Tide’s tournament run this season. And the second-most-picked Cinderella, Oklahoma, has a player named Trae Young. Maybe you’ve heard of him.
It’s not a coincidence that in a sport with just 10 athletes in play at any given time, two spark plug stars with name recognition are convincing fans they can be the difference in crunch time.
2. There’s a whole lot of confidence around the country about No. 16-seed Penn’s chance of beating No. 1-seed Kansas. The Quakers have been called by some the best 16-seed in the history of the tournament, and the numbers reflect it: Penn ranks above all three other 16-vs.-1 matchups in this year's field. Look at the data for people choosing 16-seeds to beat 1-seeds just in the first round — which, again, has never happened:
- Penn over Kansas: 2.79%
- The other three 16 vs. 1 games, combined: 5.16%
That’s huge, borderline unbelievable support for the Quakers, even if history tells us this won’t happen.
NCAA Digital's Dan Jepperson and Mike Szahaj contributed to the reporting of this article.