Louisville forward Luke Hancock, No. 11, shoots a layup in a game against the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website gave Louisville the best shot at going all the way in the NCAA March Madness Tournament, which starts Tuesday.

FiveThirtyEight Launches, Unveils March Madness Predictions

Statistician Nate Silver and programmer Matthew Conlen debut their bracket predictions for the annual college basketball extravaganza.

Louisville forward Luke Hancock, No. 11, shoots a layup in a game against the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website gave Louisville the best shot at going all the way in the NCAA March Madness Tournament, which starts Tuesday.

Louisville forward Luke Hancock, No. 11, shoots a layup in a game against the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website gave Louisville the best shot at going all the way in the NCAA March Madness Tournament, which starts Tuesday.

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Stats nuts and college hoops fans, rejoice.

Nate Silver’s new data journalism site, FiveThirtyEight, went live this week, and with it, his team’s projections for the NCAA March Madness Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

By compiling “a composite of power rankings, preseason rankings, the team’s placement on the NCAA’s 68-team S-curve, player injuries and geography,” Silver said he and computer programmer Matthew Conlen developed a model to predict each team’s chances for reaching the next round of the March Madness bracket.

Louisville, which won the tournament last year and sits as the No. 4-seed in the Midwest region this time around, comes out on top with a 15-percent chance of winning the tournament. Florida and Arizona, each the No. 1-seed in their respective regions, are close behind, with 14- and 13-percent chances of clinching the championship. 

FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver and computer programmer Matthew Conlen forecast the 2014 NCAA March Madness Men's Basketball Tournament.
FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver and computer programmer Matthew Conlen forecast the 2014 NCAA March Madness Men's Basketball Tournament.

The rest of the pack falls comparatively far back, with next-closest Kansas (No. 2 in the South region), Virginia (No. 1 in the East) and Michigan State (No. 4 in the East) each garnering a 6-percent shot at going all the way. 

In explaining his bracket model, Silver warned that “this year’s NCAA basketball tournament is designed to make me look dumb. There aren’t any favorites.” 

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While Louisville may lead the forecast at 15 percent, that still means “there’s an 85 percent chance that Louisville won't cut down the nets again and that I’ll be wrong.”

Nevertheless, he added, “All this ass-covering aside, we still think we can help you perform reasonably well in your office pool.”

FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver sits on the stairs with his laptop computer at a hotel in Chicago on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The statistician and journalist, then of the New York Times, correctly predicted the presidential winner in all 50 states, and almost all the Senate races.
FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver sits on the stairs with his laptop computer at a hotel in Chicago on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The statistician and journalist, then of the New York Times, correctly predicted the presidential winner in all 50 states, and almost all the Senate races.

Silver launched his new site Monday. A statistician and writer formerly of The New York Times, where he wrote about sports and politics, he gained widespread attention by correctly predicting the 2012 presidential election results in 50 out of 50 states – an accomplishment he maintains was “tremendously overrated.”   

“It wasn’t all that hard to figure out that President Obama, ahead in the overwhelming majority of nonpartisan polls in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Iowa and Wisconsin, was the favorite to win them, and was therefore the favorite to win the Electoral College,” he wrote Monday on his site. “Instead, our forecasts stood out in comparison to others in the mainstream media.”

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FiveThirtyEight will continue to cover politics and sports, plus economic, science, health and lifestyle news. It boasts “20 journalists and counting.”

The March Madness NCAA Tournament tips off with the “First Four” on Tuesday night, when eight teams square-off for the last four remaining spots in the larger bracket of 64. The wider tournament begins Thursday.