I am going to start off by admitting I am not the advanced stats guy on the site here, and I cannot properly explain myself how FiveThirtyEight went about determining this beyond quoting them here:
Though there are no actual games to be played, FiveThirtyEight is still taking a shot at a little March Madness. We built an NCAA Tournament bracket, using ESPN’s Bracketology, and we’re simulating the results of each game by using a simple “100-sided dice roll” against our forecast probabilities. We’ve played out our first and second rounds, the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and the Final Four; here’s how the title game might have gone down.
Now, it is fairly straight forward that the simulation they ran gave MSU a 40 percent chance of winning this match-up. The Michigan State Spartans proceeded to prove why Mr. March earned that name and clinched a nail-biter by a single point for Coach Izzo’s second banner and MSU’s third. The Kansas Jayhawks had just about every conceivable advantage on their side (besides Cassius Winston at point guard), but the Spartans showed the Jayhawks who the better team was and claimed the banner.
If you would like to read the full recap of the simulated game, you can find it here. Beyond that, I look forward to the banner raising in the Brez come midnight madness this fall.