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BYU's win over Iona defies extreme odds

By Andrew Wittenberg | Posted - Mar. 14, 2012 at 7:14 p.m.



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PROVO — The BYU Cougars made history Tuesday after coming back from a 25-point deficit against Iona, advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Following the game, the state of Utah was all abuzz about the Cougars' win.

It was a historical night in Dayton, Ohio as the Cougars became the first team in NCAA tournament history to come back from a 25-point deficit to win. The improbable comeback had many fans switching back to the game after half time.

Cougar Tracks:

BYU statistics professor Gil Fellingham watched on TV as a fan, but thought about turning the game off early when the Cougars were trailing by double digits.

"Maybe I just need to turn this game off because it's too painful to watch," Fellingham recalls thinking. "And then, you kind of hang in there and watch BYU start coming back and you're just stunned."

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On Wednesday morning, Fellingham put on his professor hat and did the math. Not only was it the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history, the odds of BYU winning the game down by 25 in the first half are staggering.

"It looks to me like roughly 2,500 games have been played, so this is an event one time in 2,500," Fellingham described.

It is the same odds as a person being struck by lightning in a lifetime or an average person winning an Academy Award. The specific odds for a team coming back from a 25- point deficit is about .0004 of a point.

Fellingham estimates the earliest this might happen again could be 40 years from now.

And although the Cougars beat some big odds, it appears that many turned away from the game before the Cougars made their historic comeback.

Now, the Cougars look to the second round to take on the third-seeded Marquette, where the odds may be stacked even higher. But after Tuesday night's game, many fans have faith the Cougars can do it again.

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Andrew Wittenberg

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