NCAA Tournament Seed History Trends
We are just a few days away from March Madness officially starting! Before you fill out your brackets though, take a second to look at some of these important numbers to note about the history of the NCAA Tournament.
No “1” Left Behind: It’s a well-documented fact. Not a single No. 1 seed has ever lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams. Top seeds are a whopping 112-0 in those first round tourney games, and there aren’t all that many examples of games that were all that close either. Last year, the Syracuse Orange only lost by seven to the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, marking just the 12th time that a #16 has even stuck within 10 against a top seed.
Feisty 15 Seeds: Last year, we saw one of the most thrilling opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament to date. The Norfolk State Spartans upset the Missouri Tigers 86-84 as 21-point underdogs, and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks took down the Duke Blue Devils 75-70 as 11-point underdogs. Do you know how shocking that truly is? There were only four No. 15s to ever beat No. 2s prior to last year in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
Busting Brackets: Your NCAA Tournament brackets are often made or broken by upsets. Everyone thinks that they know which No. 13 is going to get into the Sweet 16, or which No. 9 could end the season prematurely of a top seed to get to the second week of play in the dance. However, you have to remember that there aren’t nearly as many upsets as it seems like there should be in the NCAA Tournament’s first round. There were 10 first round upsets last year where the higher seed ultimately knocked off the lower seed, but that was actually a relatively high number.
The NCAA Tournament average has been just 8.2 upsets per season since 1985, though there have been 10 upsets three times in the last four years in the dance. Still, keep in mind that there are 32 games to choose from in the opening round, so there really aren’t as many tremendous upset spots as one might think.
And the rest…
Here are the stats for how seeds have fared against each other in the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams…
1 vs. 16: 112-0 (100.0%)
2 vs. 15: 106-6 (94.6%)
3 vs. 14: 96-16 (85.7%)
4 vs. 13: 88-24 (78.6%)
5 vs. 12: 74-38 (66.1%)
6 vs. 11: 74-38 (66.1%)
7 vs. 10: 67-45 (59.8%)
8 vs. 9: 54-58 (48.2%)
Historically, No. 9 seeds are actually favored against No. 8 seeds 53% of the time, and it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the end result is that the No. 9s are coming out on top more often than not.
Another fun fact? At least one No. 12 seed has won in the NCAA Tournament in 22 of the L/24 NCAA Tournaments. Last year, the South Florida Bulls and the VCU Rams advanced out of the 5/12 games as No. 12 seeds, and that marked the 11th time in the last 12 years that at least two of the No. 12s made it into the Round of 32.