Do you want tournament bracket trends that will give you an edge when filling out your bracket this year? Lucky for you I’ve done the research so you don’t have to.
I’m sure you know to have a No. 12 picked to beat a No. 5 in your bracket. I’m sure my upset predictions will have one or two of those in there. But, this article goes more in depth to give you a better understanding of where the advantages lie.
Filling Out NCAA Tournament Bracket: Statistics on #1 Team & #1 Seeds
Struggles of No. 1 Ranked Team in the Nation
Here’s some food for thought that just might surprise you. Only eight teams since the beginning of the seeding process have entered the Big Dance ranked number one in at least one poll and went on to cut down the nets.
- Kentucky (1978)
- North Carolina (1982)
- Duke (1992)
- UCLA (1995)
- Michigan State (2000)
- Duke (2001)
- North Carolina (2009)
- Kentucky (2012)
This couldn’t have been more true than in 2018. No. 1 overall seed Virginia didn’t just fail to win it all, they became the first ever No. 1 seed to go down in the first round, losing 74-54 to No. 16 seed UMBC.
In 2014, No. 1 ranked Florida advanced to the Final 4, but would go on to lose to No. 7 seeded Connecticut, who followed that up be beating No. 8 Kentucky to win the title.
Almost everyone thought undefeated Kentucky was a lock to win the tournament in 2015. The NCAA tournament odds had them at more than a 50% chance of winning. But, that didn’t end up being the case. After barely scraping by Notre Dame 68-66 in the Elite 8, the Wildcats were defeated 64-71 by fellow No. 1 seed Wisconsin in the Final Four.
#1 Seeds in the Championship Game
Since the NCAA started seeding teams in 1979, the title game has featured two number one seeds only seven times. While this did just happen in 2017 with No. 1 Duke taking on No. 1 Wisconsin, it’s just the second time in the last 8 years. Last year it was No.1 Villanova vs No. 3 Michigan.
However, you can be confident that at least one No. 1 will make the Final Four. There’s only three times when it hasn’t happened. The most recent being 2011, where the highest seed to make the Final Four was No. 3 Connecticut (Prior two times was in 1980 & 2006).
With that said, it’s also not a good idea to pick all four No. 1’s to make the Final Four. While it happened not too long ago (2008), that’s the only time it has taken place. But, each No. 1 seeded team has about a 40% chance of making it out of their region.
Trends on Picking & Predicting Most Likely Upsets in March Madness
We all know it’s important to pick some live dogs when filling out our brackets, but we don’t want to pick the No. 16 over the No. 1 upset.
While the No. 1 seeds are no longer perfect in the first round, they are still 135-1 all-time. If you have a 16 over a one this year, you may want to rework your bracket.
A No. 15 has knocked off a No. 2 just 8 times. The most recent being #15 Middle Tennessee State over #2 Michigan State. However, it’s not worth the risk. No. 2’s are 128-8 versus No. 15’s overall.
We start to see a few more upsets when we get to the No. 3 vs No. 14 and No. 4 vs No. 13 showdowns. No. 3’s are 115-21 against No. 14 with the most recent upset in 2016 when No. 14 Stephen F. Austin defeated No. 3 West Virginia. As for No. 4’s, they are 108-28 against No. 13’s. Last year there were two No. 13 seeds who advanced to the Round of 32, as No. 13 Buffalo beat No. 4 Arizona and No. 13 Marshall upset No. 4 Wichita State.
The No. 5 versus No. 12 matchups are the ones that everyone talks about, and rightfully so. No. 5’s are just 89-47 against No. 12’s since 1985. That’s only a 65.4% success rate. It’s been even closer than that over the last 7 years, where No. 5 seeds hold a marginal 24-16 advantage and that’s with No. 5 seeds going a perfect 4-0 in 2018.
It was only the fifth time since 1985 that at least one No. 12 seed didn’t win.
While it doesn’t get as much hype, it’s not a bad idea to have a No. 6 seed go down in their first game. No. 11 seeds have a respectable 51-85 record in this matchup, including a shocking 8-4 record the last 2 years. In 2018 No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago didn’t just win in the first round, they made it all the way to the Final Four.
The No. 9 versus No. 8 game requires a little more research, as this has been a near 50/50 split with No. 8 seeds holding a slight 69-67 advantage.
How Far Does Cinderella Dance?
If you’re looking to pick Cinderellas, the furthest a 12 seed has made it is the Elite Eight (Missouri 2002).
Surprisingly, Loyola-Chicago run in 2018 wasn’t the furthest a No. 11 has made it. They became the fifth No. 11 seed to advance to the Final 4. The other four being Xavier (2017), LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011).
The lowest seed to win the NCAA Championship is a No. 8 seed, which was done by Villanova in 1985.
Out of the eight to upset a No. 2 seed, only one No. 15 has advanced to the Sweet 16 (Florida Gulf Coast, 2013). Check out the furthest each seed has gone in the tournament for more.
Connecticut became the first ever No. 7 seed to win it all in 2014, leaving only the No. 5 seeded as the only top 8 seed to have never won the title. With that said, there has been three occasions where a No. 5 seed has advanced to the championship game.
These trends should give you a better idea where the percentages lie when filling out your NCAA tournament bracket this March.