When you set out this week to fill out a bracket that will dominate your pool and bring your opponents to their knees, it will be important to keep NCAA Tournament seed history in mind. You want to pick a couple of upsets along the way, but successful brackets will have a strong understanding of history, and will reflect what has happened in the past. To help you draw up a winner here are some key numbers to keep in mind:
NCAA Tournament seed history: key numbers
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0 - In 112 matchups since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1. They have rarely even come close — last year’s seven-point loss to Syracuse by UNC Asheville was the first single-digit margin since 1997. Don’t pick a first-round loss by a No. 1. The chance for glory isn’t worth the near certainty of looking like an idiot.
6 — The No. 15 seeds have done somewhat better than the No. 16s have. In their 112 games they have won six times, including twice last year. Despite the stunning losses by Duke and Missouri last year, though, keep in mind that history indicates that the No. 2 still wins 95 percent of their openers. Last year was an anomaly, not a trend.
0 — There has never been a 7, 9 or 10 seed in the Final Four since 1985. The rest of the Top 11 seeds have multiple appearances, and a 6 and an 8 have won the tournament. A No. 11 has reached the Final Four three times.
1 — You need to make lots of chalk picks in your bracket, but making all of them has only paid off once — 2008 was the only time all four No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four. Twice — in both 2006 and 2011 — we have had the opposite experience, with no top seeds making the final weekend.
17 — A No. 1 seed has won the NCAA tournament in 17 of the 28 years of the 64 (or more)-team era. Kentucky’s win last year marked the fifth time in six years that the tournament winner had headlined their bracket. Last year was just the fifth time that the top overall seed in the tournament had won, and it was the first time since 1995 that it had happened. The non-No. 1 winners have included four No. 2 squads, four No. 3s, a No. 4, a No. 6 and a No. 8.
3 — Here’s a strange anomaly. There have been five instances in which a No. 1 has met a No. 11 in the Elite Eight. The 11 seeds are 3-2 in those matchups. That’s a strange anomaly, though — the top seeds are a combined 27-0 against teams seeded 10th, 12th, or 13th. No. 1 seeds are also unbeaten (4-0) when facing No. 7 seeds. Facing a No. 6 in the Elite Eight is not a particularly comfortable experience for a top seed — the lower ranked team has won five times in 15 tries.
21 — If you cheer for a team seeded No. 2, you should really hope that they don’t wind up playing a No. 10 in the round of 32. In 51 meetings, the lower seed has come out on top 21 times — a very respectable .412 winning percentage given the gap in quality between the seeds.
15 — No team has done better than Villanova when it comes to winning as a lower seed. The height of their accomplishment, of course, came in 1985 when they won it all as a No. 8. In 29 games played as a lower seed, though, they have come out on top 15 times. The only other team with at least 15 games played as a lower seed to have a winning record is Florida with eight wins in 15 tries. Duke’s first round upset last year wasn’t unprecedented — they lead all teams with 21 losses as the higher seed. They have played 94 games as a higher seed, though. Indiana fans should be more concerned this year — the Hoosiers have lost 15 times in just 48 games as the higher seed.
6 — Kansas and Wisconsin have the longest current streaks — six years — of making at least the round of 32. Purdue also shared that streak, but they obviously won’t be extending it this year.
70 — There has been an 8-vs.-9 matchup 136 times in the entire history of the NCAA Tournament. As you would expect, the battle has been a close one. After going 3-1 last year, the No. 8 seeds have opened up a slight 70-66 advantage.
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