The greatest single time in sports every year is drawing near ó the day we get to fill out our NCAA Tournament brackets. We wonít have a really good
sense of how to fill out a winning bracket until the field is
set and we see what path each team has to follow to get to the promised land. History plays a big role in how to fill out a bracket, though, so letís fill
the time until Selection Sunday by looking at some NCAA Tournament seed history.
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NCAA Tournament seed history: key numbers
Most fans ó from the casual to the most committed ó want, on some level, to see a No. 16 seed shock the world and pull off an impossible upset of a No. 1.
History is not kind on this front. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams (and now more), there have been 116 games between the top teams and the bottom
dwellers, and the No. 1 teams have an unblemished record. Last year provided the most hope on this front that we have seen, though. From 1997 to 2012 only
one No. 16 team had come as close as seven points away from an upset. Last year Western Kentucky came within seven points of Kansas, and Southern only lost
to Gonzaga by six points. This is one of the most wide-open tournament fields we have seen in a long time, so maybe this is the year that a top seed
becomes famous for all the wrong reasons.
When Florida Gulf Coast stunned Georgetown last year they became the seventh No. 15 to upset a No. 2, and the third in the last two years. The gap between
top seeds and feisty mid-major conference winners isnít nearly as big as it used to be.
There has never been a single No. 7 or No. 10 seed in the Final Four. Every other seed has been represented at least once. No. 9 was the last seed to fall,
but Wichita State broke that drought last year.
A lot of years it seems like the No. 1 seeds are dominant, and itís hard to imagine how any of them are going to lose until they run into another No. 1.
2008 was the only time, though, that all four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four. It has been twice as common for no No. 1 seeds to advance ó that
happened in 2006 and again in 2001. Louisville was the only top seed to advance last year.
Louisville won as a top seed last year. That marked the 18th time since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that a No. 1 has cut down the nets. Six of
the last seven winners have been No. 1 seeds, so unless you are looking to gamble, making a chalky pick for the winner is probably a good idea.
A No. 11 has met up with a No. 1 in the Elite Eight five teams. Oddly, the lower seed has a 3-2 edge in those matchups. We didnít come close to seeing an
upset last year, though. Minnesota was the only No. 11 to win a game, and they lost their second game. The success of the No. 11 teams in these situations
is particularly odd because No. 1 teams have a combined record of 31-0 against No 7, 10, 12 and 13 teams.
Since 1985 we have seen a No. 10 pull off a first-round upset and meet up with a No. 2 in the second round 52 times. The higher seeds have an edge in the
meetings but not nearly as much of one as they should have given the difference in quality between the teams on paper. The No. 10 teams have won 21 of the
52 meetings, which is a solid .404 win percentage.
Villanova loves being a lower seed. Thirty times since 1985 they have tipped off as the lower seed in the game. They have wildly exceeded expectations,
winning exactly half of those games. They fell in their opener as a No. 9 seed last year, but they can always look back fondly on 1985 when they won five
games as the lower seed to take down the title as a No. 8 seed. Florida is the only team with at least 15 games as a lower seed to have a winning record ó
they have won eight of 15. As a likely No. 1 seed this year, though, that success will be irrelevant. On the flip side, Duke leads the way with 21 losses
as a higher seed. They won three games as a higher seed last year, though, and have played 97 in total, so their winning percentage as a higher seed is
Kansas has bragging rights as the team with the longest streak of winning at least one game and advancing at least to the Round of 32. Last year they were
tied with Wisconsin at six straight years. While Kansas won two games last year, though, Wisconsin was upset as No. 5 by Ole Miss in the opening round last
As you would expect, the first-round showdowns between No. 8 and No. 9 is the tightest of battles. The teams went 2-2 in their four games last year, so the
higher seeds maintained their slight four-game advantage ó they are 72-68 since 1985.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham