2015 NCAA Tournament Facts and Figures for Bracket Help
by Trevor Whenham - 3/17/2015
It's almost here - the greatest three weekends in sports. I don't know about you, but I can't wait. To get you ready for March Madness, here is a collection of NCAA Tournaments facts to get your brain working:
--There are approximately 147,573,952,589,676,412,928 different possible brackets with a 68-team field. Last year Warren Buffett got a whole lot of attention by offering a $1 billion prize for anyone who had a perfect bracket. Needless to say, he wasn't particularly worried about the risk involved in the offer. Look at it this way - if every person on the planet were to fill out a random bracket, the chances against someone having a correct bracket would still be more than a billion to one. It helps this year, though, that we have such an obvious and overwhelming favorite - unless Kentucky gets upset somewhere along the way.
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--Kentucky, of course, wears blue. When it comes to their pursuit of a championship, that is a very good thing. Louisville two years ago was the only champion in the last 13 years that have not had blue somewhere on their uniforms. Blue is apparently the color of success. That is good news for three of the four No. 1 seeds this year, and all four No. 2 seeds, but not so good for Wisconsin.
--Twenty three different teams have entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and gone on to win it all, so Kentucky should feel reasonably confident here - not that they don't already. When you look closer, though, the top seed isn't quite as dominant. Both Louisville and Kentucky have done it in the last three years, but they are the only two since 2001 and two of only six since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Most of the dominant tops seeds did so, then, when the tournament was smaller and significantly easier to win.
--You don't want to eat too much chalk when filling out your bracket. Only once in the 64-team era, in 2008, have we seen all four No. 1 seeds make the Final Four. Last year we saw just one - Florida. Though it seems very unlikely that we will not see any No. 1 seeds survive to the final weekend this year, it's more likely by far than seeing all of them advance. Three times - 1980, 2006 and 2011 - we have seen no No. 1s in the Final Four. Overall, though, picking a No. 1 to win it all is a pretty good idea - 18 of the last 30 winners have been seeded atop their region.
--David has yet to beat Goliath. One hundred and twenty times we have seen a No. 16 take on a mighty No. 1, and 120 times the outcome has been the same. In five of those games, though, the massive underdogs have come within four points. Back in 1989 we saw two No. 16 teams come within a single point of a win. At some point it seems likely that this kind of upset will happen, and when it does it is going to be almost impossibly huge. Just imagine what it would do to pools everywhere if Kentucky were to trip up in their opener this year.
--From a point spread perspective, there hasn't been a bigger upset in tournament history than when No. 15 Norfolk State shocked Missouri as 21.5-point underdogs in 2012. Missouri was pouting because they thought they should have been a No. 1, and they forgot to show up. Oops. In the championship game the biggest upset came in 1989 when UConn beat Duke as 9.5-point dogs.
--Last year only one No. 9 seed - Pitt - survived the first round. That has not been what we have expected historically. The 8-9 matchup is the only one in which the lower seed has an edge - though at 61-59 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, the advantage is hardly overwhelming. In the last four years, though, the No. 8 teams have been doing much better - they have won 11 of the last 16 meetings.
--This year's Final Four takes place in Indianapolis. It's the second time that the Lucas Oil Stadium has played host. Duke won the title there in 2010 and will be looking to do so again. Duke also won in Indianapolis in 1991. Florida, Michigan State, Arizona, and Louisville have also all cut down the nets in Indiana's biggest city over the years.
--It's obvious that there are massive amounts of profit generated from the NCAA Tournament, but do you know where it goes? Not into the NCAA coffers as you might expect. Half of the windfall is shared among all Division 1 schools based on the number of sports they play and the number of scholarship athletes they have. The rest goes to conferences, with the split determined by how the conference has fared in the NCAA Tournament in the last six years.
--Kentucky will be looking to make their 17th Final Four appearance this year. Barring a miraculous run by UCLA, that will tie them with the Bruins for the second-most appearances. North Carolina leads the way with 18 and will be looking to maintain their lead with another. Duke with 15 and Kansas with 14 will both be eager to grow their totals, too.
BYU is in the field yet again - something they are very familiar with. Unfortunately, they have not made the Final Four in any of their 28 previous appearances - a tournament record. As a No. 11 forced to play in Dayton to open their tournament, chances aren't good that that streak will end this year, either. Missouri has not made the tournament the last two years, so their streak of non-Final Four appearances sits at 25. Xavier is closing fast - they have had 24, and they are back this year.
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