March Madness Bracket Trends for Seeds
What is the key to filling out a successful bracket while also cashing bets? Well, there is no simple formula. Heck, some people base their picks off of mascot coolness. Others may put team names on a dartboard and see where their throws land. Whatever the case, a basic knowledge of NCAA Tournament seed history certainly can't hurt. Each seed -- No. 1 through No. 16 -- owns an extensive profile compiled over several decades of March Madness festivities that gamblers can use to their advantage.
Let's take a look at how all 16 seeds have performed throughout the illustrious history of the Big Dance.
No. 1: It took 135 games, but in the 136th a No. 1 seed finally succumb to a No. 16 seed. The Virgina Cavaliers will forever live in infamy as the unlucky No. 1 seed to break the unbeaten run as they lost to UMBC by a score of 74-54. The score gives us every indication of how close the game was, and that was not at all. UMBC took Virginia by storm, and the nation's No. 1 team couldn't muster up any response. At least one No. 1 seed has advanced to the Final Four in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
No. 2: No. 2 seeds own an all-time record of 128-8 in their opening-round matchup against the No. 15 seeds. Blindly penciling them into the second round would be a safe bet on most occasions. However, taking them against the spread is a risky proposition. Over the last 11 years, No. 2 seeds are just 32-21-1 ATS against their inferior opponents.
No. 3: A three-seed has advanced to the Final Four in just five of the last 12 installments of the NCAA Tournament, the most recent being Michigan in 2018 when they made the Finals and lost to Villanova. No. 3 seeds have gone 16-16 ATS versus No. 14 over the last eight years, but I like this year's quartet of teams, so I expect that ATS trend to get back into the better seeds' favor.
No. 4: No. 4 seeds own an all-time record of 108-28 against their opponents in the first round. Last year, all the No. 4 seeds split the results, with Auburn and Gonzaga advancing to the second round and Arizona and Wichita State coming up short. Coming into this tournament, No. 4 Seeds have made just three Championship Game appearances and managed to win the title only once (Arizona in 1997).
No. 5: No. 5 seeds are infamous for suffering first-round upsets. They are a mediocre 89-47 SU against 12th seeds after compiling a 4-0-mark last spring. The 2016 Big Dance was a typically mediocre one for this line, with no such team advancing past the Elite Eight and two going down right away (Purdue to Arkansas-Little Rock and Baylor at the hands of Yale). Zero No. 5 seeds have ever won the National Championship, and just two have reached the Final Four over the last 12 years (both Butler and Michigan State in 2010).
No. 6: Sixth seeds are 85-51 all-time against the No. 11 line. At least one has lost in the first round of the tournament dating back to 2004. The last No. 6 seed to reach the Final Four was Michigan -- led by the Fab Five -- back in 1992. From a betting perspective, No. 6 seeds are just 14-10 ATS over the last five years. Last year, No. 6 seeds went 2-2 SU and ATS.
No. 7: It has already been five years since the Connecticut Huskies won the National Championship as a seven-seed. There are only two other No. 7 seeds that have progressed past the Elite Eight, and those are Michigan State (2015) and South Carolina (2017). Last year, the No. 7 seeds went 3-1 SU and ATS against their opponents.
No. 8: In 1985, Villanova -- at No. 8 -- became the lowest-seeded team to ever win the National Championship. Only three such seeds have made Final Four appearances since. No. 8 seeds have reached the Final Four four times since 1985, with the last being Kentucky in 2014. Not surprisingly, the 8-9 matchup has extremely even with a 68-68 all-time advantage.
No. 9: It has been five years since the last No. 9 seed made deep run in the tournament. No. 9 Wichita State made the Final Four in 2013 before falling to the eventual champion Louisville. Last year, No. 9 seeds went 3-1 SU and 3-1 ATS. In the last eight years, No. 9 seeds have been favored in 18 of 30 games, which resulted in a record of 6-12 ATS.
No. 10: Just three years ago, the Syracuse Orange were gifted a second chance and a life into the tournament. They took full advantage and went on a run that saw them reach the Final Four before being knocked off by North Carolina.
No. 11: This is the lowest seed you will find in the record books when looking at the Final Four. Three times a No. 11 seed has made it to the Final Four, with the most recent being the VCU Rams in 2011. From a personal standpoint, my favorite tournament moment was watching No. 11 George Mason captivate America and reach the Final Four in 2006.
No. 12: This is usually where the upsets start to happen on a more frequent basis. At least one No. 12 seed has won a first-round game in 16 of the past 19 tournaments. They are a stellar 26-17-1 ATS over the last 11 years and 15-8-1 ATS over the last six. If you are putting together a bracket, this would be the first place to look for an upset pick. Unfortunately, the furthest a No. 12 seed has progressed in the tournament was the Elite Eight appearance by Missouri in 2002.
No. 13: It's been a rather tough go for No. 13 seeds as well. None have reached the Elite Eight in six tries. The latest team to lose in the Sweet 16 was La Salle back in 2013. This year, No. 13 seeds are in tough for their openin-round matchups against a quartet of excellent teams in Florida State, Kansas State, Kansas and Virginia Tech.
No. 14: When you compare the No. 14 seed to the futility of the 15- and 16-seeds, it's not all that bad. No. 14 has an all-time record of 21-115, which is essentially triple the number of wins of the 15 and 16-seeds combined. The most recent No. 14 to make a splash in the tournament was Stephen F. Austin in 2016 when they took out West Virginia. No 14-seed has managed to make it past the second round since Chattanooga did it in 1997, when they made the Sweet 16.
No. 15: Fifteen-seeds have provided moneyline betters with handsome rewards on eight separate occasions. The latest No. 15 seed to do so was the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders defeated the second-seeded Michigan State Spartans in an upset for the ages. The Blue Raiders were +16.5-point underdogs, which is the fifth-largest upset in tournament history. Unfortunately, no 15-seed has made it past the second game and into the Sweet 16.
No. 16: It took 135 tries before lucky No. 136 provided the upset for the ages as No. 16 UMBC completely dominated No. 1 Virginia. It was the first lost by a No. 1 seed in the first round in the history of the tournament, and it's likely something we don't see happen again for quite some time.
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