Every seed match-up dissected



If you consult only one source to make your bracket picks this year, this is it. Every seed match-up that has ever occurred in the 23-year history of the 64/65-team era is analyzed here. Want to know the factors that lead to upsets in each match-up—or which favorites are most likely to stave off darkhorse uprsings? Check out the round-by-round match-up analyses here.





1v16 | 92-0, 1.000 | ’06>’07: No change (NC)

For 23 years and 92 games, top seeds have maintained their perfect record of dominance against No. 16 seeds. Here’s an idea: let’s put a moratorium on talk of expanding the number of teams in the tourney until a No. 16 finally springs the ultimate upset. Then we’ll know that there’s enough parity in college basketball to warrant a bigger dance.


Near Misses: Purdue 73, West Carolina 71 (1996). Michigan State 75, Murray State 71 OT (1990). Oklahoma 72, East Tennessee State 71 (1989). Georgetown 50, Princeton 49 (1989...and Tiger partisans still insist Mourning’s last-second block was a foul).


2v15 | 88-4, .957 | ’06>’07: +.002

Once every six years or so, a No. 15 seed shocks a No. 2 seed. The last victim was Iowa State...seven tourneys ago.  Winthrop darn near bumped off Tennessee in 2006, losing by just two at the buzzer. The closest 2007 2v15 match-up saw Wisconsin beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi by 13—then get upset in the second round by UNLV. While the time might be ripe for another upset, I wouldn’t pencil it into your bracket.


Upset watch: All the No. 15 seed Cinderellas came into the tourney winning nine of their last ten games and at least three in a row. They all had regular-season records no higher than .800, indicating that they played their share of tough teams. And they all got balanced scoring from the back- and frontcourt, averaging between 37% and 58% of their scoring from guards. No. 15 seeds satisfying these three attributes are 4-10 against their No. 2 seed opponents. The rest of the No. 15 seeds are 0-78. Last year, Belmont fit the bill for a No. 15 seed Cinderella, but Georgetown stomped them, 80-55.


Upset History: Hampton over Iowa State, 2001. Coppin State over South Carolina in 1997. Santa Clara over Arizona, 1993. Richmond over Syracuse, 1991.


3v14 | 77-15, .837 | ’06>’07: +.007

Two out of every three tourneys are bad news for No. 3 seeds. The 2006 Iowa Hawkeyes and 2005 Kansas Jayhawks were most recently victimized. No. 3 seeds are nearly four times more prone to first-round upsets than two seeds. More amazingly, they’re less likely to win one game in the tourney than top seeds are to win two. (Only 12 No. 1 seeds have failed to reach the Sweet Sixteen.) But it still doesn’t make any sense to pick No. 3 seeds to lose in round one. Too many have won championships to eliminate them early.


Upset watch: The No. 14 seeds most likely to spring upsets are high scoring squads averaging more than 76.5 points a game. They’re 13-23 (.361) while their lower scoring counterparts are just 2-54 (.036). The tell-tale sign of a No. 3 seed victim is a tight margin of victory. No. 3 seeds that beat opponents by an average of less than 12 points are five times more prone to upsets (13 losses in 51 tries for a 25.5% upset rate) than No. 3 seeds that win by a comfortable margin (only 2 losses in 41 tries for an 4.9% upset rate). The closest 3v14 game in 2007 was Oregon’s narrow 58-56 escape against Miami (OH)—and the Ducks did have a victory margin of only 10.5 points.


Recent Upsets: Northwestern State over Iowa, 2006. Bucknell over Kansas, 2005. Weber State over North Carolina, 1999. Richmond over South Carolina, 1998

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