Top 10 NCAA March Madness Tournament Facts and TrendsSo you want to fill out a bracket. Whether you like college basketball or not this is something anybody can do. You could just pick based off mascots if you wanted to. The name of the game is anything can happen. Sometimes the more you know the worse off it is for you. Don’t over think it, but here’s what the historical trends say whether you trust the numbers or roll the dice and wing it that’s up to you.
If you’re going by history You can almost certainly pick all 4 of the 1 seeds in round 1. They are near perfect and most of the time the games aren’t even close. The only 16 seed to beat a 1 seed was UMBC beating Virginia in 2018. Dammit Virginia why do you ruin everything this is why nobody likes you In the past five tournaments, all 20 matchups have been decided by 14 points or more and that’s including UMBC's amazing 20-point shocker against Virginia. Dating back to 1998, only 4 of 88 matchups have been decided by single digits, all of which came in a three-year span (2012-14).
So basically you can feel comfortable picking the 2 seeds here. three of those wins came in 2012 and 2013. In the six tournaments since, No. 2 seeds are 23-1, with the only upset being Middle Tennessee over Michigan State in 2016. Most games haven't been close, either, as 21 of those 23 wins by No. 2s came by double figures. In 2019, the Tennessee-Colgate game, which the Vols won by 7, was the closest 2/15 game since 2012.
A 5 vs 12 matchup is a common upset pick most people are too shy to pick against the top 4 seeds so this is where they start with upsets usually. The 2019 tournament marked the third time in the past seven tourneys that No. 12 seeds won three of the four meetings. In that same seven-year span, No. 5s have swept the four matchups twice, though. Some 12 seeds I like as upsets this year are Georgetown and Winthrop
Again you can feel comfortable picking a 3 seed to win here they have swept all 4 matchups in each of the last 3 tournaments however at least one 3/14 matchup has been decided by single digits in each of the past 10 tournaments. In 2019, LSU held off an upset bid by Yale to win by five in Jacksonville. Also something to note The past three No. 3s to lose in the first round all came from the Big 12: West Virginia (2016), Baylor (2015) and Iowa State (2015). Guess what? There are not one, not two, but three Big 12 teams as No. 3 seeds this year: Kansas, Texas and West Virginia.
This has been another trendy upset pick for a lot of people In the first 25 years of the modern tournament era, No. 6 seeds won 69% of the time. But in the past 10 tournaments, they have won just 47.5% of meetings. The last time all 4 6 seeds won was 2004 and 1989 was the last time all 11 seeds won. So it’s unlikely that we see a sweep. Best bet would be to pick at least one 11 seed to advance
4 seeds win between 75-80% of the time but the games are generally much more competitive than the rate would suggest. In the past 10 tournaments, more than half of the meetings were decided by single digits. And in the past two tourneys, five of the eight matchups were single-digit affairs. It’s not unreasonable to pick at least one 13 seed to win
Essentially, that means it happens about once every two years on average. Which means it’s not unreasonable to pick a lower seed to make the sweet 16 but don’t go too crazy with that however
This one is a bit of a toss up however In 2019, No. 10 seeds won three of four games with 7-seeds for the first time since 2010 and just the 5th time ever.
In 2019, No. 9 seeds won all four meetings for the first since 2001 by an average margin of 16.0 points, to boot -- and they are 7-1 in the past two tournaments. I know it’s better than to read anything into this, but it's fun to look into these things regardless. So maybe lean towards the 9 seeds because this isn’t the toss up you’d expect
You can expect at least one team seeded 10th or worse to advance to the second week of play including 12 straight since the field expanded to 64 teams. There has never been an Elite Eight without a No. 1 seed present, and 32 of 35 Elite Eights have featured at least two top seeds (2000, 2011 and 2013 are the only tourneys with just one No. 1 seed). In case you're wondering, all four No. 1 seeds have reached the Elite Eight on eight occasions, although that has happened only once in the past 10 tourneys (2016). there have been multiple teams seeded worse than fourth in the Elite Eight in 18 of 35 years. And in four of the past six tournaments, there has been multiple teams seeded 6th or lower in the elite 8