March Madness Bracketology – 2012

Mar 13, 2012

Before you begin filling out your NCAA Tournament brackets, I strongly recommend reviewing the historical information contained below as it should assist you in prevailing in your March Madness office pool and/or in earning bragging rights with your friends.  Keep in mind that at least one Top 4 seed has lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 23 of the last 27 years, while No. 15 and No. 16 seeds have only won 4 of 216 games!


Teams have been seeded 1 through 16 since 1985 and, since that time, a No. 16 seed has never defeated a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament (0-108).  With this empirical evidence in hand, you should never select a No. 16 seed to win in your bracket.  Also keep in mind that No. 1 seeds have made it to the Sweet Sixteen 87% of the time, and have posted a 94-14 record in the second round.  No 1. seeds are 41-10 versus No. 8 seeds and 53-4 against No. 9 seeds in the second round.


Since 1985, No. 15 seeds are a terrible 4-104 (3.7%) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Indeed, a No. 15 seed has not defeated a No. 2 seed in eight years when Hampton pulled an incredible upset over Iowa State.  While Belmont nearly defeated Duke a few years ago, you should side with the No. 2 seeds in your office bracket as they present the best value from a historical (and probability) standpoint.  After the first round, No. 2 seeds have not been as reliable as at least one No. 2 seed has been defeated in the second round in 12 of the last 13 years.  Please keep in mind that No. 2 seeds are 70-34 in the second round, including 47-17 versus No. 7 seeds and 23-17 against No. 10 seeds.

Bracket Tip: Avoid all No. 15 and No. 16 seeds at all costs in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament as these teams are a combined 4-212 (1.9%).


While No. 14 seeds have enjoyed slightly more success than No. 15 seeds, they remain an unreliable 16-92 (14.8%) since 1985. I should also note that the sixteen No. 14 seeds that managed to escape the opening round with a win are 2-14 in the second round of the Tournament. Once again, historical trends and mathematical probability dictate avoiding No. 14 seeds in your office bracket.


No. 13 seeds have a slightly better probability of succeeding in the first round of the Tournament as evidenced by their 23-85 (21.3%) record since 1985.  Since 2008, No. 13 seeds have been a solid choice in brackets all over the country.  However, before going crazy and choosing more than one No. 13 seed to succeed in the opening round game, keep in mind that multiple 13 seeds have won only three times over the last 27 years.

Bracket Tip: Choose the Top 4 seeds to advance in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Moreover, at least one of the Top 4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament have reached the Final Four 85% of the time since 1985 (92-of-108 spots).  Let’s also note that a top seed (#1 thru #3) has found itself in the national championship game 83.3% of the time since 1985, while a No. 1 seed has played in the national championship game 46.3% of the time over the last 26 years.


Historically, No. 12 seeds have been very good in the NCAA Tournament as they are 36-72 (33.3%) since 1985.  Based on that historical trend, you should always pick at least one No. 12 seed to win their first round game, and that conclusion is supported by the fact that one or more No. 12 seeds have won in 22 of the last 26 Tournaments.


No. 11 seeds are a modest 36-72 (33.3%) since 1985, and at least one No. 11 seed has won a game in nine of the last ten Tournaments.

Bracket Tip: Choose at least one No. 11 and/or No. 12 seed as these teams have each won 36 games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament over the last 27 years, which is an average of 1.33 wins per year.


Since 1985, No. 10 seeds are 43-65 (39.8%) in the first round of the Tournament. You should also know that a No. 10 seed has never advanced to the Final Four, but eighteen No. 7 seeds have reach the Sweet Sixteen Round over the last 27 years.


Since 1985, No. 9 seeds are a decent 57-51 (52.8%) in the first round of the Tournament.  While picking a No. 9 seed to prevail in the first round appears to be a smart move, be advised that a No. 9 seed has never advanced past the Elite Eight.  More importantly, only one No. 9 seed has advanced to the Elite Eight since 1985!

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Jeff Keim

Oskeim Sports Consulting, LLC