Data and predictions related to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket


Usually, and by usually, I mean 72% of the time, at least one 13-seed advances to the Second Round.  Two 13’s have advanced in the same tourney only twice in the last 29 tournaments, so it’s a decent bet that we’ll see a 13-seed advance this year.  It’s a dangerous upset pick, though, because four 4-seeds reach the Final Four almost as often as 3-seeds.  You’ll murder your bracket if you pick the wrong 4-seed to lose in the first round!

While we know we should pick a 13-seed to win in the Round of 64, should we consider advancing them to the Sweet 16?  Well, it’s happened five times in the past 25 years.  Two of those, though, were in the last five years.  *sniff, sniff*  Do I smell a trend?  Ahh, not quite yet.  Historically, 13-seed upsets have occurred in spurts.  I think we’re in the fourth year of at least a 5-year drought.

The most recent 13-seeds to reach the Sweet 16

  • 2013:  La Salle – beat (4-seed) Kansas State and (12-seed) Mississippi; also beat Boise State in the First Four
  • 2012:  Ohio – beat (4-seed) Michigan and (12-seed) South Florida
  • 2006:  Bradley – beat (4-seed) Kansas and (5-seed) Pittsburgh

A 13-seed has never reached the Elite 8.  So don’t even think about it!

Record in the Second Round (by seed matchup)

  • vs 12-seeds:  3-8
  • vs 5-seeds:  3-12

2017 Advice

One 13-seed will prevail in the First Round, but fail to advance to the Sweet 16.  Most likely 13-seed to advance is TBD.

Chances are good (70-75%) that a 13-seed will advance to the Round of 32.  There’s only about a 20% chance a 13-seed makes the Sweet 16.

Some strong 4 seeds have fallen victim to this upset in the past, so it’s not as simple as picking the weakest 4-seed.  It’s a pretty random upset.  If, in your research, you have a good feeling about a 13-seed, go for it.  If you like living on the edge (or maybe even past it), pick your 13-seed Cinderella to go to the Sweet 16 – especially if it’s in a region where you’ve already picked the 1-seed to win the region.

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