The poor 8-seeds. First they play against a team (the 9-seed in their region) that should be a fairly even match. Not an easy win and there’s no fanfare if they do win. Then if they win, they have to face the 1-seed in the very next round. Only the 13-16 seeds have a lower chance of reaching the Sweet 16 than the 8- and 9-seeds. Overall, 9-seeds have had a slight upper hand in their series against the 8-seeds. In the last decade, however, the trend has reversed and the 8-seeds have little bit more success. In an evenly matched series, though, you’d expect streaks and trends to go back and forth a little.
Overall, 63 (of 128) 8-seeds advanced to the Round of 32. 11 went on to the Sweet 16, and 7 reached the Elite 8. Four 8-seeds have reached the Final 4, 3 made the championship game, and one was crowned champion.
Over the last 10 years, 23 (of 40) advanced to the Round of 32. 3 went on to the Sweet 16 and 2 advanced all the way to the Championship Game where they both lost.
Record in the Second Round (by seed matchup)
- vs 1-seeds: 12-52
Feats of Strength
- The only three 8-seeds to make a run all the way to the Championship Game:
- 2014: Kentucky
- 2011: Butler
- 1985: Villanova went on to win the Championship in the first year the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams.
- An 8-seed advanced to the Sweet 16 every other year from 1996-2004.
- All four 8-seeds advanced to the Round of 32 once – in 2002, one year after none of them advanced. Crazy!
Two 8-seeds will advance only to be beaten by a 1-seed in their next games.
At least one 8-seed will win their first game. Assuming the trend over the last decade holds, two or three 8-seeds will advance. Also, only one 8-seed won their First Round game last year. That’s happened 6 times, and every time the 8-seeds rebounded with at least 2 wins the following year. Now, there’s a 50-50 chance a 1-seed will lose in the Round of 32, but there’s also an equal chance that it’ll be an 8- or a 9-seed.
You might as well flip a coin to pick these First Round matchups. If you really like an 8-seed, go ahead and pick them to win their first game. You probably shouldn’t pick an 8-seed to beat a 1-seed, but hey, you could do a lot worse.