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


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:  12-54

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!

2017 Advice

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.

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