March Madness Trends: Seed Statistics



Historically, it seems that earning a top seed in the NCAA March Madness Tournament provides a massive advantage. In fact, top seeds are almost four times more likely to win the championship compared to second-seeds. In this article, we’ve gone back to the start of the modern bracket era and used the results of each round in the tournament to calculate the odds of each seed making it to the next rounds, which may provide some assistance in filling out your brackets. Let’s take a look at how these historical results play out.

First Round (Round Of 64)

While this may be obvious, the first round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament is the most predictable. With the first to fourth seeds, it seems that we can advance these teams in our brackets without worrying too much about potential upsets. This year, in the 2018 March Madness Tournament, was the first time that we witnessed a number one seeded team get upset (Virginia Cavaliers). Additionally, the only real surprises were that the 12th seeded teams tended to perform just as well against fifth seeded teams as 11th seeded teams performed against sixth seeded teams. With these matchups, you may have to dig a bit deeper to determine which 12th and 11th seeded teams would be most likely to pull off upsets.

Second Round (Round Of 32)

Compared to the first round, there’s usually quite a bit of variation in the second round versus what would typically be expected based strictly on seeding. From historical records, ninth seeded teams have been terrible in the second rounds, whereas 10th seeded teams have won their second round games half of the time. When taking a look at top ranked teams at this point in the tournament, they’re still relatively safe bets, as one upset tends to happen every three to four years – not too bad.

Third Round (Sweet 16)

In this third round, or what’s known as Sweet 16, this is the round where you’ll start to find that the better ranked teams will really start to settle in and find their grooves. For first to third seeded teams, chances are, these teams will advance to the next round. Again, when choosing teams for your bracket, you’d likely want to be more cognizant of this fact.

Fourth Round (Elite Eight)

The fourth round, also known as the Elite Eight, appears to be the biggest equalizer. Teams who have reached this point in the tournament are obviously very talented and have either had relatively easy brackets or have had to overcome some tough obstacles to get to where they are. As a result, with only four games played during the Elite Eight round, this round presents many opportunities for upsets to happen. At this point, nothing is really guaranteed, with the exception of top seeded teams, who have posted a 59% win rate at this point in the tournament. You’d be prudent to take a closer look at these matchups.

Fifth Round (Final Four)

The fifth round, also referred to as the Final Four, is when no team will be a tough out. The four teams have gotten to this point for a reason, and nothing is guaranteed. This means that if you’ve picked a team outside of the top seed to make it this far, there’s no reason that you should feel obligated to pick them to lose at this point.

Sixth Round (Championship Game)

It should come as no surprise that the top seeded teams tend to win the Championship more often than any other seed, especially considering the fact that seven Championship games have featured two top seeded teams vying for eternal glory. Additionally, there’s yet to be a team seeded higher than eighth to reach the title game, but at some point, one would have to assume that a ninth of 10th seeded team will break through.