The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has already given us our share of surprises. In some ways, however, the 2014 edition of March Madness has only been as upset-ridden as most other tournaments.
Many fans are excited and surprised by this year’s Cinderella story — the No. 11 seed Dayton Flyers‘ appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. However, the numbers show that almost every tournament has seen a double-digit seed appear in the Sweet Sixteen.
More specifically, since the tournament went to the current format, every year except for two years — or 28 out of 30 years (or 93 percent), including 2014 — March Madness brackets have seen at least one double-digit seed advance to the round of 16. In 1999, five double-digit seeds made the Sweet Sixteen! Most years see two or three double-digit seeds advance to the second week.
March Madness means that we need to expect the unexpected. If the NCAA tournament went according to form, the Sweet Sixteen would consist of the top four seeds from each region. Instead, we see a scattering of seeds advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four.
As we look forward to the Elite Eight and Final Four, keep in mind that randomness rules. Can you guess how many No. 1 seeds typically get to the Final Four? Most of us would guess three or four top seeds advance to the Final Four, but historical results show that this is not the case. Only one tournament has seen all four No. 1 seeds advance to the Final Four; 10 percent of the tournaments have seen three top seeds in the Final Four. The numbers show that 80 percent of tournaments only have one (41 percent) or two seeds (38 percent) advancing to the Final Four.