Can a 16th seed finally upset the no. 1 seed? In the history of the NCAA, there had been double-digit seeded teams that made it all the way to the Final Four. An 8th seeded team that won the title. A 15th seeded team qualifying for the Sweet 16. Still a 16th seed beating the top team remains elusive.
When March Madness resumes on Thursday, this question will slowly but surely get answers. An article published in Yahoo Sports gave us some background on the possible answers to this question. In the history of the NCAA, 16th seeded teams have a joint 0-124 since the league expanded to 64 teams in 1985. But with the schools that qualified to the Round of 64, it is likely for upsets to finally happen. Not to mention that over the last four years, there has been an increase in the growth rate of teams getting clipped early on.
Another reason that a 16th seed will finally upset a no. 1 seed is the four teams who emerged no. 1 this year namely Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Oregon enters competing for a joint 23 losses, which is 14 games greater than any group of top seeds in history. Aside from that, twenty no. 1 seeds have failed to win their conference tournaments meaning that they have not truly distinguished themselves from their opponents. In addition, the quality of the top teams this year is something that can be measured both qualitatively and statistically.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett also believes that any 16th seeded team can wield the upset axe on the top seeds. “These teams can play. Just because we have the higher seed and they are lower seeded, throw that stuff out.”
There have been games when a 16th seed was close to beating a top-seeded team. For example, two years ago, Coastal Carolina was close to toppling Virginia when they engaged latter to a tied game only to fall. In 1990, Murray State battled Michigan State to overtime before falling 75 – 71.
While a year in and year out, the answer to the question had always been a resounding “no,” 2016 may finally be the year when the improbable will happen.
Photo Courtesy: NCAA Basketball Wikia.org