Back in my talk radio days, March Madness was always a great time for sports talk. This caller would like that team, and that caller would like this team. But the first time I found more than an opinion or educated guess on which team would win all the games — and this was back in maybe the late ’80s — was when Rob Neyer was a guest on my show. He was a friend of Eddie Epstein, who was then doing analytics for the Orioles — and that was good enough for me.

At the time, Neyer was sort of hawking something he had written — a year-by-year record of how this seed did against that seed. So suddenly, it became quantifiable that a No. 16 seed could never beat a No. 1 (I did tell you this was back in the ’80s) and that it was near impossible for a No. 15 to beat a No. 2. Since then, a No. 15 seed has gone on to beat a No. 2 seed eight times, including when Richmond defeated Syracuse at Cole Field House in 1991 and when Coppin State beat South Carolina in 1997.

So, I thought I’d do the research for you as you begin to pick winners for your bracket pool or just try to make some sense of this massive March road map that ironically will all take place in Indiana.

Despite what UMBC did against UVA a couple years back, No. 1 seeds have a 139-1 advantage against No. 16 seeds. Yes, No. 15 seeds have had a better time against No. 2 seeds, but the latter still has a 132-8 record. No. 14 seeds have pulled more upsets than No. 15 seeds, but No. 3 seeds still have an .850 winning percentage (119-21 record) in 3v14 matchups. No. 4 seeds have an imposing winning percentage of .793 (111-29) against No. 13 seeds.

You start to see a good bit more upsets from this point on in the first round …

No. 5 seeds are 90-50 against No. 12 seeds
No. 6 seeds are 88-52 against No. 11 seeds
No. 7 seeds are 85-55 against No. 10 seeds

The one matchup of the first round that produces a really lofty number of what we might term small upsets is the 8v9 game. No. 9 seeds have a 72-68 edge over No. 8 seeds.

When you get into the second round, No. 1 seeds have a commanding 55-13 mark against No. 8 seeds — an .809 winning percentage. No. 9 seeds don’t fare well against No. 1 seeds, either. It’s a 66-6 mark (.915) for the favorites. There is but a single 16v9 matchup, when No. 16 UMBC lost to No. 9 Kansas State in 2018 — the only chance a 16 has ever had to advance past the first weekend.

Still, the second round is where you start to see the level of upsets tick up a good bit …

No. 2 seeds are 57-25 against No. 7 seeds; 32-18, No. 10 seeds
No. 3 seeds are 44-28 against No. 6 seeds; 30-17, No. 11 seeds
No. 4 seeds are 40-33 against No. 5 seeds; 26-12, No. 12 seeds
No. 13 seeds are 3-14 against No. 5 seeds; 3-9, No. 12 seeds
No. 14 seeds are 2-14 against No. 6 seeds; 0-5, No. 11 seeds
No. 15 seeds are 1-2 against No. 7 seeds; 0-5, No. 10 seeds

In the event you are still reading along with this, you really must be desperate to see how this works out in the Sweet 16.

No. 1 seeds are 39-15 against No. 4 seeds; 34-8, No. 5 seeds; 20-0, No. 12 seeds; 4-0, No. 13 seeds
No. 2 seeds are 28-17 against No. 3 seeds; 23-6, No. 6 seeds, 13-2, No. 11 seeds
No. 7 seeds are 6-9 against No. 3 seeds; 3-4, No. 6 seeds, 0-4, No. 11 seeds, 1-0, No. 14 seed
No. 8 seeds are 5-4 against No. 4 seeds; 2-0, No. 5 seeds; 0-1, No. 12 seeds; 1-0, No. 13 seed
No. 9 seeds are 1-2 against No. 4 seeds; 2-1, No. 5 seeds; 1-0, No. 13 seed
No. 10 seeds are 4-9 against No. 3 seeds; 2-4, No. 6 seeds; 1-2, No. 11 seeds; 1-0, No. 14 seed

I really promise this won’t take too much longer … on to the Elite Eight …

No. 1 seeds are 23-4 against No. 2 seeds; 15-10, No. 3 seeds; 7-2, No. 6 seeds, 4-0, No. 7 seeds; 4-1, No. 10 seeds; 4-3, No. 11 seeds
No. 4 seeds are 4-2 against No. 2 seeds; 3-2, No. 3 seeds; 2-1, No. 6 seeds; 2-3, No. 7 seeds; 2-0, No. 10 seeds
No. 5 seeds are 4-0 against No. 2 seeds; 1-2, No. 3 seeds; 1-0, No. 6 seed; 1-0, No. 10 seed
No. 8 seeds are 3-2 against No. 2 seeds; 0-1, No. 3 seeds; 1-0, No. 6 seed; 1-0, No. 7 seed
No. 9 seeds are 1-0 against a No. 2 seed; 0-2, No. 3 seeds; 0-1, No. 11 seed
A No. 12 seed lost once to a No. 2 seed

So now that you have it, here is one more tidbit you might find surprising here in Baltimore. The city we hold in envy and angst for stealing away our Colts in the middle of the night is hosting much of this year’s NCAA Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the eighth time that Indianapolis has hosted one of the biggest events on the sports calendar.

In 1980, the Final Four was hosted at Market Square Arena, and in 1991, it was held at what was then called the Hoosier Dome. In 1997, 2000 and 2006 it was held at the renamed RCA Dome, and then in 2010 and 2015, it was held at Lucas Oil Stadium — same as this year. Indianapolis is scheduled to host its ninth Final Four in 2026.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Stan Charles

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