Busting Brackets: Upsets in the NCAA Tournament

Every year has the be the biggest or the best or the slowest or the worst. Sports live in a world of hyperbole where past years and past players are remembered through distorted filters of nostalgia. This is the year that basketball is down. It's horrible. There are no elite teams. There are no fundamentals!

Whatever. Go back to your era of short shorts and mis-remembered shooting prowess.

This was also supposed to be the tourney where parity reigned. There are no elite teams and the tourney was going to be a free-for-all. And that narrative is still percolating through the coverage. The 1-seeds struggled! I was right!

But how has the actual tournament gone?

Florida Gulf Coast became the 7th 15-seed to win a game. And a 14-seed (Harvard) advanced. All told, nine lesser seeds "upset" a higher seed in the opening round. I put that in brackets because the lower seed is often favored (St. Mary's, for example, was favored as an 11-seed over 6-seed Memphis).

The average number of 1st round upsets since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985: 8.1.

Three of the past four tourneys have featured 10 upsets. 1989 and 1999 had 12. And 2001 had 13. Six other tourneys have matched this year's 9. 62% of the tourneys have featured at least one 14-seed or lower advancing. All but four have had at least a 13-seed advancing.

So call this season what you will, but when people start calling it the biggest this or the weakest that, ask them for more than their opinion, ask for some data to back it up.