This year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been a doozy. Not only did VCU and Butler crash the party, but for the first time ever, there are no 1- or 2-seeds in the Final Four.
If we add up the value of each of the remaining seeds, we get the largest sum ever for a Final Four (26). But just how strange is that?
Below we take a look at the seeds to make the Final Four in each season since the tournament expended to 64 teams (1985). The numbers to the left of the blue line represent the seeds of one Final Four matchup, while the bars to the right of the blue line represent the other semi-final matchup…
Certainly this year’s Final Four is the extreme. But it’s not totally unprecedented. In 2000, a 5-seed and two 8-seeds gave a combined seeding of 22. And in 2006 when George Mason made their improbable run as an 11-seed, those four teams combined for a seeding total of 20.
Does this mean the NCAA tournament is flawed? If you would like to see the top four seeds in the Final Four each year, then maybe. We have seen that just as many times as we have seen an 8-seed and 11-seed meet in the Final Four (once).
But if you would just like to see the best teams more often, with occasional upsets, than this is the format for you. Of the 108 Final Four teams since 1985, 68 (63.0%) have been a 1- or 2-seed. Meanwhile, only 16 teams (14.8%) seeded no. 5 or lower have made it this far.
This has been one crazy tournament. But until we see this happen again next year, we are going to assume that this is just one extreme in a variable process.
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