Why it is getting harder to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket

Out of more than 13 million brackets filled out for ESPN’s “Tournament Challenge” in 2016, only 1,140 (0.009%) correctly picked all four Final Four teams, which included just one 1-seed (North Carolina) two 2-seeds (Oklahoma, Villanova), and a 10-seed (Syracuse). And a scan of those who did pick all four correctly showed that many of those brackets were filled out by Syracuse fans.

The biggest reason that picking the Final Four correctly has become so hard is that there is more parity in college basketball than ever before. In 2008, all four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four for the first time. Since then, there is actually a greater chance of a team seeded No. 4 or lower (40.6% of all Final Four teams) to reach the Final Four than a 1-seed (31.3%).

The numbers are even crazier when we look at low seeds. From 1985 through 2008, 43.8% of all Final Four teams were 1-seeds and only 5.2% of Final Four teams were seeded No. 7 or lower. In the eight years since, only 31.3% of Final Four teams were top seeds and a whopping 21.9% of teams were not considered one of the top 24 teams (seeds 1-6) when the tournament started.

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