March Madness: Getting to know the No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament
*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.
After the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, it took six years before a 15 seed knocked off a 2 seed, when Richmond beat Syracuse in 1991, 73-69. And every couple of years, a 15 seed shocks the college basketball world with a crazy upset.
We got that shocker last year when No. 15 Middle Tennessee never trailed in their opening round matchup on the way to upsetting No. 2 Michigan State 90-81.
The Spiders jumped out to an early 44-36 halftime lead and despite an Orange comeback in second, held on for the 73-69 win on March 14, 1991.
Know your seed
The 2012 NCAA tournament was particularly volatile for the 15 vs. 2 match-ups, as lower-seeded Norfolk State and Lehigh grabbed impressive wins in the first round on the same day. After 11 years of smooth sailing for second-seeded teams, Norfolk State eked out a win over Missouri and Lehigh built up enough momentum to beat Duke by five.
While the 15 seed sports a lowly winning percentage of 6.25, a good 25 percent of the matches have come to within single digits for the lower-seeded team, almost double the amount for the 16 seeds.
Only one 15 seed has advanced past the second round, when Florida Gulf Coast made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in 2013. In only its second year of full NCAA eligibility and first in the NCAA tournament, the Eagles shocked the college basketball world by not only beating second-seeded Georgetown by 10 points in the first round, but also beating seventh-seeded San Diego State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Louisiana Monroe and Belmont own the most 15 seed appearances, as both the Warhawks and the Bruins have four berths at that slot in the 31 years of the expanded tournament.
|1997||Coppin State||South Carolina||78-65|
|2013||Florida Gulf Coast||Georgetown||78-68|
|2016||Middle Tennessee||Michigan State||80-61|