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Daniel Wilco | | March 12, 2019

March Madness: Getting to know the No. 14 seed

  14th-seeded Cleveland State pulled off an 83-79 upset of third-seeded Indiana in the first round in 1989.

*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.

For 18 of the 34 years since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams, at least one 14 seed has triumphed over a 3 seed. The past two seasons are the first two since 2012 that 14 seeds went winless in their opening round games. The last 14 seed to pull off an opening-round upset came in 2016 when Stephen F. Austin, thanks to Thomas Walkup's 33 points, defeated No. 3 West Virginia, 70-56.

First Round: Stephen F. Austin upsets West Virginia
The 14 seed's first-round record is still just 21-115, but the likelihood of an upset is still higher than a 15 or 16 seed winning against a 2 or 1 seed.

Only two 14 seeds have ever advanced past the second round, and college basketball fans were treated to a big Cinderella story in 1986 when Cleveland State upset Indiana, 83-79, in the first round and then Saint Joseph's in the second round 75-69.

Cleveland State’s run in 1986 was special, but Chattanooga’s race to the Sweet 16 in 1997 did prove to be a bit more exciting. The Mocs pulled out a three-point win over third-seeded Georgia in the first round, 73-70. With the momentum in the second round, Chattanooga stormed past Illinois and into the Sweet 16 but lost to 10th-seeded Providence by six points.

No. 14 seeds are 11-9 in matches decided by 3 points or less. Before SFA, the last two 14-seed upsets — Georgia State against Baylor and UAB against Iowa State in 2015 — were both decided by one point.

The biggest upset in a 14 vs. 3 game — 14 points — is tied between SFA's win in 2016 and Ohio's 2010 win against Georgetown. Armon Bassett scored 32 points for the Bobcats and DJ Cooper added 23 to shock the Hoyas.

Bucknell came the closest in last season's tournament to pulling off an upset. But Michigan State prevailed, 82-78.

The 14 seed has also come on fairly strong in the last five years, where five of 24 matchups have gone to the lower-seeded team.


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