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Daniel Wilco | | March 21, 2019

The world's favorite 16 seed to win a game in the 2019 NCAA tournament

Is this the greatest upset in NCAA tournament history?

NCAA tournament fans never forget. But in case you did: Last year, Virginia became the first-ever 1-seed to lose its opening-round game to a 16-seed. 

So it follows that this year, out of millions of brackets in our Bracket Challenge Game, the Cavaliers were the 1 seed picked most often to be upset in the first round. 

In total, 2.9 percent of all brackets picked Gardner-Webb to beat Virginia in Friday’s first-round game. That may not seem like much, but 16 seeds have won just 0.7 percent of the 136 games they’ve played (and even that number is probably a misrepresentation of the real odds). 

Last year, we saw a staggering eight percent of all brackets pick a 16 seed to win. That was the most in the eight-year history of the tournament. Since 2011, when just under two percent of all brackets picked a 16 seed, we had seen a fairly steady rise year over year.

But this year’s tournament saw users wise up a bit. Only 4.4 percent of all brackets had a 16 seed taking down a 1 seed this year — the fewest percentage since 2013.

Exactly why that number dropped is a mystery, but we’re guessing the gambler’s fallacy is at play — since it happened just last year, it can’t possibly happen again for a long time, right?

WHAT DO THE NUMBERS SAY: Have 1 seed vs. 16 seed games been getting closer in March Madness?

Back to this year's picks. Naturally, the most popular champion pick in our bracket game — Duke — received the most confidence in the first round. The Blue Devils were picked to win in 98.5 percent of all brackets. 

Here are all four 1-v-16 game matchups ranked: 

Seed Team Picked to win Seed Team Picked to win
1 Duke 98.5% 16 ND St 1.5%
1 Gonzaga 97.4% 16 FDS 2.2%
1 Virginia 97.2% 16 Gardner-Webb 2.9%
1 North Carolina 98.1% 16 Iona 2.0%

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