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Adam Hermann | | February 12, 2021

What happens to teams' chances after an upset win?

UMBC upsets Virginia, 74-54

March Madness’s upset teams — No. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 seeds — win in the first round 22.04 percent of the time. But what happens to their chances once they secure that first win?

They increase!

We looked into every outcome since 1985 for teams with one of those seven seeds following a first-round upset win, and that 22.04 percent figure leaps to 34.56 percent in the second round. 

First Round Win %s
Seed First round Ws First round Ls First round W%
10 55 85 39.29%
11 52 88 37.14%
12 50 90 35.71%
13 29 111 20.71%
14 21 119 15.00%
15 8 132 5.71%
16 1 139 0.71%
Totals 216 764 22.04%
Second Round Win %s
Seed Second round Ws Second round Ls Second round W%
10 23 32 41.82%
11 22 31 41.51%
12 21 29 42.00%
13 6 23 20.69%
14 2 19 9.52%
15 1 7 12.5%
16 0 1 0.00%
Totals 75 142 34.56%

Not bad at all. The three seeds to see their chances drop in the second round are 13,14 and 16 seeds. UC Irvine's 2019 second-round loss made the overall win percentage for No. 13 seeds higher in the first round but the difference is two hundredths of a percentage point. No. 14 seeds drop from 15.44 percent to 9.52 percent and the No. 16 seeds go from 0.74 percent to 0 percent. However, No. 16 seeds should get a break here because they've only had one team play in the second round.

The No. 15 seeds, of course, also have a pretty small sample size: only eight of the No. 15 seeds have ever won a game after the first round. But out of those eight, one — Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 — won its second round game against No. 7 seed San Diego State. The No. 11 and No. 12 seeds both improve by at least four percent. And one No. 11 seed, Loyola-Chicago, reached the Final Four.

The higher-seeded team still holds a significant advantage against teams riding the high of an upset, but the numbers say things are trending up once you get one — and in March, all you need is one.

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