The 11-6 March Madness upset pick isn't as sexy as the 12-5, but it's had a higher hit rate lately. No. 11 seeds are 11-9 against 6s over the past five years and have had a good amount of historical success in general. In 2021, UCLA topped BYU as an 11 seed — and didn't stop winning until reaching the Final Four.
Here's everything you need to know about 11s vs. 6s in March Madness.
History of 11 vs. 6 seeds in March Madness
There have been 54 No. 11 seeds that have defeated No. 6 seeds (37.5 percent) since the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985. Here's a list of all of them:
|2021||Syracuse def. San Diego State||78-62|
|2021||UCLA def. BYU||73-62|
|2019||Ohio State def. Iowa State||62-59|
|2018||Loyola Chicago def. Miami (FL)||64-62|
|2018||Syracuse def. TCU||57-52|
|2017||Rhode Island def. Creighton||84-72|
|2017||USC def. SMU||66-65|
|2017||Xavier def. Maryland||76-65|
|2016||Northern Iowa def. Texas||75-72|
|2016||Gonzaga def. Seton Hall||68-52|
|2016||Wichita State def. Arizona||65-55|
|2015||Dayton def. Providence||66-53|
|2015||UCLA def. SMU||60-59|
|2014||Tennessee def. UMass||86-67|
|2014||Dayton def. Ohio State||60-59|
|2013||Minnesota def. UCLA||83-63|
|2012||Colorado def. UNLV||68-64|
|2012||NC State def. San Diego State||79-65|
|2011||Marquette def. Xavier||66-55|
|2011||VCU def. Georgetown||74-56|
|2011||Gonzaga def. St. John's||86-71|
|2010||Washington def. Marquette||80-78|
|2010||Old Dominion def. Notre Dame||51-50|
|2009||Dayton def. West Virginia||68-62|
|2008||Kansas State def. USC||80-67|
|2007||Winthrop def. Notre Dame||76-64|
|2007||VCU def. Duke||79-77|
|2006||Milwaukee def. Oklahoma||82-74|
|2006||George Mason def. Michigan State||75-65|
|2005||UAB def. LSU||62-68|
|2003||Central Michigan def. Creighton||79-73|
|2002||Wyoming def. Gonzaga||73-68|
|2002||Southern Illinois def. Texas Tech||76-68|
|2001||Georgia State def. Wisconsin||50-49|
|2001||Temple def. Texas||79-65|
|2000||Pepperdine def. Indiana||77-57|
|1998||Washington def. Xavier||69-68|
|1998||Western Michigan def. Clemson||75-72|
|1996||Boston College def. Indiana||64-51|
|1995||Texas def. Oregon||90-73|
|1994||Penn def. Nebraska||90-80|
|1993||Tulane def. Kansas State||55-53|
|1991||Creighton def. New Mexico State||64-56|
|1991||UConn def. LSU||79-62|
|1990||Loyola Marymount def. New Mexico State||111-92|
|1989||Minnesota def. Kansas State||86-75|
|1989||Evansville def. Oregon State||94-90|
|1989||South Alabama def. Alabama||86-84|
|1989||Texas def. Georgia Tech||76-70|
|1988||Rhode Island def. Missouri||87-80|
|1986||LSU def. Purdue||94-87|
|1985||Boston College def. Texas Tech||55-53|
|1985||UTEP def. Tulsa||79-75|
|1985||Auburn def. Purdue||59-58|
Some more tidbits:
- The 1989 NCAA tournament was a special one for No. 11 seeds. That year, every No. 11 seed won against the No. 6 seeds, by an average of 5.75 points.
- No. 11 seeds have been particularly successful against 6s lately. The last 10 years, 11s have a 23-21 record over 6s.
- No. 11 seeds went a combined 6-2 against 6s in 2016 and 2017.
- LSU, George Mason, VCU and UCLA all made history as the lowest seeds to ever make the Final Four and all won by considerable margins against their first-round match-ups. Loyola Chicago also made the Final Four as an 11, but its first round game was much closer than those.
- Pepperdine beat Indiana in a 20-point blowout, 77-57, in Bobby Knight’s last game as the Hoosiers’ coach. It was the largest 11 over 6 margin ever.
MORE: The 13 over 4 upset pick is undervalued in March Madness brackets
How much more likely is an 11-6 upset than a 12-5 upset?
There have been 51 12-5 upsets since the NCAA tournament field expanded. That means No. 12 seeds hold a 51-93 record against 5s, which equates to a 35.42 win percentage. Thus, an 11-6 upset is about two percentage points more likely to happen than a 12-5.
How much more likely is a 10-7 upset than an 11-6 upset?
No. 10 seeds hold a 57-87 record against No. 7 seeds. That equates to a 39.6 win percentage. So, a 10-7 upset is about two percentage points more likely to happen than an 11-6.
Recent/memorable 11-6 games
Multiple 11 seeds have advanced in four of the last five NCAA tournaments: 2016 (three), 2017 (three), 2018 (two) and 2021 (two).
Last season, UCLA and Syracuse both pulled out wins. The Bruins then memorably marched all the way to the national semifinals — going from First Four to Final Four.
Who can forget Donte Ingram's shot against Miami to send Loyola Chicago to the second round in 2018? It was the start of a magical run for the Ramblers:
And of course: Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson hit a legendary shot in 2016 to push the Panthers past Texas: