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Joe Boozell | | February 23, 2022

History of 11 seeds vs. 6 seeds in March Madness

UCLA vs. BYU: Highlights from 2021 NCAA tournament

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:

11 vs. 6 upsets
Year Result Score
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.

UCLA vs. BYU: Extended highlights from 2021 NCAA Tournament

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:

Loyola Chicago's fantastic finish to beat Miami

And of course: Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson hit a legendary shot in 2016 to push the Panthers past Texas:

UNI vs. UT: P. Jesperson buzzer-beater

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