Bracket IQ

BACK TO Bracket IQ
basketball-men-d1 flag

Sam Richmond | NCAA.com | March 17, 2016

March Madness: 12 seeds continue to be undervalued

  Yale took down Baylor in one of the biggest upsets of Day 1.

No. 12 seeds are back.

After all No. 12 seeds fell in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament, Yale and Little Rock brought the seed line back to fame with big upsets over their respective 5 seeds Thursday.

This really isn't much of a surprise, though, if you look at the data. At least one 12 seed has knocked out a 5 seed in now 28 of the past 32 tournaments, and 12 seeds have an impressive 35.4 winning percentage in the first round (that percentage is through 2015).

These 12-5 upsets always seem to be a popular pick among fans. However, they aren't popular enough.

When we looked at the last five years of data from the Capital One Bracket Challenge Game, we found users picked 12 seeds over 5 seeds just 22.5 percent of the time. This year, it was less. We picked 12-5 upsets 15.1 percent of the time.

That's a misstep from bracket pickers. For perspective: 33.7 percent of users selected at least one 11 seed to beat a 6, yet 11 seeds have a worse winning percentage than 12s (34.6 percent).

Thursday's action serves as the latest proof that 12 seeds deserve even more love from bracket pickers. Yale clearly outplayed Baylor for the majority of its upset win, and Little Rock more than proved it belonged against Purdue, coming from behind late in regulation and outlasting the Boilermakers after two high-intensity overtimes.

Interestingly enough, Yale and Arkansas-Little Rock were even more undervalued than the typical 12 seed. Only 19.6 percent and 13.1 percent of users picked the Bulldogs and Trojans to win their first-round game, respectively.

It's too late for us to atone for our 12-5 picking mistakes this year, but going forward there's no doubt we need to predict upsets in these games more often.

College basketball rankings: Even unranked teams find success in the NCAA tournament

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — its modern format — only four of 35 national champions were unranked to start the season. That’s about one in every nine years.
READ MORE

Only .025 percent predicted the 2021 Final Four teams in the Bracket Challenge Game

UCLA's upset of No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight turned what could have been a record-high number of perfect picks into a tiny number that went 4-for-4.
READ MORE

A huge majority of NCAA brackets have a No. 1 seed winning the 2021 championship

Here is how many brackets predicted each seed to win the national championship, from Gonzaga and the No. 1 seeds through Drexel and the rest of the No. 16 seeds.
READ MORE
Presented by
Presented by
Presented by

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners