A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed in NCAA tournament history, but college basketball fans are feeling as confident as ever that trend is going to end soon.
Prior to the 2016 NCAA tournament, we dug into the previous five years of data from the Capital One March Madness Bracket Challenge and every year fans picked at least one 16 to beat a 1 seed more than the year before.
Well, the data from this year’s game is in, and the optimism for a David-Goliath upset is at an all-time high.
|2016 Matchups||Upset picks|
|Kansas vs Austin Peay||1.45%|
|North Carolina vs Florida Gulf Coast||2.73%|
|Virginia vs Hampton||2.91%|
|Oregon vs Holy Cross||2.00%|
Since we started tracking data, our two most picked 16-1 upsets are from this year: Florida Gulf Coast to beat North Carolina and Hampton to beat Virginia. In total three 16 seeds were picked by at least two percent of Bracket Challenge users to win; only one team in the previous years had received at least two percent of picks.
Where is this increased confidence coming from? It's hard to say. Sure, there have been some close calls over the years, but every No. 1 seed won their game last year by double-digits, three did so by at least 20 and one (Villanova) won by 41. So it's certainly interesting to see these upset pick percentages rise to such new heights this year.
But maybe other recent close calls -- such as Arizona only beating Weber State by nine in 2015 and Gonzaga only beating Southern by six in 2014 -- continue to resonate more with fans. Perhaps fans are just realizing that a 16-1 upset is bound to happen sooner or later and this year could be the year. There's also a chance name recognition is coming into play here. Everyone remembers Florida Gulf Coast's Sweet 16 run in 2013, and Hampton faced then-undefeated Kentucky in the NCAA tournament last season.
Whatever the reason, fans are feeling bolder then ever.
Take a look at the previous five years of data:
|Villanova vs Lafayette||2.57%|
|Wisconsin vs Coastal Carolina||1.42%|
|Kentucky vs Hampton||1.10%|
|Duke vs Robert Morris||1.08%|
|Wichita State vs Cal Poly||1.64%|
|Virginia vs Coastal Carolina||1.55%|
|Arizona vs Weber State||1.31%|
|Florida vs Albany||1.18%|
|Gonzaga vs Southern||1.23%|
|Kansas vs W Kentucky||1.19%|
|Indiana vs James Madison||0.73%|
|Louisville vs NC A&T||0.47%|
|Syracuse vs UNC-Asheville||1.16%|
|Michigan State vs Long Island||1.04%|
|Kentucky vs W Kentucky||0.39%|
|North Carolina vs Vermont||0.39%|
|Kansas vs Boston||0.74%|
|Pittsburgh vs UNC-Asheville||0.68%|
|Ohio State vs Texas-San Antonio||0.46%|
|Duke vs Hampton||