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Daniel Wilco | | March 12, 2019

March Madness: Getting to know the No. 9 seed

  Wichita State shocked the world during Final Four run in 2013 after a big first round upset over Pittsburgh.

*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.

The 8 vs. 9 seed game is a literal a toss-up. In the last 34 years, 9 seeds have won 68 of 136 games — so, exactly half. About 60 percent of those games played have been decided by fewer than 10 points.

And while 9 seeds haven’t fared well in the second round -- where they’ve almost always faced a number one seed and lost 62 of 69 games -- five teams have reached the Sweet 16, four made it to the Elite Eight and one, Wichita State in 2013, even advanced to the Final Four.

Thanks to that lopsided second-round matchup, the No. 9 seeds don’t have the same success lower seed teams have, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t make a splash in the tournament.

Wichita State came into the 2013 tournament with an at-large bid from the Missouri Valley conference and breezed past eighth-seeded Pittsburgh, 73-55, in the first round.

The Shockers then upset No. 1 Gonzaga, beat No. 13 La Salle and No. 2 Ohio State to make their second Final Four in school history.

One year after being knocked out by a No. 9 seed, Pitt stormed back in 2014 as a No. 9 seed of its own to hand No. 8 Colorado the biggest upset between 9s and 8s. The Panthers only allowed 18 points in the first half, and Talib Zanna scored 16 of Pittsburgh’s 46 first half points before beating the Buffaloes, 77-48.

And in 2015, No. 8 seed NC State took down top-seeded Villanova 71-68 in the second round, before falling to No. 4 seed Louisville in the Sweet 16.

2018 was a solid campaign for No. 9 seeds as three of them won their first round games and two, Kansas State and Florida State, made it all the way to the Elite Eight. 

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