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Daniel Wilco | | December 18, 2017

March Madness: Getting to know the No. 11 seed

  11th-seeded VCU downed sixth-seeded Georgetown by 18 points in the first round in 2011.

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

The 1989 NCAA tournament was a special one for the 11 seeds. That year, every 11 seed won against the 6 seed, by an average of 5.75 points.

Minnesota got the ball rolling on March 16, beating Kansas State, 86-75, behind 29 points from Willie Burton. One day later, Evansville, South Alabama and Texas all beat their opponents.

South Alabama had the toughest time with its upset bid, beating in-state rival Alabama, 86-84, on a last-second shot by Jeff Hodge with two seconds in the game.

Last year’s tournament came close to matching the historic 1989 run by the No. 11 seeds, as three of the four lower ranked seeds took down their sixth-seed opponents. No. 6 Cincinnatti's win over No. 11 Kansas State kept the higher seeds from a shutout, but only barely.

The same thing happened in 2016, when No. 11 seed Michigan couldn’t overcome No. 6 Notre Dame, just narrowly missing the four-for-four No. 11 seed sweep.

In total, 11 seeds have won 49 out of 132 match-ups, or 37 percent of the time. Even more impressive, 18 have made it to the Sweet 16, including Xavier last year, and three of those advanced all the way to the Final Four. (Xavier fell to Gonzaga in the Elite 8.) More 11 seeds have made the Final Four than 10 seeds, 9 seeds, or 7 seeds. 

LSU, George Mason and VCU 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.

Year Winner Loser Score
1986 LSU Purdue 94-87
2006 George Mason Michigan State 75-65
2011 VCU Georgetown 74-56

While those teams have had success throughout the tournament, it was Pepperdine in the 2000 tournament who gave us the biggest first round upset by an 11 seed over a 6 seed. The Waves beat Indiana in a 20-point blowout, 77-57, in Bobby Knight’s last game as the Hoosiers’ coach.