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Daniel Wilco | | December 18, 2017

March Madness: Getting to know the No. 13 seed

  No. 13 Hawaii knocked off No. 4 California in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

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

Hawaii was all about making history in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Not only did the Rainbow Warriors pick up their first-ever NCAA Tournament win, they did it by becoming just the 26th No. 13 seed in history to take down a No. 4 seed as they beat California in convincing fashion, 77-66.

Hawaii is the only No. 13 seed to win in the opening round since 2013, but in 1985 — the first year of the 64-team tournament — David Robinson’s Navy squad showed the college basketball world that the No. 13 seed shouldn’t be taken lightly. That year, the Midshipmen cruised to a 78-55 victory over fourth-seeded LSU in the opening round. Though Navy didn’t progress past the second round, the win was a reminder that no team in the tournament is safe, and the 23-point win was the largest by a No. 13 seed in the last 33 years.

Bucknell came the closest to pulling off a first round upset of any No. 13 seed in last season's tournament. The Bison fell 86-80 to West Virginia.

Since Navy’s win, the No. 13 seed has won 25 other times over the No. 4 seed, or about 20 percent of the time. What stands out most is that in half of its opening round wins, the lower seed has actually won by five points or fewer. The No. 13 seed is 6-2 in games decided by one point.

Year Winner Loser Score
1985 No. 4 Loyola (Ill.) No. 13 Iona 59-58
1987 No. 13 Xavier No. 4 Missouri 70-69
1998 No. 13 Valparaiso No. 4Mississippi 70-69
1999 No. 13 Oklahoma No. 4 Arizona 61-60
2004 No. 4 Wake Forest No. 13 VCU 79-78
2008 No. 13 San Diego No. 4 Connecticut 66-65
2010 No. 13 Murray State No. 4 Vanderbilt 66-65
2011 No. 13 Morehead State No. 4 Lousiville 62-61

Of the 26 upset victories, six finished in the Sweet 16, starting with Richmond in 1988 and most recently with La Salle in 2013. Those wins in first round were all by five points or fewer.

Valparaiso won in dramatic fashion over Ole Miss in 1998. With 2.5 seconds left in the game with a two-point deficit, the Crusaders had one final shot to win the game. Inbounding from the opposite baseline, Jamie Sykes threw an inbounds pass to Bill Jenkins at midcourt, who tapped it to Bryce Drew, who tossed up a desperation 23-foot 3-pointer. The shot went down as time expired to send Valpo to the second round.