March Madness: How the nation's brackets look heading into the Final Four
As of Sunday, we’ve played 64 games in the NCAA tournament. We have just three left before we crown a champion.
Through those 64, there’s been quite a bit of madness. This year’s tournament set a record with the longest verified perfect bracket ever. But from the first game, this tournament has been wreaking havoc on brackets left and right.
Here’s where we stand with just a few days until the Final Four tips off.
With all the brackets played in NCAA.com’s Capital One Bracket Challenge Game, just 0.0026 percent picked this year’s Final Four correctly.
|Number of correct Final Four picks||Percent|
Of those brackets with perfect Final Fours, 36.7 percent have North Carolina winning. At the start of this year's tournament, 12.41 percent of all brackets had the Tar Heels winning the title, making them the most popular pick. Gonzaga was No. 6 (with 8.52 percent of all brackets), and Oregon was No. 10 (1.31 percent). Of the 64 teams left after the First Four, South Carolina was picked to win the championship in just 0.06 percent of all brackets, ranking No. 45 overall.
Not surprisingly, the most popular Final Four combination was one with all 1 seeds: Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina, and Villanova. Those four were picked in 7.87 percent of all brackets. Villanova, of course, was upset by 8-seed Wisconsin in the Round of 32, and Kansas fell to 3-seed Oregon in the Elite Eight.
Gamecocks in the game
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only two 7 seeds had ever made the Final Four before South Carolina.
In 2015, it was Michigan State, which knocked off 2-seed Virginia, 3-seed Oklahoma and 4-seed Louisville to reach a Final Four with three 1 seeds, where the Spartans lost to eventual champion Duke by 20.
In 2014, the tournament’s Cinderella was UConn, which took down 2-seed Villanova, 3-seed Iowa State, and 4-seed Michigan State before knocking off 1-seed Florida in the semifinal and 8-seed Kentucky in the national title game.
Two magical runs for sure, but they were just a fraction of the 128 total 7 seeds that have been in the tournament since 1985. So, understandably, South Carolina didn't have a lot of backers this year.
In NCAA.com’s Bracket Challenge Game, 57 percent of users picks 10-seed Marquette to beat South Carolina in the first round. That was the highest percentage picking a 10-seed this year other than Wichita State over 7-seed Dayton — an upset that actually happened.
What’s more, only 3.15 percent of all users had South Carolina making it out of the first weekend. But of the 0.0026 percent that picked the Final Four correctly, 24.5 percent chose the Gamecocks to run the table.
Not so perfect anymore
This year’s last perfect bracket, which lasted a record 39 straight games, got 19 correct in the 24 matchups since, but correctly predicted only half of the Elite Eight and didn’t get a single one of the Final Four right.
After leading all brackets worldwide through the first 39 games, the record-setting bracket has now dropped out of the top 50 brackets on Yahoo! with only 72 points total and zero points remaining. That's a tough fall from grace.