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Andy Wittry | | March 15, 2018

The most popular 16, 15 and 14 upsets among first round games

Best Dunks from the National Championship

We analyzed millions of brackets from the March Madness Bracket Challenge and tracked what lower-seeded teams were the most popular first-round upset picks among No. 14, 15 and 16 seeds.

Here's a breakdown of which No. 16, 15 and 14 seeds are the most popular upset picks this year among March Madness Bracket Challenge users.

16 over 1

Game Upset Pick Percent
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Penn (16) Penn 2.79%
(1) Virginia vs. (16) UMBC (16) UMBC 1.90%
(1) Xavier vs. (16) Texas Southern (16) Texas Southern 1.82%
(1) Villanova vs. (16) Radford (16) Radford 1.44%

We know it's tempting to pick a double-digit seed over a top-three seed and, with the exception of a No. 16 seed beating a No. 1 seed, there's certainly precedent for such a pick coming true.

There have been eight No. 15 seeds that have beaten a No. 2 seed, including four this decade, most recently Middle Tennessee knocking off Michigan State in 2016.

There have been 21 No. 14 seeds that have upset a No. 3 seed in the first round, including at least one in four of the last five seasons.

Some have suggested that Penn is the best No. 16 seed ever. The Quakers (24-8) went 12-2 in the Ivy League and had the second-best defensive 3-point percentage in the country through Selection Sunday. Nearly three percent of brackets chose Penn to upset top-seeded Kansas, while the rest of the No. 16 seeds were chosen in less than two percent of brackets.

15 over 2

Game Upset Pick Percent
(2) Cincinnati vs. (15) Georgia State (15) Georgia State 5.77%
(2) Duke vs. (15) Iona (15) Iona 2.36%
(2) Purdue vs. (15) Cal State Fullerton (15) Cal State Fullerton 2.31%
(2) North Carolina vs. (15) Lipscomb (15) Lipscomb 2.01%

Cincinnati swept the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships but the Bearcats were the most common No. 2 seed picked to fall victim to an upset in the first round. Georgia State and coach Ron Hunter are familiar with playing the role of NCAA tournament spoiler. As a No. 14 seed in the 2015 NCAA tournament, Georgia State upset No. 3 seed Baylor and Hunter famously fell off of a stool, inspiring a bobblehead of the scene and an unforgettable March moment.

14 over 3

Game Upset Pick Percent
(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Stephen F. Austin (14) Stephen F. Austin 9.75%
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Wright State (14) Wright State 6.16%
(3) Michigan vs. (14) Montana (14) Montana 3.69%
(3) Michigan State vs. (14) Bucknell (14) Bucknell 3.31%

Earlier in the season, Texas Tech was a serious contender to win the ultra-competitive Big 12 but the Red Raiders' play didn't inspire confidence for the pickers of nearly 10 percent of this year's brackets. Stephen F. Austin is the most popular No. 14 seed picked to pull off a first-round upset.

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