In the past seven years, we’ve seen a growing number of Bracket Challenge Game users pick 16 seeds to upset a 1 seed. Maybe they're thinking that after 132 games without a 16-seed win, we’re due for one.
We looked at millions of brackets in our 2018 Bracket Challenge Game and Penn was the most popular pick. Here’s how each 16-v-1 game ended up:
|Kansas v. Penn||Penn||2.79%|
|Virginia v. UMBC||UMBC||1.90%|
|Xavier v. Texas Southern||Texas Southern||1.82%|
|Villanova v. Radford||Radford||1.44%|
The BCG users were most confident in Villanova, picked to be upset by Radford in just 1.44 percent of brackets.
Kansas, on the other hand, generated the most skepticism. Or rather, 16-seed Pennsylvania garnered the most support. The Quakers, Ivy League champions with a 24-8 record and the second-best 3-point defense in the country, were picked to beat the Jayhawks in 2.79 percent of brackets.
That is the highest percentage for a 16 seed since Hampton over Virginia in 2016. The Cavaliers won that game 81-45, by the way.
Part of the confidence in the Quakers could stem from the potential absence of Kansas’ 7-0 sophomore star Udoka Azubuike, who missed the Jayhawks’ Big 12 tournament run with a knee injury.
Still, the odds are far, far in Kansas’ favor. Only 15 games between 16 and 1 seeds have been decided by fewer than 10 points. No game has been decided by one possession since 1996. In the past 11 years, more than three times as many 1-v-16 games have been decided by more than 30 points (13) than fewer than 10 points (four).
Could the Quakers make almost three percent of BCG users look like geniuses, becoming the first ever 16 seed to win a first-round NCAA tournament game? Technically. But don’t stake your bracket’s life on it.