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Daniel Wilco | | March 22, 2018

Incredibly, this isn't the most unpredictable Sweet 16 ever

Thrilling upsets from NCAA Tournament

Somehow, after the dust settled from a hectic opening weekend, the teams that were left standing don’t make up the craziest Sweet 16 lineup in the history of the tournament.

If you add the seed value for all 16 remaining teams, 2018’s total is 85, good for thid place. In a tie for second are 1990 and 1999, with a total seed value of 88, and an average seed of 5.5. For reference, the average Sweet 16 has a seed value of 71.3, and an average seed of 4.5.

The second year of the expanded tournament — 1986 — still holds the record, with a seed value of 89.

Here's the remaining seeds left for each of the four years:

  Total points 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1986 89 3 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 1
1990 88 3 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 0
1999 88 4 1 2 1 1 2 0 0 0 3 0 1 1 0
2018 85 2 2 2 1 3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 0 0

(No 15 or 16 seed advanced to the Sweet 16 in any of these years)

An interesting bit of information from these tournaments — Duke was the runner up each year. The Blue Devils are still alive in 2018’s tournament.

Let’s take a look at what happened in the years with the craziest Sweet 16s.


How’d it happen: UMBC happened. The 16-seed Retrievers knocked off 1-seed Virginia in historic and convincing fashion. The Cavaliers were the second-highest picked team to win the championship in the Capital One Bracket Challenge Game. With 4-seed Arizona falling to 13-seed Buffalo, 11-seed Loyola Chicago knocking off 3-seed Tennessee, and 7-seed Nevada making an unbelievable comeback against 2-seed Cincinnati, the South region of 2018’s bracket became the first ever without a 1, 2, 3, or 4 seed in its regional semifinals.

UMBC upsets Virginia, 74-54

Elsewhere, 11-seed Syracuse advanced from the First Four past 6-seed TCU and 3-seed Michigan State, while 9-seed FSU took down 1-seed Xavier.


How’d it happen: Cleveland State became the first 14-seed not just to win a game, but advance to the Sweet 16 (which has only been done once since, by Chattanooga in 1997). The Vikings beat 3-seed Indiana in the first round, then 6-seet St. Joseph’s in the second.

College Basketball: 14-3 Upsets | High Five

In that same region, 12-seed DePaul disposed of 5-seed Virginia and 4-seed Oklahoma. One more double-digit seed, 11-seed LSU, found itself in the Sweet 16 after taking down 6-seed Purdue, and 3-seed Memphis State. The Tigers were the only double-digit seed to advance, beating 2-seed Georgia Tech by six before falling to 1-seed Kentucky, 59-57 in the Elite Eight.

Elite Eight seed value: 37

Who won: Louisville beat Duke for the Cardinals’ second championship.


How’d it happen: Loyola Marymount’s 1990 team set the record for most points in an NCAA tournament game when the 11-seed Lions beat 3-seed Michigan 149-115. That was the second game in a four-game Cinderella run that finally ended in the Elite Eight against eventual champion UNLV. 

Two other double-digit seeds made the Sweet 16, as 12-seed Ball State beat Oregon State and Louisville, while 10-seed Texas made it to the Elite Eight with wins over Purdue and Xavier, before falling to 4-seed Arkansas.

Elite Eight seed value: 40

Who won: UNLV beat Duke in the Rebels’ first title game.


How’d it happen: Four double-digits survived the first weekend of the tournament. 13-seed Oklahoma beat 4-seed Arizona by one, then 5-seed Charlotte by 13. Gonzaga, a 10-seed, was the only double-digit to advance to the Elite Eight, where the Zags lost by five to eventual champion UConn.

Elite Eight seed value: 29

Who won: Connecticut beat Duke in the Huskies’ first Final Four appearance.

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