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Daniel Wilco | | March 13, 2022

How No. 14 seeds do in March Madness

Fantastic Finish: Abilene Christian upsets Texas

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

For 19 of the 36 NCAA tournaments since the NCAA tournament field expanded to 64 teams, at least one No. 14 seed has triumphed over a No. 3 seed. The last No. 14 seed to pull off the opening-round shocker came just last year, when No. 14 Abilene Christian upset No. 3 Texas, 53-52.

In the previous three tournaments before 2021, No. 14 seeds went winless in their opening-round games, which prior to 2017, hadn't happened since 2012. From 2013 to 2016, at least one No. 14 seed advanced to the second round.

The 14 seed's first-round record is still just 22-122, but the likelihood of an upset is still higher than a No. 15 or No. 16 seed winning against a No. 2 or No. 1 seed, respectively.

Only two No. 14 seeds have ever advanced past the second round, and college basketball fans were treated to a big Cinderella story in 1986 when Cleveland State upset Indiana, 83-79, in the first round and then Saint Joseph's in the second round 75-69.

Cleveland State’s run in 1986 was special, but Chattanooga’s race to the Sweet 16 in 1997 did prove to be a bit more exciting. The Mocs pulled out a three-point win over third-seeded Georgia in the first round, 73-70. With the momentum in the second round, Chattanooga stormed past Illinois and into the Sweet 16 but lost to 10th-seeded Providence by six points.

No. 14 seeds are 12-9 in matches decided by 3 points or less. In a fun twist, three of the last four No. 14-seed upsets — Georgia State against Baylor, UAB against Iowa State in 2015 and Abilene Christian vs. Texas in 2021 — were all decided by one point.

In the 2019 NCAA tournament, No. 14 seed Yale came the closest to advancing to the second round. The Bulldogs lost to No. 3 seed LSU 79-74.

The biggest upset in a 14 vs. 3 game — 14 points — is tied between SFA's win in 2016 and Ohio's 2010 win against Georgetown. Armon Bassett scored 32 points for the Bobcats and DJ Cooper added 23 to shock the Hoyas.

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