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Daniel Wilco | | March 13, 2022

How men's basketball No. 10 seeds do in March Madness

Watch Steph Curry's greatest highlights from Davidson's 2008 NCAA tournament run

It had never happened before, but that didn’t stop Syracuse. In 2016, the Orange became the first No. 10 seed to reach the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, with its 68-62 victory against No. 1 seed Virginia. Syracuse fell to eventual national runner-up North Carolina, 83-66, in the Final Four, but history had already been made.

The Orange’s magical run added to what is an impressive resume for No. 10 seeds. Twenty-three teams seeded 10th have reached the Sweet 16 and eight of those teams have advanced to the Elite Eight. 

LSU began the No. 10 seed hot streak in 1987, when the Tigers made a run through the Midwest bracket. LSU lost by only one point to top-seeded Indiana in the Elite Eight.

Here's how those eight No. 10 seeds have performed in the Elite Eight over the years:

Year Winner Loser Score
1987 No. 1 Indiana No. 10 LSU 77-76
1990 No. 4 Arkansas No. 10 Texas 88-85
1991 No. 1 North Carolina No. 10 Temple 75-72
1997 No. 4 Arizona No. 10 Providence 96-92
1999 No. 1 UConn No. 10 Gonzaga 67-62
2002 No. 5 Indiana No. 10 Kent State 81-69
2008 No. 1 Kansas No. 10 Davidson 59-57
2016 No. 10 Syracuse No. 1 Virginia 68-62

The run that Steph Curry's Davidson Wildcats made in 2008 started with a six-point win against No. 7 seed Gonzaga and developed into one of the best Cinderella stories in college basketball history. On March 21, 2008, Curry scored 40 points in the 82-76 win against the Bulldogs and the Wildcats rode his hot hand until they lost against No. 1 seed Kansas by two.

RELATED: Read an oral history of Curry's time at Davidson and 2008 tournament run

No. 10 seeds are 57-86 against No. 7 seeds to date in the NCAA tournament, including a 2-1 mark in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, while the game between No. 7 seed Oregon and No. 10 seed VCU was declared a no-contest. No. 10 seeds are 11-15 in games decided by three points or less. While 10-versus-7 upsets aren't unusual, blowouts are. West Virginia had the widest margin of victory for a No. 10 seed when it beat Temple, 82-52, in 1998. West Virginia used that momentum to beat No. 2 seeed Cincinnati in the second round on a banked-in, game-winning shot before it lost against Utah by three points in the Sweet 16.

In 2021, two of the three No. 10 seeds that played in the first round advanced to the second round, with both coming from the Big Ten in Maryland and Rutgers. Each won by single digits in the first round, by nine points against UConn and four against Clemson, respectively. The Scarlet Knights came just shy of advancing to the Sweet 16, as they held a 58-53 lead over No. 2 seed Houston with less than three minutes left but the Cougars rallied as part of a 14-2 run to win 63-60.

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

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