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Daniel Wilco | | March 13, 2022

How men's basketball teams that earn a No. 13 seed do in March Madness

Bryce Drew's iconic buzzer beater, broken down by the Drew family

In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, North Texas and Ohio became the 30th and 31st No. 13 seeds to win in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Mean Green took out No. 4 seed Purdue in overtime, 78-69, after it scored 17 points in the extra five minutes, while the Bobcats knocked off reigning national champion Virginia 62-58.

In the previous NCAA tournament, in 2019, No. 13 seed UC Irvine defeated No. 4 seed Kansas State 70-64.. In 2018, No. 13 seed Buffalo had a 21-point win against No. 4 seed Arizona, and Marshall joined the list of victorious No. 13 seeds with a six-point win against No. 4 seed Wichita State.

In total, there have been 31 No. 13 seeds that have upset a No. 4 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the last 36 NCAA tournaments, but they're 5-7 against No. 4 seeds in the last three NCAA tournaments.

Back in 1985 — the first year of the 64-team tournament — David Robinson’s Navy squad showed the college basketball world the No. 13 seed shouldn’t be taken lightly. That year, the Midshipmen cruised to a 78-55 victory against No. 4 seed LSU in the opening round. Though Navy didn’t advance past the second round, the win served as a reminder no team is safe, and the 23-point victory is still the largest by a No. 13 seed in its first game.

First Round: Hawai'i upsets Cal

No. 13 seeds upset No. 4 seeds roughly 21.5 percent of the time. And what stands out most is that many of those opening round wins have been won by five points or fewer. The No. 13 seed is 6-2 in games decided by one point.

Year Winner Loser Score
1985 No. 4 Loyola Chicago No. 13 Iona 59-58
1987 No. 13 Xavier No. 4 Missouri 70-69
1998 No. 13 Valparaiso No. 4 Mississippi 70-69
1999 No. 13 Oklahoma No. 4 Arizona 61-60
2004 No. 4 Wake Forest No. 13 VCU 79-78
2008 No. 13 San Diego No. 4 Connecticut 70-69
2010 No. 13 Murray State No. 4 Vanderbilt 66-65
2011 No. 13 Morehead State No. 4 Louisville 62-61
2021 No. 13 Ohio No. 4 Virginia 62-58

Of the 31 upset victors, six reached the Sweet 16, starting with Richmond in 1988 and most recently with La Salle in 2013.

Valparaiso won in dramatic fashion against Ole Miss in 1998. With 2.5 seconds left in the game and down by two, the Crusaders had one final shot to win the game. Inbounding from the opposite baseline, Jamie Sykes threw an inbounds pass to Bill Jenkins at mid-court. Jenkins tapped it to Bryce Drew, who tossed up a desperation 23-foot 3-pointer. The shot went down as time expired to send Valpo to the second round.

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

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