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Daniel Wilco | | March 13, 2022

How No. 9 seeds do in March Madness

Fred VanVleet highlights: NCAA tournament top plays

The No. 8 seed versus No. 9 seed game is a literal toss-up. In the last 36 NCAA tournaments since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 9 seeds have won 73 of 144 games — so, just over half. About 60 percent of those games were decided by fewer than 10 points.

And while No. 9 seeds haven’t fared well in the second round — where they’ve almost always faced a No. 1 seed and lost 67 of 74 games — five teams have reached the Sweet 16, four made it to the Elite Eight and one even advanced to the Final Four, Wichita State in 2013.

Thanks to that lopsided second-round matchup against No. 1 seeds, No. 9 seeds don’t have the same success better-seeded teams have, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t make a splash in the tournament.

Wichita State came into the 2013 NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid from the Missouri Valley Conference and breezed past No. 8-seeded Pittsburgh, 73-55, in the first round.

Second Round: Wichita St. grinds past Pitt

The Shockers then upset No. 1 seed Gonzaga, beat No. 13 seed La Salle and No. 2 seed Ohio State to make their second Final Four appearance in school history.

One year after being knocked out by a No. 9 seed, Pitt stormed back in 2014 as a No. 9 seed to hand No. 8 seed Colorado the biggest upset between No. 8 and No. 9 seeds. The Panthers only allowed 18 points in the first half, and Talib Zanna scored 16 of Pittsburgh’s 46 first-half points before beating the Buffaloes, 77-48.

The 2019 NCAA Tournament was one of the rare occasions all four No. 9 seeds advanced to the Round of 32, after they won their first-round games by an average of 16 points. It was only the fifth time the worse-seeded team won all four games in a seed-versus-seed matchup, and the last since 2001. The other three times this happened was in 1989,1994 and 1999. In the next round, UCF came within literal inches of upsetting top overall seed Duke while Oklahoma, Baylor and Washington lost by a margin of 15. 3 points against the other No. 1 seeds in the second round.

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

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