The key to winning your 2014 NCAA Tournament office pool might be the bracket itself.
Rather than focusing on the 68 teams competing in 67 games over nearly three weeks from coast to coast, take a step back and look at the actual bracket. Since the field of teams expanded to 64 for the 1985 NCAA Tournament, certain trends and peculiarities have emerged that any ambitious bracketeer should consider. Some of these have ebbed over the years while others are still flowing into 2014.
Whether it is the flawless record that top seeds have in games against No. 16 seeds or the relative trouble that those cursed with a No. 5 by the selection committee have faced in recent openers, here are nine tips that will help you fill out a more informed bracket:
No team earning a No. 1 seed has ever lost to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament regional format. It's got to happen eventually, right?
No. 15 seeds have pulled off major upsets in the past two tournaments. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University stunned No. 2 Georgetown in 2013 and two No. 15 seeds won in 2012. There had been only four such upsets previously.
A No. 13 seed has knocked off a No. 4 seed in every tournament since 2008 when Siena stunned Vanderbilt and San Diego took out UConn.
From 2008 through 2013, at least one No. 12 seed has upset a No. 5 in the NCAA Tournament. In five of the last eight years, there have been at least two such upsets. Among the twelfth-seeded teams looking to keep the trend going in 2014 are Stephen F. Austin (31-2), a team that hasn't lost in months, and Harvard (26-4), who pulled off a major upset last year as a No. 13 seed.
No. 11 seeds have a winning record in the Elite Eight (3-2
) while No. 10 seeds are winless at that level (0-7
) since the tournament first expanded to 64 teams.
Adding up the seeds of the teams you picked to reach the Final Four should give a sense of how ambitious you're being. If you have advanced the four No. 1 seeds then you have a total of four. If you end up with a combination of seeds totaling more than 14 then you're counting on a historically wild tournament. As noted by Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News, the total of the four semifinalists' seeds has been higher than 14 only six times since 1979
. In the last four years, the average total has climbed due to Cinderella runs by Wichita State, Butler and VCU. Will the trend continue?
No team seeded 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 has ever reached the Final Four.
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 22 of the 29 national champions have been No. 1 or No. 2 seeds. That's 75.5% of winners
, as noted by The Linemakers.
The Florida Gators are the No. 1 overall seed in 2014 will aim to follow the lead of the past two No. 1 overall seeds -- Louisville and Kentucky -- who won the national title.
In the 1985 NCAA Tournament, No. 8 Villanova stunned No. 1 Georgetown in an all-Big East championship game. Patrick Ewing and the dominant Hoyas could not withstand the flawless performance from Ed Pinckney (54) and the Wildcats. Villanova shot an astounding 79% from the field to pull of the 66-64 upset