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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Top stats to know: 10 tourney trends

By Chris Fallica, Keith Lipscomb and Jason McCallum

If you like to consider historical trends -- some more recent than others -- when you fill out your NCAA Men's Basketball Championship bracket, we've got plenty to consider. In the past, we've given you more than a few, but this year, we'll whittle it down to an express version-- 10 trends of note for this year's tournament.

You'll have to decide for yourself which ones have merit. More than anything, though, we hope you find the information below fun to read as you get excited for the start of the Big Dance.

Shockers and Gators trying to do something never done before
Can Wichita State or Florida do something that’s never been done? The Shockers and Gators are the 11th and 12th teams to go undefeated in conference play, win their conference tournament and receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. None of the previous 10 teams to do so won the national title.

BPI knows of what it speaks
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) is in its third official season of existence. In the previous two years, it had Kentucky (2012) and Louisville (2013) as the top team in the country. Both of those teams won the national championship. Arizona is the top-ranked team according to BPI entering the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Losing early in conference tourney … not a good thing
No team has won a national title after losing its first game in its conference tournament. The only schools seeded 5th or better in this year's tournament to lose their first conference tournament games were Villanova, Syracuse, Saint Louis and Oklahoma.

One gets it done when it counts, though it has some issues too
A 1 seed has won the national championship six of the past seven years, and 11 of the past 15 years.

The last two years, the overall No. 1 seed won the title. Overall No. 1 seeds were first announced in 2004, but they haven’t been as successful as you might expect. While only three have won the title and another two reached the Final Four, four of the 10 have lost in the Sweet 16 or earlier.

Yet, in each of the last two years - and three of the last four - exactly one No. 1 seed reached the Final Four.

In the last four years only three No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four. That’s the same number of No. 1 seeds which has lost in the Round of 32 in that span.

In the last four years, there have been more teams from non-Power 6 conferences to reach the Final Four than there have been 1 seeds.

Two doesn’t always tango so well
You might be surprised to know that only once in the past 17 years did all four No. 2 seeds reached the Sweet 16 (2009). Overall, only five times since seeding began in 1979 have all four No. 2 seeds reached the Sweet 16 (1982, 1989, 1995, 1996, 2009).

Overall, No. 2s have 23 losses in the Round of 32 in this span (14 vs. No. 10 seeds, 9 vs. No. 7 seeds). Meanwhile, No. 1s have only eight losses in the same round over that span.

Four is a good number of late
In the last four seasons, four No. 4 teams have reached the Final Four. That’s more than any other seed. In fact, the number of No. 4 and No. 5 seeds to make the Final Four in that span is the same (6) as the combined number of No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

Big difference between a No. 3 and No. 4
There’s a noticeable difference between the third and fourth seed, when it comes to reaching the Sweet 16.

The chart on the right shows how the top 16 seeds fared with regard to reaching the Sweet 16 during the past nine years.

While all but three of the top seeds have advanced during this stretch, note the trouble No. 4s have had -- with barely more than two-fifths of them surviving opening weekend.

Low seeds have been slipping through
In the last four years, nine teams seeded fourth or lower have reached the Final Four, including three last season. From 1998 to 2009 (12 years) there were a total of nine.

In the last four years, five teams seeded fifth or lower have reached the Final Four. From 2001 to 2009 (nine years) there were a total of four.

Lucky No. 13
At least one 13-seed has pulled a Round of 64 upset each of the last six years. The last year every No. 4 seed won its Round of 64 game was in 2007.

In that span, seven 13-seeds have a very respectable 7-17 mark.

Top four seeds reaching the Sweet 16? Unlikely
Since the Tournament field expanded in 1985, there have been 116 regions played (29 NCAA tournaments). Top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 (one in the past four years) in only 15 of those 116 regions (13 percent).