Some, like myself, will argue that we are about to witness the greatest Sweet 16 of the past decade. Others, like myself, will claim this was one of the most boring first two rounds they have ever experienced.
To use a math term, the quality of the Sweet 16 and the chaos of the first two rounds are inversely proportional. This means that when one goes up the other goes down.
Tons of early upsets are fun for the time being, but they lead to several subpar teams occupying precious spots in the Sweet 16. This year, we are without the thrill of any major upsets but have the privilege of watching all 12 of the top-seeded teams play deep into March.
Cinderella is alive, but it is different this year. Double-digit seeds reaching the Sweet 16 is normally all the media talks about this week but now it is the predictability of the games that is the center of attention.
Poor Oregon is all alone. Teams sometimes get an easy Sweet 16 matchup against a subpar squad who captured lightning in a bottle during the first weekend but are not really that good. No such luck for the Ducks. They are joined in the Sweet 16 by 15 of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Literally, all of the good teams are still in.
This abnormality is the biggest story of the tourney thus far. I became very curious and wanted to see how this year’s lack of upsets compared to tournaments of past years. I went through the previous 10 NCAA tournaments and calculated a few numbers.
The first was simply totalling the number of First and Second Round upsets. I considered an upset any game in which a team seeded at least 2 spots lower won the game. 9 over 8 is not an upset. Neither was 5-seed Auburn’s win over 4-seed Kansas. I decided a 10 over a 7 should still count, even though many do not consider that to be a true upset.
I also totalled the number of 1, 2, and 3 seeds that are entering into the Sweet 16 and then found what the average seed for the Sweet 16 was. Of a possible 12, the number of 1, 2, and 3 seeds who are entering the second weekend in 2019 is … 12. This has not happened since 2009.
The average seed of the Sweet 16 teams this year is 3.06. Once again, that average has not been this low since 2009, when it was also 3.06.
A picture is worth a thousand words so a table of data has to be worth at least a few. Rather than bore you with words, I’ll simply let you browse my findings.
|Year||1st Round Upsets||2nd Round Upsets||# of 1, 2, 3 seeds in Sweet 16||Avg Seed of Sweet 16|
Did you know that last year was the most chaotic tournament of the decade? Did you know this year’s dance was nearly identical to the tourney in 2009?
Those who are complaining about the lack of early upsets need to look on the bright side. We are in for an awesome finale to March Madness. We get to sit back and let 15 of the nation’s true top teams battle it out.
The way we got here may have been a tad boring and predictable, but the final rounds should be anything but.
I can’t wait to watch! See you on top, boppers!
Kreighton loves sports, math, writing, and winning — he combines all of them as a writer for WagerBop. His favorite sports to review and bet are MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAAF, and NCAABB.