March Madness: 7 signs you picked too many NCAA tournament upsets
We know how fun it is to pick that 15 over a 2. Hey, it's March, so maybe it even makes sense to do it more than once. But that made us wonder: how do you know when you've overdone it and made too many upset picks?
Here's how, including a tip for those 15 vs 2 games:
1. You pick a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed
Look, we know it's tempting. Because it has to happen sometime, right?
However, only 15 games in the 1/16 matchup have been decided by less than 10 points. There hasn't been a game decided by one possession since 1996, before many of today's college players were alive. If you need more reasons to not pick a No. 16 seed to win in the first round, the average margin of victory for a No. 1 seed over a No. 16 seed has been nearly 30 points in the last two NCAA tournaments.
There's no doubt it would be a great story to tell your friends if you successfully predicted the first No. 16 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed (as Princeton almost did, above). Heck, we wouldn't blame you if you put it as a bullet point on your resume. But don't make that upset pick, we're warning you.
2. You pick more than 10 double-digit seeds to win in the first round or more than five in the second round
...and more than two to win in the Sweet 16. None of those things have ever happened since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams. On average, six double-digit seeds win in the first round, 2.2 in the second round and 0.5 in the Sweet 16.
In 2016, a record 10 double-digit seeds won in the first round and five double-digit seeds won in the second round in 1999. You're better off picking between four and eight double-digit seeds to win in the first round and two or three to win in the second round.
3. You don't have at least two Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16
There's a chance – if not almost a certainty – that the Big Ten will only send four teams to the 2018 NCAA tournament but history tells us it would behoove you to pick at least two of them to make the tournament's second weekend. In the last 10 years, at least two Big Ten teams have made the Sweet 16. In total, 28 Big Ten teams have made the second weekend since 2008.
Looking ahead to Selection Sunday, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State are all projected to be top-five seeds, according to BracketMatrix.com, so there's a chance all four are favored – based on their seed lines – to make the Sweet 16.
4. You don't have at least one ACC team in the Elite Eight
Since 2007, at least one ACC team has advanced to the Elite Eight in 10 of the 11 seasons. Most notably, four ACC teams made the Elite Eight in 2016 and three made it in 2015.
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5. The sum of the seeds of your Final Four teams is greater than 20
For the first 20 years of the 64-team tournament format, the number could have been 10, not 20. In 14 of the years, the sum of the seeds of the teams that made the Final Four was 10 or lower, but there have since been more dark horse teams making runs in March.
Since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, the average sum of the seeds of the Final Four teams is 11.2 and on just two occasions (2000, 2011), the total was greater than 20. It's fine, if not encouraged, if not realistic, to pick a dark horse team or two to make the Final Four – since 2013, at least one team seeded as a No. 7 or higher has made the Final Four every year – but don't get carried away.
6. You don't have any teams in the Final Four whose primary color is blue or orange
College basketball teams whose schools have a primary color of blue or orange have the two highest winning percentages of any color. "Blue" teams win NCAA tournament games at better than a 57 percent rate and "orange" teams win more than 54 percent of their tournament games.
When dividing total NCAA tournament wins since 1985 by the number of schools in each color group, orange schools average 10.8 NCAA tournament wins per school and blue schools have contributed 6.5 tournament wins on average.
Blue schools have combined for 21 national championships, the most of any color. And the only color of school that has a winning record against blue schools? Orange – they're 75-58 against blue schools since 1985.
7. You've picked a No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed without considering free throws
A common trait, if not the common trait among No. 15 seeds that have upset No. 2 seeds, is free throw shooting. And we're not talking about quality of free throw shooting, but rather quantity. Those upsets have historically come down to the No. 15 seed attempting and, more importantly, making more free throws than the No. 2 seed.