You heard it here first. In this year’s NCAA Tournament, a 16th seed will shock the world and upset a Number 1 seed for the first time in history.
This year’s college season has seen the digression of three previous powerhouses in college hoops. Those being Duke, Kentucky and Wisconsin. Out of these three teams, none of them are currently in the AP top 10. Duke and Kentucky were both preseason top five teams, but experienced sheer drop offs in the first half of the season. Wisconsin hit rock bottom, dropping to 9-9 at one point in the season and had head coach Bo Ryan retire midseason.
However, never count any of these three teams out, as all three are surging back into contention. Wisconsin has rattled off seven straight wins to put themselves squarely back on the bubble. Duke’s resurgence has seen them knock off (at the time) 5th ranked UNC, 7th UVA, and 13th Louisville in the last three weeks. Kentucky has won five of it’s last seven by convincing margins against it’s SEC competition.
According to Joe Lunardi, the projected 1 seeds are Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas and Villanova. This time last year, the eventual #1 seeds had a combined 7 losses, with no team more than three. This years projected #1 seeds have a combined 20 losses, with no team less than four.
Last years one seeds also had experience, as all of them have been either consistently going to the Final Four (with the exception of Villanova, who just happens to also be in this year’s projected 1 seed list).
2015 #1 seeds Final Four Appearances since 1990
Duke: ’90, ’91, ’92, ’94, ’99, ’01, ’04, ’10, ’15
Wisconsin: ’00, ’14, ’15
Kentucky: ’93, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’11, ’12, ’14, ’15
This year’s projected one seeds lack such final four consistency, with Kansas carrying the load.
Projected 2016 #1 Seeds Final Four Appearances since 1990
Kansas: ’91, ’93, ’02, ’03, ’08, ’12
All this to say, dominance has ceased to exist this year in college basketball, with six different number one’s, and teams cycling in and out of the top 5 weekly. And for those keeping up with college ball, it feels like a major upset happens every day. This regular season has been consistently inconsistent, and it is foreshadowing an absolutely ridiculous tournament.
In the past decade or so, there have been low seeds making the Final Four that really weren’t supposed to. Here are the seeds of the teams in three of such final fours in the last 10 years:
2006: #2 UCLA, #3 Florida, #4 LSU, #11 George Mason
2011: #3 Connecticut, #4 Kentucky, #8 Butler, #11 VCU
2014: #1 Florida, #2 Wisconsin, #7 Connecticut, #8 Kentucky (#7 and #8 advancing to the Championship)
Due to the lack of dominance this season, it would be a safe bet to expect another final four consisting of a wide variety of seeds. Even if a 16th seed doesn’t finally pull one out this year, this tournament will be nothing short of crazy. Good luck filling out a bracket.