Filling Out Your Bracket: The Sweet 16
This article is part of a series of articles that uses historical trends in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament to provide advice for predicting future results. Recent trends will be the most heavily considered, namely from 2000 to the present.
Other articles can be viewed from the links in the archives section at the bottom of the page.
No. 1 Seeds
Since 2000, 31 out of 36 (86 percent) No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16. Twenty-six out of those 31 (84 percent), or 72 percent of the original 36, have also advanced into the Elite Eight.
No. 1 seeds have played No. 4 seeds 11 times, No. 5 seeds 14 times, No. 12 seeds 5 times, and played a No. 13 seed once in the Sweet 16. They have won nine (82 percent) times against No. 4 seeds, 11 (79 percent) times against No. 5 seeds, and have won all six times in which they faced a No. 12 or No. 13 seed.
Overall, in Sweet 16 games, No. 1 seeds have an average margin of victory of 7.16 points per game in their favor. Against only No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, this average margin is still in their advantage at 5.64 points per game.
No. 2 Seeds
No. 2 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 19 times out of a possible 36 (53 percent) since 2000. They then have advanced to the Elite Eight 15 (79 percent) of those times. This equates to 42 percent of the original 36 No. 2 seeds since 2000 making the Elite Eight.
No. 2 seeds have played No. 3 seeds 11 times, No. 6 seeds seven times, and a No. 11 seed one in the Sweet 16. They have won eight (73 percent) times against No. 3 seeds, six (86 percent) times against No. 6 seeds, and won their only game against a No. 11 seed.
Overall, No. 2 seeds have had an average margin of victory of 6.53 points per game in their favor in Sweet 16 games. Against No. 3 seeds they win by 5.09 points per game on average, and against No. 6 seeds they win by 8.00 points per game.
No. 3 and No. 6 Seeds
There has been 15 times since 2000 that a No. 3 or No. 6 seed has been the lower seed in a Sweet 16 game, meaning that the No. 2 seed was upset in the first or second round in their side of the bracket.
The No. 3 or No. 6 seed has won nine of these 15 (60 percent) games. No. 3 seeds have won seven of ten (70 percent) games against a higher seed in the Sweet Sixteen, while No. 6 seeds have only won two of their five (40 percent).
In addition, a No. 3 or No. 6 seed has been the higher seed in a Sweet Sixteen game 18 times since 2000. Since they were the higher seed, this means they had to be playing a No. 2 seed.
The No. 3 or No. 6 seed has won four of these 18 (22 percent) games. No. 3 seeds have won three of 11 (27 percent) games against No. 2 seeds in the Sweet 16, while No. 6 seeds have won only one of their seven (14 percent).
No. 4 and No. 5 Seeds
There has been four times since 2000 that a No. 4 or No. 5 seed has been the lower seed in a Sweet 16 game, meaning that the No. 1 seed was upset in the second round in their side of the bracket.
The No. 4 or No. 5 seed actually lost three of these four games. The only win came against a No. 9 seed, whereas all of the three losses came against No. 8 seeds.
In addition, a No. 4 or No. 5 seed has been the higher seed (played a No. 1 seed) in a Sweet Sixteen game 25 times since 2000. The No. 4 or No. 5 seed has won only five (20 percent) of these. No. 4 seeds have won two of 11 (18 percent) games against No. 1 seeds in the Sweet 16, while No. 5 seeds have won three of their 14 (21 percent).
Here is the breakdown of how each conference has fared in Sweet Sixteen games since 2000 (wins, losses, winning percentage):
Big 12: 13-5 (72 percent)
Big Ten: 12-7 (63 percent)
Pac-10: 10-9 (53 percent)
ACC: 9-10 (47 percent)
SEC: 7-10 (41 percent)
Big East: 10-16 (38 percent)
Mid-Majors: 10-14 (42 percent)
Small Conf.: 1-1 (50 percent)
Here the Mid-Major conferences include the Atlantic Ten, Missouri Valley, WCC, CAA, Conference USA, Horizon League, MAC, WAC, and Mountain West. Small conferences include the Sun Belt and Southern Conference.
Note that there were a few Mid-Major conferences with very good Sweet Sixteen records (Atlantic Ten, Conference USA), and also a few with very bad records (Missouri Valley, Horizon, Mountain West).
On average, three of the four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight each year
If a No. 7, 8, 9, or 10 seed is able to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, then they also have a very good chance of advancing to the Elite Eight
No. 3, 4, 5, and 6 seeds have reached the Elite Eight at a surprisingly low rate
The Big 12 and Big Ten have fared very well in Sweet Sixteen games, while the SEC and Big East have fared poorly
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