Filling out Your Bracket: The Elite Eight

Brett LissendenSenior Analyst IMarch 13, 2009

This article is one of a series 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, 26 out of 36 (72 percent) No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight. Fifteen out of those 26 (58 percent), or 42 percent of the original 36, have also advanced into the Final Four. 


No. 1 seeds have played No. 2 seeds 11 times in the Elite Eight, and they have won only five (45 percent) of those games. No. 1 seeds have played No. 3 seeds eight times, winning only four (50 percent). They have played five games combined in the Elite Eight against No. 6, No. 7, and No. 10 seeds, and have won all of them. They have also played against a No. 11 seed twice, winning once and losing once.


Overall in Elite Eight games, No. 1 seeds have an average margin of victory of 1.77 PPG.  Against No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, their average margin of victory drops slightly to 0.58 points per game.



No. 2 Seeds


No. 2 seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight 15 times out of a possible 36 (42 percent) since 2000. They have gone on to advance to the Final Four eight (53 percent) of those times. This equates to 22 percent of the original 36 making the Final Four since 2000.


No. 2 seeds have played No. 1 seeds 11 times, and also a No. 4 seed, No. 5 seed, No. 8 seed, and a No. 12 seed once each. Interestingly, the No. 2 seeds have fared just as well in Elite Eight games against No. 1 seeds (winning 55 percent of the time) as they have against the lower seeds combined (winning 50 percent of the time).


Overall, No. 2 seeds have an average margin of victory of 2.4 PPG in Elite Eight games.





Here is the breakdown of how each conference has fared in Sweet 16 games since 2000 (wins, losses, winning percentage):


ACC: 8-1 (89 percent)

Big Ten: 7-4 (64 percent)

SEC: 4-3 (57 percent)

Big East: 5-5 (50 percent)

Big 12: 6-8 (43 percent)

Pac-10: 4-6 (40 percent)

Other: 2-9 (18 percent)


The other conferences (besides power conferences) that have played in the Elite Eight since 2000 are the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, MAC, CAA, and Southern Conference.





No. 1 seeds have no advantage over No. 2 or No. 3 seeds in Elite Eight games, but it is much more difficult for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed to reach the Elite Eight than for a No. 1 seed.


No. 2 seeds have won about half of their Elite Eight games, and have actually done better when they play a No. 1 seed than when they play a lower seed.

The ACC has won eight of nine Elite Eight games since 2000.

The Big 12 and Pac-10 have relatively poor records in the Elite Eight.

Non-power conferences have had very little success in Elite Eight games since 2000.




Use Conference Tendencies for the Final Four

Seeds Making the Final Four

Cinderellas to the Elite Eight and Beyond

“Easy” First Round Picks

Make-Or-Break First Round Picks

Tough First Round Picks

No. 1 and No. 2 Seeds in the Second Round

Other Second Round Games

The Sweet Sixteen

The Final Four