NCAA Seeding Debate

I was looking through some NCAA tournament predictions today, and it got me thinking about seedings. More specifically, it got me thinking about the games between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds and the games between the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds. Now, if you were a tournament team and you landed a No. 8 seed, you would probably be pretty happy as an at-large team. You are technically favored to win in the first round, and that’s a good thing, right? Well, maybe not.

I thought, you know, I would rather have my team as a No. 10 seed than a No. 8 seed. A No. 7 seed would really be great, but that was probably two wins away during the regular season, where a No. 10 seed might have been just a few missed free throws and an extra turnover or two in a couple game from becoming real. 

The way I see it, both games (8 vs. 9 and 7 vs. 10) have the same coin-flip odds in the first round. I don’t know the exact numbers, but if you could find them, I would bet the percentage of games the top seed has won in those games is about equal – and the numbers are probably pretty close to 50-50. What I’m getting at is, your team would have the same virtual coin-flip chance of winning the first round game if you were an 8 seed or a 10 seed. But instead of getting matched up against a No. 1 seed in the second round – where most likely your team will lose – you get to go against a No. 2 seed, where history is a little more in your favor. Think of how many times a team in the top-4 in the country loses. Sure, this year might be a bit of exception with the No. 1 team falling so often, but then look at how many times teams ranked No. 5 through No. 8 have been bumped off.

Not to mention, it is extremely rare but, a No. 15 seed has knocked off a No. 2 in the past – while a No. 1 seed has never lost in round one. I would have to say your team has much better odds for advancement in the tournament as a 10 seed than it does as an 8 seed, and that is kind of a crazy thought, that the lower seeded team has a better shot at advancing.

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