March Still Full of Madness, But Not as Much as Advertised

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:

The wait for the 2011 NCAA men’s basketball tournament to restart is almost over. And while the approximately 90-hour wait between theend of the third round and the start of the Sweet 16 seems endless, it in fact leaves plenty of time for analysis.

In this case, it’s time to defuse the theory that upsets reign supreme. As a refresher, here’s a list (by seed) of the remaining teams:

1 – Ohio State, Duke, Kansas
2 – North Carolina, San Diego State, Florida
3 – Connecticut, BYU
4 – Kentucky, Wisconsin
5 – Arizona
8 – Butler
10 – Florida State
11 – Marquette, VCU
12 – Richmond

If history has anything to do with it, there’s a very strong chance that Ohio State, Duke or Kansas will make it to Houston — and it might be all of them. Since 2000, only once (in 2006) has a No. 1 seed not made the final four and only three times — No. 3 Syracuse in 2003, No. 2 Connecticut in 2004 and No. 3 Florida in 2006 — has a top seed not cut down the nets.

It should also be noted that 2008 was the only time all four top seeds have made it to the final four. That’s not going to happen this year,thanks to Pitt’s loss to Butler, but the general pattern of past final fours could repeat.

Last year, Duke was the only top seed to make the final four and it beat No. 5 Butler to capture the title. The other two teams were No. 2 West Virginia and No. 5 Michigan State. In 2007 and 2009, the lowest-seeded team to make the final weekend was No. 3 Villanova in 2009. Otherwise, there were four top seeds and three No. 2s participating.

George Mason, as a No. 11 seed, is the lowest final four team over that span — and that happened in the top-seedless 2006 tournament. The Patriots were joined by the champion Gators, No. 2 UCLA (the runner-up) and No.4 LSU. The Bruins, by the way, made three straight final four appearances from 2006-2008 — only once as a top seed.

In 2000, Michigan State won the title over No. 5 Florida, with No. 8 seeds North Carolina and Wisconsin joining the party. The final fours of 2001, 2002 and 2005 all included multiple top seeds, while 2003 and 2004 had only one.

Where does that leave us for this year? Based on some history and prognostication, two No. 1 seeds (Ohio State and Kansas) make the final four along with No. 2s San Diego State and Florida.

Of course, that could all be thrown out the window — but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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