The madness kicks off Thursday. For Syracuse, it can start the upset domino on Friday in its first round date with 6th seed San Diego State. A positive for SU is it seems to enjoy the underdog limelight. In 2016, the 10th seeded Orange made it to the Final Four and in ‘17-’18, the 11th seeded ‘Cuse trekked its way to the Sweet 16.
Aside from Syracuse’s underdog success, it’s often known that upsets in general are bound to happen, and one double digit seed in particular steals the spotlight. That’s the 11th spot.
In the last decade, of the 280 first round tournament games that involve a double-digit seed (10 to 16), a total of 73 have resulted in upsets. That equates to a 37% chance an upset occurs in the round of 64 (disregarding the 8-9 seed matchup due to its likely even odds). This shows that upsets are very prominent, especially when the odds makers give a better chance of victory to the higher seed in most instances.
This is where the 11 seed comes into play.
Not only do teams slotted in the 11 spot account for 29% of double-digit seed upsets in the last ten years, but the ’10s favored the 11 over the six seed percentage-wise. In the 40 meetings between six and 11 seeds since 2010, 21 of the underdogs came out victorious. This gives the 11s a 53% chance to win in the round of 64. It is the only double-figure seed to have a better percentage chance than its single-digit competitor.
This is not a prediction that the Orange will top the Aztecs on Friday, rather it is a reminder that history, more times than not, repeats itself. In eight of the last ten NCAA tournaments, at least two 11s have upset sixes in the first round.
If Syracuse plays like it has in the past four games, history is on its side. But as much as the 11 seed epitomizes the madness of March, it’s up to the ‘Cuse and how they perform to see if recent history holds true.