The Sports Gag

March Madness – Rise of the #16 Seed

2013 March Madness, NCAA Basketball, #16 SeedThis could be the year a #16 seed knocks off a #1. In the history of the Division I NCAA Tournament a #16 seed has never defeated a #1 seed. There have been some close ones. Four times a #16 seed has come within 4 or fewer points of knocking off the #1 seed.

  • #16 Murray State lost to #1 Michigan State by 4 points in 1990 and became the only #16 to take a game to overtime
  • #16 East Tennessee State lost to #1 Oklahoma by 1 point in 1989
  • #16 Princeton lost to #1 Georgetown by 1 point in 1989
  • #16 Western Carolina lost to #1 Purdue by 2 points in 1996

This season has been a rollercoaster for NCAA basketball. It seems the top 5 in the AP standings get randomly shuffled weekly, and just as soon as a new team earns the #1 ranking they are knocked off by a much lower ranked or unranked team. During the course of the season there have been 5 different teams that have risen to the #1 spot in the AP rankings.

This volatility is a product of the parity in college basketball right now. Many have complained about the “one and done” phenomenon that has arisen from college players quickly packing up and heading off to the NBA. Can you blame them? Those guys get paid stupid money. And, face it…which sounds better to the 20 year old ultra talented athlete?

  1. I can be king of the campus living on booster cash and get all kinds of college ass, or
  2. I’m a professional basketball player in the NBA making fat coin and there are no limits to the amount of ass I can get.

No brainer, right? It’s not fair to blame these kids for taking advantage of an opportunity. The downside is as college basketball fans we now lose the ability to follow that college star through a four year career. Teams no longer have the multiple years of dominance because of a few super stars. Instead, the rise and falls are more sharp and the college basketball landscape is more even. There is a more parity. And, in my opinion, this makes watching NCAA hoops more enjoyable.

That being said, this has to be the #16’s year. If there ever was a time for the big tournament upset to happen, this is the year. Talk about One Shining Moment. With the parity we’ve seen and the kinds of ups, downs, and surprises so far in the season, why not throw in a #16 defeat of a #1 seed during March Madness? It’s going to happen. If not this year, then soon. College basketball may not have the star power of yesteryear, but it has the entertainment value.

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