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March Madness Upset Alert
History of March Madness Upsets
March Madness is upon us! Will we see any upsets this year? The NCAA defines a March Madness upset as a victory by a basketball team seeded five or more levels below its defeated opponent. In the 22 March Madness tournaments since 2000, there have been a total of 176 upsets:
Total Upsets Per Round In March Madness
- 110 in the first round
- 50 in the second round
- 6 in the Sweet 16
- 7 in the Elite 8
- 3 in the Final 4
Average Upsets Per Round In March Madness
- First Round: 5 Upsets
- Second Round: 2.27 Upsets
- Sweet 16: .27 Upsets
- Elite 8: .318 Upsets
- Final 4: .136 Upsets
We dug into more March Madness history, from the teams experiencing the most upsets to those delivering them over the past couple of decades. While betting apps roll out odds & brackets this week, let’s see if history is any indication of what might be in store for 2023.
Most Upset Conferences and Teams
- Since 2000, an average of 8 teams have been upset in each March Madness tournament.
- Teams from the Big Ten (30), ACC (29), and Big 12 (26) have experienced the most upsets in March Madness since 2000.
- Wisconsin is the most upset team in March Madness since 2000, with 7 upsets; 33% of their March Madness appearances have ended in an upset.
- No. 6 seeds (44%), No. 5 seeds (41%), and No. 3 seeds (31%) are the most likely seeds to get upset in March Madness since 2000.
- Nearly 1 in 4 No. 1 seeded teams have experienced an upset since 2000 (an average of one No. 1 seed team in each March Madness tournament).
First-round upsets by seed matchups since 2000:
- 16 over 1 - 1 time (1%)
- 15 over 2 - 7 times (6%)
- 14 over 3 - 9 times (8%)
- 13 over 4 - 19 times (17%)
- 12 over 5 - 35 times (32%)
- 11 over 6 - 39 times (36%)
Conferences and Teams Delivering the Most Upsets
- Teams from the A-10 (21), Pac-12 (17), and ACC (17) have delivered the most upsets in March Madness since 2000.
- VCU, UCLA, Syracuse, and Gonzaga have delivered the most upsets in March Madness since 2000 (5 per team).
- No. 11 seeds were the most likely to deliver March Madness upsets since 2000 (59 total), followed by No. 12 seeds (41) and No. 13 seeds (20).
March Madness Upsets by Tournament Year
- Since 2000, March Madness tournaments in 2021 and 2022 saw the most upsets (13 each).
Number of top 3 seeds getting upset by year since 2010:
- 2022 - 7
- 2021 - 6
- 2019 - 0
- 2018 - 4
- 2017 - 3
- 2016 - 4
- 2015 - 3
- 2014 - 7
- 2013 - 4
- 2012 - 3
- 2011 - 6
- 2010 - 4
- Since 2000, about three teams seeded No. 1, 2, or 3 have gotten upset each year during March Madness, on average.
Greatest March Madness Upsets Since 2000
- The largest March Madness upset since 2000 occurred in 2018 when No. 16 seeded UMBC defeated No. 1 seeded Virginia.
- In the last two March Madness tournaments, two No. 15 seeded teams (Saint Peter’s and Oral Roberts) delivered first-round upsets.
- Since 2000, at least one double-digit seeded team has delivered an upset each year.
What’s in Store for 2023?
Since more March Madness upsets happened in 2021 and 2022 than in any season since 2000, we may be in for some surprises this year. Will history repeat itself with the Big Ten or ACC getting upset yet again? Will VCU be delivering another? We’ll just have to tune into the madness and see what happens.
March Madness Upset Predictions
#11 Over #6 (36% of Upsets)
- South: 11 NC State (23-10) Over 6 Creighton (21-12)
- East: 11 Providence (21-11) Over 6 Kentucky (21-11)
- Midwest: 11 Pittsburgh (23-11) Over 6 Iowa St. (19-13)
- West: 11 Arizona St./Nevada Over 6 TCU (21-12)
#12 Over #5 (32% of Upsets)
- South: 12 Charleston (31-3) Over 5 San Diego St. (27-6)
- East: 12 Oral Roberts (30-4) Over 5 Duke (26-8)
- Midwest: 12 Drake (27-7) Over 5 Miami (FL) (25-7)
- West: 12 VCU (27-7) Over 5 Saint Mary’s (26-7)
For this study, we analyzed all NCAA March Madness games ending in an upset from 2000 to 2022 (the 2020 tournament was excluded due to cancelation). An upset was defined as a victory by a team seeded five or more seeds below their opponent. Conference upset data is based on the schools that are currently in the conference.
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