March Madness Upset Alert
2023 March Madness is coming to an end & wow, did we see a lot of 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. We did some research to see how the 2023 upsets compared to the previous 22 March Madness Tournaments since 2000 & explored what the historical statistics can tell us about potential upsets in future tournaments.
2023 March Madness Upsets So Far
- No. 16 Farleigh Dickinson University defeating No. 1 Purdue is the largest upset to take place in March Madness 2023, with the teams having a 15 seed difference. A No. 16 upset has only occurred 1 time since 2000.
- The Big 12 has suffered the most upsets so far (3), with Iowa State, Kansas, and Kansas State going down earlier than expected.
- While No. 12 over No. 5 and No. 11 over No. 6 outcomes are the most common upsets to take place (32% and 36%, respectively), only 1 took place in March Madness this year (No. 11 Pittsburgh defeated No. 6 Iowa State).
- Since 2000, Florida Atlantic University is only the 7th team to deliver an upset in the Sweet 16. They are the 8th team to deliver an upset in the Elite 8.
2023 March Madness Surprises
- Since 2000, every March Madness Elite 8 has had at least 1 No. 1 seed participate. In 2023, we had none.
- For the first time ever in March Madness history, the Final 4 doesn’t have a top 3 seed participating.
- The average seed in this year’s Final 4 is 5.75. This is the second-highest seed average since 2000 (6.5 in 2011).
Final 4 Matchup Outlook
- UConn (4) vs. Miami (5)
- San Diego State (5) vs. Florida Atlantic University (9)
Outlook on Outcomes (Statistics Based on March Madness Final 4 Games Since 2000)
- In 6 appearances in the Final 4, No. 4 seeds are 1-5. The lone No. 4 seed to advance to the championship game lost (No. 4 seed Michigan in 2013).
- UConn has shaken up the Final 4 before, as the only team to win the NCAA championship without a No. 3 seed or better (No. 7 seed in 2014).
- Since 2000, No. 4 seeds are 22-20 in head-to-head matchups against No. 5 seeds.
- In 6 appearances in the Final 4, No. 5 seeds are 3-3. Each of the No. 5 seeds that advanced to the NCAA championship failed to win. If Miami and San Diego State advance to the NCAA championship this year, a No.5 seed will finally break through.
- Only 1 No. 9 seed has advanced to the Final 4 since 2000 (Wichita State in 2013). They failed to advance to the NCAA championship.
- Since 2000, No. 5 seeds are 1-1 in head-to-head matchups against No. 9 seeds.
History of March Madness Upsets
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.
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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