The 2016 NCAA Tournament is less than one month away and today we present the second of our eight-part series on seeding trends since 2001 featuring the 2-seeds and 15-seeds.
The NCAA Tournament is nearly here as it begins with the First Four from Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15th and 16th, now less than a month away. Next comes the round of 64, now referred to as the Second Round, on Thursday and Friday, March 17th and 18th, and while we will continue to provide daily NCAA basketball picks here at Sportsbook Review, this is the second of our eight-part series on seeding trends beginning with the Second Round.
The second round on Thursday and Friday will take place at various sites, with the Thursday venues this year being Denver, Des Moines, Providence and Raleigh and the Friday’s games taking place in Brooklyn, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Spokane. Teams are not allowed to be seeded literally on their home floors, but the selection committee gives geographical preferences to the top seeds, oftentimes placing them in either their home states or very nearby.
NCAA Tournament ATS Records are Since 2001
Moving on, we have gone back and analyzed the NCAA basketball odds by individual seed for every round of every NCAA Tournament since 2001, and after presenting the results for the 1-seeds and 16-seeds yesterday, we continue our series today with the 2-seeds and 15-seeds, which are the seeds that match up in the Second Round or round of 64. While we briefly discuss straight up records by seed by round, our primary emphasis will be on ATS performance.
One format change that occurred over the course of this study is that there used to be one play-in game between the 64th and 65th seeds in the entire tournament until 2011. That was the year that the tournament was expanded to 68 teams, and thus the First Four was born, which is effectively four play-in games, although those games are now officially recognized as the First Round.
So without any further ado, let us take a look at the seeding trends for the 2-seeds and 15-seeds since 2001, with all of these ATS records based on the closing lines at Pinnacle.
2-Seeds vs. 15-Seeds in Second Round
Unlike the 1-seeds that have gone a perfect 60-0 straight up in the round of 64 the last 15 years, the 2-seeds have not quite been perfect although they have gone a still dominant 56-4 straight up, winning by an average score of 75.7-60.1 for an average winning margin of +15.6 points.
However, also similar to the 1-seeds, that straight up dominance has not translated well at the betting windows. At least the 1-seeds were an even .500 ATS though, which is more than can be said about the 2-seeds as they are a disappointing 26-32-2, 44.8 percent ATS in the round of 64 since 2001.
Last year was par for the course as the 2-seeds escaped unscathed on the court going 4-0 straight up, and yet went just 1-3 ATS with Kansas being the only 2-seed to cover the spread beating New Mexico State by 19 points as a 9½-point favorite.
What Have 2-Seeds Done Afterwards?
Looking at the 2-seeds that have advanced to the Round of 32, they have disappointingly gone only 37-19 straight up, which is not nearly as good as you would have expected considering the 2-seeds were favored in 55 of those 56 games. The 2-seeds are 26-29-1, 47.3 percent ATS in this round, winning by an average score of only 72.4-68.7.
The 2-seeds had a 2-2 split both straight up and ATS last season, although one of the losses came the only time that the 2-seed was an underdog the last 15 years, as seventh seeded Wichita State actually closed as a 1-point favorite in its win over Kansas. The other 2-seed to lose was Virginia, which fell 60-54 to a seventh seeded Michigan State team that went on to advance to the Final Four.
Next, moving on to the Sweet 16, the news is somewhat mixed as the 2-seeds are a very good 28-9 straight up this round, but only 18-17-2 ATS while winning by an average score of 72.3-67.5. Last season was more of the same as the 2-seeds went 2-0 straight up but just split 1-1 ATS, with Arizona failing to cover as a 10½-point favorite in a 68-60 victory over Xavier.
Once the 2-seeds that have reached the Elite Eight, they have gone 13-15 straight up while going 12-15-1 ATS. However, there have also been two discernable trends that are the opposite of what you would expect.
You see, the 2-seeds are 11-8 both straight up and ATS when matched up with 1-seeds despite getting slightly outscored by an average of 73.6-71.8. Surprisingly though, 2-seeds are just 2-7 straight up and 1-7-1 ATS vs. lower seeds getting outscored 72.2-74.2 and are currently on a seven-game losing streak vs. such teams in the Elite Eight! They broke their usual pattern somewhat last year though going 0-2 straight up and ATS with both losses coming to 1-seeds.
Looking at the Final Four round, all 2-seeds are 6-7 straight up and 5-7-1 ATS, but that includes one matchup where 2-seeds opposed each other in 2012 with Kansas facing Ohio State. In games where 2-seeds have opposed other seeds in the Final Four round, they are 5-6 straight up and 4-6-1 ATS, going 3-3 straight up and 2-4 ATS vs. 1-seeds while getting outscored 70.7-72.2, and 2-3 straight up and 2-2-1 ATS vs. lower seeds winning by an average of 71.0-64.0.
Unfortunately the 2-seeds that have reached the National Championship Game have been terrible for the most part, going just 1-5 both straight up and ATS since 2001 while losing by an average score of 70.0-77.5. The only 2-seed to win the championship the last 15 years was Connecticut back in 2004.
What Have 15-Seeds Done Afterwards?
There have been four total 15-seeds to upset 2-seeds in their first game, but only one of those overachievers, the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles then went on to win their game in the Round of 32. Thus, the 15-seeds are 1-3 both straight-up and ATS in this round while losing by an average score of 61.5-75.3. Furthermore, the three losing 15-seeds were all routed by an average of -21.7 points, while Florida Gulf Coast beat San Diego State by 10 points 81-71.
The Sweet 16 marked the end of line for those 2013 Eagles though, but they did cover the spread one more time in a 62-50 loss to the Florida Gators as 14-point underdogs.