With three weeks left before the 2016 NCAA Tournament, we continue our eight-part seeding trend series today with our fourth installment, which features the 4-seeds and 13-seeds.
We are now just three weeks removed from the start of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament, which commences with the First Four from Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15th and 16th and continues with the round of 64, now the Second Round, on Thursday and Friday, March 17th and 18th. And while we will continue to provide NCAA basketball picks daily, here is the fourth of our eight-part series on seeding trends since 2001 beginning with that Second Round.
The round of 64 will take place at various sites as per usual, as the Thursday venues this year are Denver, Des Moines, Providence and Raleigh while Friday the venues move to Brooklyn, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Spokane. Remember that while teams are not allowed to be seeded literally on their home floors, the selection committee does give geographic preference to the top seeds, oftentimes placing them in either their home states or at the very least very nearby.
NCAA Tournament ATS Records are Since 2001
So we have gone back and analyzed the NCAA basketball odds boards by individual seed for every round of every NCAA Tournament since 2001, here presenting the results for two seeds daily. Today we examine the 4-seeds and 13-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 focus is still on the betting aspect, so the main emphasis will be on ATS performance.
First, keep in mind there was one format change that occurred during the course of this study, as up until 2011 there was only one play-in game between the 64th and 65th overall seeds in the entire tournament. That was the year that the tournament expanded to 68 teams however, thus giving birth to the First Four, which is actually four play-in games in two days but is now officially considered the First Round.
So now without any further ado, here is our look at the seeding trends for the 4-seeds and the 13-seeds over the last 15 NCAA Basketball Tournaments since 2001, with all of these ATS records based on the closing lines from Pinnacle Sports.
4-Seeds vs. 13-Seeds in Second Round
If you have been paying attention since the beginning of this series, you should be aware that the top three seeds are a combined 169-11 straight up in the Second Round since 2001, thus making those matchups poor spots to predict outright upsets when filling out your tournament brackets. However, now that we have reached the 4-seed vs. 13-seed matchup in the round of 64, upsets finally start to become more common.
In fact, 4-seeds have had more outright losses in the Second Round than the top three seeds combined, and that is despite going a perfect 4-0 straight up last season. That sweep still leaves the 4-seeds at 47-13 straight up in this round, as well as a nondescript 30-29-1 ATS, winning their games by an average score of 74.0-65.1. And while the 4-seeds were perfect straight up last year, they were only 1-3 ATS with Georgetown getting the only cover vs. Eastern Washington.
In fact the 4-seeds came very close to going 1-3 straight up as the three non-covering wins were by a grand total of seven points with North Carolina and Louisville both winning by two points over Harvard and Cal Irvine respectively, while Maryland nipped Valparaiso by three points.
What Have 4-Seeds Done Afterwards?
The 4-seeds that have moved on to the Round of 32 have not been great bets overall despite going a semi-respectable 27-20 straight up while winning by an average score of just 69.5-66.9, as that has resulted in just a 20-26-1 ATS mark.
Last season was a mediocre one for the 4-seeds the Round of 32 as they went 2-2 both straight up and ATS. What was rather interesting though was that three of those 4-seeds actually closed as underdogs and two of those were the losers, with only Louisville pulling the mild upset as a two-point underdog to fifth seeded Northern Iowa.
The Sweet 16 has not been kind to the 4-seeds that have gotten this far, as they have gone dismal 9-18 straight up, although they are over .500 at a still not profitable 14-13 ATS. Keep in mind though that 23 times this round, the 4-seeds have been matched up with 1-seeds, so the weak straight up record actually makes sense. The 4-seeds are 7-16 straight up in those meetings with top seeds and 12-11 ATS, losing by an average score of 68.0-70.6.
When matched up with lower seeds, the 4-seeds are 2-2 both straight up and ATS, winning by an average score of 74.5-68.5. Last season produced a logical split both straight up and ATS for the 4-seeds, as North Carolina lost to the top seeded eventual national finalists from Wisconsin while Louisville won and covered its easier matchup with eighth seeded NC State.
The 4-seeds that have reached the Elite Eight are a 6-3 straight up and 5-4 ATS, with two of the straight up losses coming in each of the last two years to 7-seeds. The oddity remains though that 4-seeds are 4-1 both straight up and ATS when matched up with higher seeded 2-seeds or 3-seeds in the Elite Eight, winning those games by an average of 70.2-61.2.
However, the loss by Louisville to Michigan State last year made the 4-seeds 1-3 ATS (2-2 straight up) when matched up with 7-seeds, with the teams being dead even in terms of scoring at 72.3-72.3!
Unfortunately, the 4-seeds have reached the Final Four round have gone just 1-5 straight up and 2-4 ATS, and furthermore the only straight up win was tainted because it came the only time two four-seeds have opposed each other, which happened when Michigan beat Syracuse in 2013. In other words, 4-seeds are 0-4 straight up and 1-3 ATS in the Final Four round the last 15 tournaments when facing other seeds, losing by an average score of 54.5-64.0.
As you can probably deduce, that 2013 Michigan team was the only 4-seed over the 15-year study to make the NCAA Championship Game, and is lost both straight up and ATS to Louisville 82-76.
What Have 13-Seeds Done Afterwards?
The 13-seeds that have reached to the Round of 32 are 3-10 straight up and 5-7-1 ATS, losing by an average score of 61.6-69.4. While no 13-seed advanced this far last season, two of the three straight up winners did come within the last four years, first with Ohio bearing South Florida in 2012 and then with La Salle beating Mississippi in 2013.
And the Sweet 16 marked the end of the line for the 13-seeds that have gotten this far since 2001, as the three straight up losses have been by an average score of 62.3-75.0. The 13-seeds did go 1-2 ATS, with the lone cover being by that 2012 Ohio team in a 73-65 loss to North Carolina.