March 24, 2023

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 8 comments

I've been following the men's NCAA tournament since the mid 1970's and I'm trying to remember if there was ever a Final Four (or even an Elite Eight) with no Number 1 seeds.

I don't know if Nostradamus could have predicted the results thus far.

posted by beaverboard at 10:19 PM on March 24, 2023

No, this is the first time ever with no 1 seeds in the eight. I don't know about the final four - the normal articles went around before the tournament started listing how to pick your bracket just based on the historical performance of different seeds, and I think I might remember there being advice to have at least one 1 seed in the final four because there have only been x final fours without them, but I don't remember what x was or if I'm imagining that.

Today was also the first 6 vs 15 seed game ever.

posted by LionIndex at 01:26 AM on March 25, 2023

The number I thought I remembered x being was actually right, and I didn't make it up. There have been three final fours without 1 seeds: 1980, 2006, 2011

posted by LionIndex at 01:29 AM on March 25, 2023

Thanks for checking that out. I didn't realize there had been that many oneless fours.

I remember the 1980 Final Four pretty well. It was the first one after the seismic landmark 1979 final group featuring Magic and Bird that reset so many people's horizons about the tournament. The 1980 four was much less historic.

posted by beaverboard at 03:36 PM on March 25, 2023

Depending on what happens with the Sunday games there could be a Final Four without a 1, 2, or 3 seed.

I can't remember a Final Four that didn't have a 1, 2 or 3 seed.

I think 1980 came pretty close.

posted by beaverboard at 11:53 PM on March 25, 2023

The tournament seeding formula has been broken for a while. A high weighting is given to teams from certain conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 10). Teams from the bigger conferences rarely if ever schedule games against lesser known non-conference opponents so these smaller conference teams are always under seeded. There is also a huge amount of skew towards the one and done factories simply because they always have the most talent.

Some examples from this year: Purdue finishes the season with a near 0.500 record down the stretch but gets a 1 seed. Gonzaga gets a 3 seed even though they got hammered by every other tournament team but St.Mary's. Florida Atlantic enters the tournament on a 10 game winning streak with a 35-3 record and is seeded 9.

posted by cixelsyd at 01:09 PM on March 26, 2023

I'll agree that seeding has been a bit off and preference has been given to teams from conferences that don't deserve the benefit of the doubt that they're apparently being given, but major conference schools schedule a bunch of games against the little guys every year, mixed in with a few out of conference games against big conference schools either out of TV contract obligations or because they're participating in an early-season tournament (which mid-major schools also participate in). So Virginia, my alma mater, generally has a 30 game schedule. 20 of those games are in conference. One game for the last 23 years has been against a Big Ten school for the ACC - Big Ten Challenge, part of a contractual obligation to ESPN (this year we played Michigan). Lately we've been doing the early season tournaments (and winning them) so that ends up being a couple games (Illinois and Baylor this year). The other 5-7 games are smaller schools, generally in the geographic are of the school - this year on the schedule we had Monmouth, NC Central, Northern Iowa (frequently a tournament team), James Madison (who have beat us recently), Maryland-Eastern, and Albany (also gets to the tournament every once in a while). Also Houston, which has been a powerhouse lately but is still in a mid-major conference (that changes next year when they join the Big Twelve). A quarter of the schedule every year is hardly "rarely if ever".

There's some weird thing going on with whatever criteria the selection committee is using where the Big Ten gets a ton of bids and consistently fails to deliver commensurate results in the tournament, while the ACC is being penalized for some reason, and I could see that logic being extended to other smaller conferences that only get one bid, and that's probably why the 12 is such a common upset - it's usually a small conference team that crushed everybody against a middling power 5 team, and that situation seems to be spreading down to lower seeds in the bracket where 13-15 seeds are winning a lot more frequently and 15s are even making the sweet 16 with some regularity, which used to be unheard of.


posted by LionIndex at 10:05 PM on March 26, 2023

Great insightful commentary from you both.

posted by beaverboard at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2023

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