Historical comparison: How unpredictable is this Sweet 16?
Florida Gulf Coast! Wichita State! La Salle! It's a nutty Sweet 16, folks -- or is it?
It's a nutty Sweet 16, folks -- or is it? You heard many people proclaim this year's NCAA tournament would just be the wildest, based on the events of the regular season. A lot of that talk was overblown. The regular season was a good, sometimes nutty ride, but by no means a massacre of predictability and/or stability at the top of the rankings.
The Sweet 16 is playing out to something of a mirror effect, then. You see some top teams -- like Gonzaga, Georgetown, New Mexico -- out before the second weekend, but nine of the 12 top clubs are still around. Yes, the Sweet 16 is also boasting a nine seed, a 13 seed and a 15 seed. It wasn't the most epic of first four days, but plenty enjoyable and delivering smolder to many a bracket.
Each year the tournament gives us a different domino effect. This year, the average seed of the remaining teams is proving to be on the wilder side. So how does it compare in the 64-team-or-more tournament era? Top five, in fact. You can thank record-breakers FGCU for that.
Thanks to ESPN Insider's John Gasaway for help with these figures. I find it fascinating to see how the seeds sneak through to the Sweet 16 each year. That 1986 field had 11-seeded LSU eventually make the Final Four, the first -- and still lowest, with a few others -- team placed that low to win four games in the Big Dance. The '09 Sweet 16 came a year after all four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four, still the only time that's happened.
Here are the means of the Sweet 16 seeds for every NCAA tournament since seeding began in the 64-team field 28 years ago.
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