Historical comparison: How unpredictable is this Sweet 16?

This is a fairly unpredictable field of 16, but it's far from the craziest we've ever seen. (Getty Images)

Florida Gulf Coast! Wichita State! La Salle!

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.

The craziest year was 1986. The most boring, just a few brackets back, in 2009. Twelfth-seeded Arizona was the only non-top-five seed to get to the second weekend.

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.

1986: 5.56
1990: 5.50
1999: 5.50
2000: 5.31    
2013: 5.06
2010: 5.00
2011: 5.00

1985: 4.88
1997: 4.81
1998: 4.75
2002: 4.69
2001: 4.56
2004: 4.56
2012: 4.56
2005: 4.50
2006: 4.44
1988: 4.38
2008: 4.38
1994: 4.25
1987: 4.19
1992: 4.19
2003: 4.19
1993: 4.06
1991: 4.00

1996: 3.69
1995: 3.19
2007: 3.19
1989: 3.13
2009: 3.06

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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