INFOGRAPHICS: Comparing upsets, score differentials for Round of 64
The Round of 64 was a blast -- but turns out it wasn't one of the better first two full days of the NCAA Tournament. At least according to this data.
I'm of the belief that this year's Round of 64 gave us two full, frenzied, dramatic, memorable and tiring -- enjoyably exhausting -- days. I think it was among the three or four best starts to the NCAA Tournament in the past two decades.
But is recency bias affecting our impressions? The data below suggests we've had many other tourneys with heavier seismic impact in the formerly-known-as first round/Round of 64.
The charts track the NCAA Tourney since 1985, when the field went to 64 teams. We have the average difference between winning and losing teams -- margin of victory -- for all 32 games. The 2014 Round of 64 gave us an 11.9 score margin, certainly making it better than a year ago, when it was 15.2
The closest starting salvos we've ever seen? It's intriguing to see how the field was so squeezed in that first year of bracket expansion. And 2005-2006 gave us consecutive years or really good play to start things off.
To narrow the scope more specifically, let's look at the pattern of the patsies. How have the No. 16s collectively fared over 30 years of seeding?
You can see the gap is closing, and Friday night's Virginia game gave many some hope that Coastal Carolina would be the one to finally break through. (I remained skeptical all the while!) The Chanticleers led by five at halftime, following a double-digit lead early. But the Cavs rallied and were in control with five minutes to go. Tony Bennett's team went on to win 70-59.
This year's margin of victory for No. 1s was 14.75, among the lowest ever. Had Wichita State not acted the role of traditional No. 1 seed bully -- beating Cal Poly by 27 -- the margin would've likely been the second-smallest ever.
And finally, here's our infographic on how many upsets, by seed, we've seen so far. Now, for as fun as the first full two days were, we actually didn't surpass Round-of-64 upsets from four of the past five NCAA Tournaments.
As you can see, three of the past four have totaled 20 uspets according to seeding. This weekend has a lot of work to do to keep pace. I'd love to see it try.
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