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The Dreaded Middle Seeds - Are They the Worst Seeds in the NCAA Basketball Tournament?


  • Morris Tracy L.

    (University of Central Oklahoma)

  • Bokhari Faryal H.

    (University of Central Oklahoma)


The following quote from Gregg Doyel in reference to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament appeared on on March 21, 2009. “For teams with a realistic chance at winning multiple games in the NCAA tournament,…the worst seed to have is the No. 8 or the No. 9. That’s statistical certainty.” Is it really “statistical certainty”? This papers attempts to answer this question. Data concerning the number of games won by teams seeded 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 were collected from the NCAA men’s and women’s tournament brackets dating back to 1985 and 1994, respectively. It was found that among all teams entering the tournament, the 10, 11, and 12 seeds do not appear to have a statistical advantage over the 8/9 seeds. However, if only teams that win their first game are considered, the 10 seeds have a significantly greater mean number of wins than the 8/9 seeds in the men’s tournament; and the 10, 11, and 12 seeds in the men’s tournament and the 11 seeds in the women’s tournament have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (at least two wins) a significantly greater proportion of times than the 8/9 seeds.

Suggested Citation

  • Morris Tracy L. & Bokhari Faryal H., 2012. "The Dreaded Middle Seeds - Are They the Worst Seeds in the NCAA Basketball Tournament?," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 1-13, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:8:y:2012:i:2:n:2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baumann Robert & Matheson Victor A. & Howe Cara A., 2010. "Anomalies in Tournament Design: The Madness of March Madness," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-11, April.
    2. Coleman Jay & Lynch Allen K, 2009. "NCAA Tournament Games: The Real Nitty-Gritty," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 1-27, July.
    3. Boulier, Bryan L. & Stekler, H. O., 1999. "Are sports seedings good predictors?: an evaluation," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 83-91, February.
    4. Caudill, Steven B., 2003. "Predicting discrete outcomes with the maximum score estimator: the case of the NCAA men's basketball tournament," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 313-317.
    5. Steven Caudill & Norman Godwin, 2002. "Heterogeneous skewness in binary choice models: Predicting outcomes in the men's NCAA basketball tournament," Journal of Applied Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(7), pages 991-1001.
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