Thursday, March 17, 2005


Let it never be said that sports coverage these days is shallow. Here is one-sixteenth of the article I just linked to (which you can't read without an ESPN subscription):

Three Seeds

  • While 84 percent of No. 3 seeds win their first-round games (67-13), they're three times more prone to upsets than second seeds. Consider this: The odds are better that a No. 1 seed will win two games than that a No. 3 seed will win one. How can you tell a first-round victor from an upset victim? The two most significant characteristics of No. 3 seed-upset victims are team inexperience and a lack of scoring punch. If you're rooting for a No. 3 seed that hasn't been to the tournament more than two years running and that scores fewer than 80 points a game, watch out. They're 2½ times as likely to be upset as No. 3 seeds without those characteristics (7-20 vs. 6-47 for a 26 percent losing rate compared with 11 percent).

  • Amazingly, only 38 of the 80 No. 3 seeds win their first two games. To put this in perspective, 34 of 80 top seeds win their first four games. The drop-off in winning percentage from the first round to the second is dramatic (84 percent to 57 percent). Of their two potential opponents in round two, No. 3 seeds have more trouble with No. 6 than No. 11 seeds. They nearly split their games against sixth-seeded teams (24-22), while they're 14-7 against No. 11 seeds.

  • Third-seeded teams are just 18-20 in Sweet 16 games. Not surprisingly, their biggest nemesis is No. 2 seeds. They're just 8-15 against second-seeded teams, 10-5 against other seeds.

  • As poorly as No. 3 seeds do in rounds two and three, they make a startling turnaround in Elite Eight games. Their 11-7 record is better than the record of No. 2 seeds (18-19). And they're the only seed that is able to give top seeds a run for their money, posting a winning 6-5 record against them.

  • Third-seeded teams have the best record (7-4) in Final Four games of any seed with more than two wins. What's more impressive is that they're 4-1 against top seeds in semifinal games.

  • Third-seeded teams have won two of the championships since the tourney expanded to 64 games in 1985. Syracuse did the trick in 2003, and Michigan did it in 1989. The Wolverines' opponent? Another No. 3 seed, Seton Hall.

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