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What madness?

This year's NCAA tournament far from the craziest

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Posted: Tuesday March 21, 2000 02:10 AM

  Ryan Flood Gonzaga has advanced to the Sweet 16 two years in a row as a No. 10 seed. Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport

By Ryan Hunt,

Let's get this straight. Top-seeded Arizona and Stanford each go down in the second round. Only one No. 2 seed (Iowa State) remains. Man, this is the craziest NCAA tournament since ... last year.

Believe it or not, the carnage that has rocked Bracketville is not record setting. How soon we forget that last year's tournament had five double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16, including 13th-seeded Oklahoma and 12th-seeded Southwest Missouri State.

So, that begs the question: What was the craziest NCAA tournament ever?

If you use the "Upset Index" -- which is the sum of the seeds of the remaining 16 teams -- the 1986 tournament ranks as the most upset-happy heading into the Sweet 16, since the tournament expanded to 64 in 1985.

Tournament Tremors
Highest sum of remaining
seeds in Sweet 16
Year  Upset
1-3 seeds
1986  89 
1999  88 
1990  88 
2000  85 
1985  78 
1997  77 
1998  76 

That year, nine of the top 16 seeds were eliminated before the Sweet 16, while Cleveland State became the first 14 seed ever to make it. And 11th-seeded Louisiana State was beginning its Final Four run. The '86 tournament had an "Upset Index" of 89.

A perfect score would be 40, accomplished if the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals in each of the four regions.

With a combined total of 85, this year's Sweet 16 has only the fourth-highest total, trailing only 1986 (89), '90 and '99 (both 88). But that may be only because this year's Sweet 16 doesn't have a true Cinderella.

As 10 seeds, Gonzaga and Seton Hall are the highest remaining seeds. The only other tournament that had a lower high seed in the Sweet 16 was 1995, when No. 6s Memphis, Georgetown and Tulsa were the highest-seeded teams to advance.

In terms of sheer upsets among the top seeds, however, this tournament ranks as the most amazing. Eight of the top 12 seeds already have been sent home, the highest total entering the Sweet 16 in the tournament's 64-team history.

Where's Cinderella?
Lowest seeds in Sweet 16
Year  Seed  Team(s) 
2000  10  Gonzaga, Seton Hall 
1999  13  Oklahoma 
1998  13  Valparaiso 
1997  14  Chattanooga 
1996  12  Arkansas 
1995  Three teams 
1994  12  Tulsa 
1993  12  George Washington 
1992  12  New Mexico State 
1991  12  Eatern Michigan 
1990  12  Ball State 
1989  11  Minnesota 
1988  13  Richmond 
1987  12  Wyoming 
1986  14  Cleveland State 
1985  12  Kentucky 

Without turning the NCAA tournament into a math problem (we are talking college basketball after all), this year's regional semifinalists match the highest median seeding.

With a median (which is the middle seeding) of 5.5, only the 1990 tournament can match such parity among seeds.

But it doesn't take sixth-grade algebra to figure out that upsets have always been a part of the NCAA tournament.

How rare is it for the bracket to actually hold to form? Since 1985, only six of the 64 regions had the top four seeds advance to the regional semifinals.

The calmest Sweet 16 in history was in 1989, when all four 1s and 2s advanced, creating an "Upset Index" of only 51. The only "party crashers" were fifth-seeded Virginia and North Carolina State and 11th-seeded Minnesota.

Related information
No. 5 seeds must proceed with caution against 12 seeds
Statitudes: NCAA tournament tidbits
Fresno St.'s Alexander fails to break scoring jinx
Statitudes: Cinderella a no-show to Big Dance
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