2023 March Madness: 68 bracket facts for men’s NCAA tournament

The wait is over. We have the 2023 NCAA draw. Let the March Madness officially begin.

There are many interesting storylines for this year’s men’s basketball tournament, one of which is the excitement around there being no clear favorite to cut the nets, making an already unpredictable event even more difficult to read. Plus, it’s also the first NCAA Tournament in 40 years without Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams on the sidelines!

Since many of our excellent Sportzshala college basketball analysts will be analyzing all the key matches and making their picks in the coming days, this column is meant to take a different streak based on historical facts only.

There are so many fun things to talk about – seeding, conference success (or lack thereof), and notable trends for specific schools and coaches in the 2023 tournament. In honor of the number of teams in the field, we’ll narrow it down to 68 of our favorites below, with additional information and context provided for each as it applies to this year’s draw.

To be clear, this column is not meant to be predictive. However, when you complete your Sportzshala Tournament Challenge bracket — you can submit up to 25 of them — decide if any of the facts below speak to you and make you lean in a particular direction. At the very least, I hope you find something interesting to discuss while watching The Big Dance with family and/or friends.

NOTE. All statistics are from 1985 (also referred to as the “modern era” throughout the column) unless otherwise noted. Also, any historical reference to “first round” refers to round 64 and “second round” refers to round 32. The first four stand on their own to avoid confusion. Also, all mentioned results ignore any subsequent freeing. For example, we consider Louisville the winner of the 2013 national championship despite the NCAA refusing to make it appear.


First four/early rounds

1. In 10 of the 11 tournaments that existed in the top four, at least one of its participants at large went to the second round.

• Two have qualified for the Final Four (UCLA in 2021 and VCU in 2011).
• Three more hit Sweet 16
• The first four teams at large this year are Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Arizona State and Nevada.

2. At least one top-4 seed lost in the first round in 13 of the last 14 tournaments (32 of 37 in total).

• Kentucky, seeded second, was the only casualty against the St. Peters last year.

3. Each of the last four No. 3 seeds that lost to the No. 14 seed came from the Big 12 Conference.

• Texas (2021), West Virginia (2016), Baylor (2015), Iowa (2015)
• The 12 big teams from Baylor and Kansas State make up half of the No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament.

4. In the last four tournaments, 12 of the 16 matches between the 4th and 13th seed have been decided by single digits – more than any seed pairing in the first round.

• Interestingly, only four of the 16 matches between the 8th and 9th seed were single figures.
• The No. 13 seed has won at least one game in 26 of 37 tournaments.

5. At least one #12 seed has beaten a #5 seed in 32 of 37 tournaments.

• Last year, a couple of 12s lost (Richmond beat Iowa, New Mexico beat Connecticut).

6. There has never been three tournaments in a row in which the 15th seed won.

• Over the past two years, we have witnessed a 15 seed win. some games
• Saint Peter’s moved to the Elite Eight last year and Oral Roberts made it to the Sweet 16 in 2021.
• No. 15 seeded 10-138 in first round games. Eight of these 10 winners finished in the top two spots of their conference standings.
• All four 15-seeded players this year ranked or finished first in their tournament standings: Colgate, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Vermont, and Princeton.

7. Strange but true: At-Large teams that finish under 0.500 in four games in a conference game are 5-0 in the first round.

• Last year, the 11th-ranked Iowa State team became the first such team to make the Sweet 16.
• West Virginia (7-11 in the Big 12) is the only team this year to finish under .500 in four games in the conference.

8. Second Round Surprise: No. 3 seed dominates No. 6 seed but struggles against No. 11 seed.

• 3rd seed – 9-1 in last 10 vs. 6th seed
• They are 4-6 in their last 10 games against 11 seeds

Sweet 16

9. All four No. 2 seeds have made the Sweet 16 just twice in the last 25 tournaments.

10. In the past five tournaments, only one seed, number 6, has made it to the Sweet 16.

• In 2021, USC entered the Elite Eight.

11. At least one No. 11 seed has made the Sweet 16 in 10 of the last 12 tournaments.

12. The double-digit seed has risen to the Sweet 16 in 14 straight tournaments and 35 of 37 overall.

• The four teams that finished 10th or lower have done so in each of the past two years. In the previous 35 tournaments, four or more double-figure seeds have survived the opening weekend only twice!

Elite eight

13. In six of the last eight tournaments, at least two teams ranked 6th or lower have made it into the elite eight.

14. There has never been an Elite Eight without at least one #1 seed.

• Only once in the last 12 tournaments have all four No. 1 seeds made the Elite Eight (2016)

Final four

15. At least one No. 1 seed has reached the Final Four in 10 consecutive tournaments and 14 of the last 15.

• In the Final Four, 30 of the 37 tournaments featured one or two #1 seeds (81%).
• The only time all four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four was in 2008.

16. It has been 31 years since seed number 6 last made it to the Final Four, perhaps the longest drought of any seed that looks like a Final Four.

• Only 6 seeded: Michigan (1992), Kansas (1988), Providence (1987)

17. At least one team ranked seven or below has qualified for the Final Four in eight of the last nine tournaments.

• In comparison, in the first 32 years of planting (1979-2010), this happened only eight times. general

18. Of the 34 teams that made the top 2 seed and made the AP top 10 after entering the unranked season, nobody advanced to the Final Four.

• Purdue started the season unranked but took first place and is currently ranked fifth in the AP poll.
• Five of the 12 teams ranked first according to these criteria lost in the first or second round.
• Marquette started the season unranked but finished 2nd and is currently 6th in the AP Poll • 14 of the 22 teams seeded 2nd under these criteria lost in the first or second round.

Championship game

19. Since seeding began in 1979, 71 of the 86 teams that have made it to the title game have finished in the top three.

• Surprisingly, the No. 8 seed has played five of the other 15 games, the most of any other seed.

20. Each of the last five champions has been seeded 1, and 12 of the last 15.

• No other seed has more than one title in this interval.

21. However, 10 years have passed since the last time general No. 1 seed won the title (Louisville 2013).

• Seven of the 18 previous overall No. 1 players have lost in the Sweet 16 or earlier.
• On their opening weekend, they lost more (four) than they won (three).
• This year’s No. 1 seed in Alabama.

22. It’s been 33 years since the last time a champion came from a conference that had fewer than four entries.

• UNLV in 1990 (Big West Conference with three entries) and Louisville in 1986 (Metro Conference with three entries) are the only schools to do so in the modern tournament era.
• This year, No. 1 seed Houston (American with two entries) and No. 3 seed Gonzaga (WCC with two entries) are the top-seeded teams looking to complete this streak.

23. No team has ever won a national championship after losing their first game in a conference tournament.

• Baylor (3rd seed) and Kansas State (3rd seed) are the only top four players to lose the first conference tournament this year.

24. Florida is the last school to repeat the championship (2007). Since then, no defending champion has progressed past the Sweet 16.

• Only two of the 14 reigning champions have since even has reached sweet 16
• In each of the last five tournaments they have lost in the first or second round.
• The defending champion Kansas are number one this year.

25. Since 2002, when KenPom started tracking this, 19 out of 20 national champions have finished in the top 25 in the adjusted offensive. And protective effectiveness.

• The only exception was UConn in 2014 (39th on offense, 10th on defense).
• Houston, Alabama, Texas, UCLA and UCLA currently qualify for this year’s tournament.
• Purdue, Kansas, Creighton, Texas A&M, FAU, Maryland, Memphis and Saint Mary’s are also pretty close to qualifying (top 40 in both) so they could make it towards the end of the tournament.

26. The No. 5 seed has never won a championship, the only top 8 seed to have not.

• Only three 5-seeded players made it to the title game: Butler (2010), Indiana (2002), Florida (2000), and they all lost to the #1 seed.
• Fifth place this year is occupied by Duke, San Diego State, Miami (FL) and St. Mary’s.


With the caveat that expectations for power conferences differ from those for the middle and minor leagues, there are conferences that have had more (or less) relative success in recent years. Some have simply experienced mixed results or have been an annual thorn in the side of taller seeds.

Positive vibrations

27. The Big 12 is trying to become the first conference in 30 years to win three national titles in a row.

• Baylor in 2021, Kansas in 2022.
• The ACC did it last, with Duke (1991 and 1992) and North Carolina (1993).
• The Big 12 team played in four consecutive Final Four tournaments for the first time.
• The conference has the top four seeds in this year’s tournament: Kansas, Texas, Baylor and Kansas State.

28. At least one ACC team has made the Sweet 16 in all 37 tournaments.

• Multiple Sweet 16 teams in 32 out of 37
• At least one Elite Eight team out of 33 out of 37
• At least one Final Four team out of 25 out of 37
• At least one team per…


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