Lack Of Major Upsets Good or Bad For March Madness?

Kirby Lee

Benjamin Fox Contributor
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Last year’s March Madness was one of the most epic tournaments in recent memory. Whether it was Sixteen-Seed UMBC’s miraculous victory over Virginia or Sister Jean and Loyola Chicago’s trip to the Final Four, the tournament was filled with upsets.

Well, so far this year, that has not been the case. The NCAA is reporting record TV ratings, but aside from yesterday, the tournament has been largely underwhelming. (RELATED: March Madness TV Ratings Hit 28 Year High, Skyrocket 20 Percent On Streaming)

While there have technically been 13 upsets through the round of 32, the tournament has lacked a true Cinderella story. According to USA Today, this is only the second time ever that the top three seeds from each region have all reached the Sweet Sixteen.

We almost had our first major upset Sunday afternoon, when Duke edged out UCF 77-76 in a game that came down to the final buzzer. Alas, the Sweet Sixteen is mostly chalk — as Oregon is the only team seeded outside of the top five. (RELATED: Duke Survives Massive Scare From UCF In The Second Round Of The NCAA Tournament)

So why the lack of upsets? Maybe this has to do with the NCAA’s decision to incorporate NET ratings into their seedings. Each of the top 10 teams in terms of NET ratings earned itself a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

Is it possible that analytics have had a negative impact on the game of basketball? It certainly can’t hurt to have more information, but I do believe the incorporation of analytics into the college basketball rankings may lead to a continued decrease in the number of upsets.

Call me crazy but I am hoping the NCAA recognizes this as a real issue and finds a way to restore March Madness to its usual level of unpredictability.

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