I have been following the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for as long as I can remember and with Selection Sunday coming up, I wondered if there have been more or less upsets in recent tournaments. To look at this visually I used a hypothetical perfect bracket as a reference (i.e. #1 seed beats #16 seed, #2 seed beats #15 seed all the way to #1 seed beating a #2 seed). I took the sum of all the winning seed numbers at each round in the Regional Tournament and used that as the denominator for comparison with the other Regional Tournaments for that particular year.
I went back in time as far as I could but the 2007 Tournament finally harmonized the names of the Regional tournaments with the names East, West, South, and Midwest which made for easier comparison across years.
Clearly there have been quite a lot of upsets in the past ten years especially within the Midwest Region.
I then went back and looked at all games back to 1985 when the Tournament first expanded to 64 teams. For this I did not have all the Regional Tournament information so I just looked at all the games (except the Final Four).
The aggregate data is pretty volatile year over year as well with a low in 2007. If anything, this shows we should be in for another great year of NCAA tournament basketball complete with some (hopefully many) exciting upsets.