Thursday March 19th, 2015

Top seeds at the NCAA tournament have never lost to No. 16 seeds in their opening games, but they don't always cover the spread in those contests, as we take a look at the seed vs. seed trend breakdown in advance of the Round of 64.

Last year the top seeds turned in their typical 4-0 straight-up record in the Round of 64, with Virginia beating Coastal Carolina, Wichita State getting past Cal Poly, Arizona knocking out Weber State and Florida taking care of Albany. However, in those four games, only Wichita State managed to also pull off a cover, as they pounded Cal Poly by a score of 64-37.

The previous year, only Louisville managed to win both SU and ATS as a No. 1 seed in the first round when it beat North Carolina A&T by a score of 79-48. Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga all won, but failed to cover against the bottom seeds in their openers at that tournament, which means the No. 1 seed is 2-6 against the spread at the Big Dance in the past two seasons.

No. 2 seeds have been more profitable over that stretch, going 5-3 against the spread against No. 15 seeds in the past two tournaments. However, a No. 2 did get upset in that time, with Florida Gulf Coast ending Georgetown's Big Dance early with a 78-68 victory in the Round of 64 in 2013.

The most famous matchup in the Round of 64 is probably the No. 5 seed vs. the No. 12 seed, which has became a well-known bracket buster. Last year the No. 12 seed won three of its four games against the No. 5 seed straight-up, as Stephen F. Austin beat VCU, North Dakota State topped Oklahoma and Harvard got past Cincinnati.

Over the past three tournaments, the No. 5 seed has just four wins in a dozen games against the No. 12 seed, and they only covered the posted spread in three of those games at the sportsbooks; Saint Louis topped North Carolina State 83-80 in the Round of 64 last season in its No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup but only managed a push against the posted spread.

And you would think that the No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed matchup would be practically even, but the No. 8 seed has had the decided edge recently with eight wins and just four losses in the Round of the 64 of the tournament the past three years, covering the spread each time.

Last year, Kentucky, Memphis and Gonzaga all won as No. 8 seeds in the Round of 64 at the tournament, while No. 9 seed Pittsburgh thumped No. 8 Colorado by a score of 77-48.

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