|[b] First Round RF|
|[b] Event RF|
Montana, South Dakota State, and Harvard. They'll remember.
Early on this Saturday morning, with the last game fading from event to history just moments ago, I want to consider what happened in Round One this year and to reflect just a bit on matters of structure, history, and culture.
|[c] Prediction/historic/wrong RF|
#1 plays #16 #5 plays #12
That's the structure. I have not shown how the second, third, and fourth rounds look. They are another matter for another....year. We'll deal with that stuff in the 2013 tournament (I think). For now, let's stick closely to structural-historical matters in Round One (Thursday and Friday, March 15-16, 2012). The "theory" is that the lower (better) seed will beat the higher (less accomplished) one. That is how the structure has been erected, and results have flowed through the structure like so many dominoes falling into rhythmic place.
Events play out differently sometimes (that's why they play the games and the fat lady sings), but—now that the "sixty-four" team tournament has a history of its own—we can actually see how things have worked in practice. Let's examine how each of the seeding structures above have played out over the last few decades. People keep track of these things, and some of them actually get paid for it. Here is the record from 1985-2011 (we'll consider this year's event soon):
#5 against #12 67% 72-36
#7 against #10 60% 65-43
#8 against #9 47% 51-57
|[d] Rapt RF|
As much abuse as the NCAA tournament selection committee can get from fans and pundits, their record is pretty impressive here. Lower seeds beat higher seeds, and almost always more often the greater the disparity between seedings. It really is a thing of statistical beauty, and it really happened.
Still, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The "it" that happened was 108 games at each level between 1985 and 2011. What has your seed done for you lately, though? How did this year's games turn out? Did this year's tournament hold true to form?
|[e] Structured action RF|
It also held true to structural form in another sense. There were some upsets—large and small. If you looked carefully at the first round history of the tournament (above), you will know that a #2 seed loses a game every half-decade or so and both a #11 and #12 seed will win a game almost every single year. The #8s and #9s will split (with the slight advantage to the latter).
How did the events work out in 2012, now that the first round is in the history books? It isn't theory. The events (all thirty-two of those structured tussles) happened. "Upsets" are in bold.
#1 Kentucky defeated #16 Western Kentucky, 81-66
#1 Syracuse defeated #16 North Carolina-Asheville, 72-65
#1 Michigan State defeated #16 Long Island University, 89-67
#1 North Carolina defeated #16 Vermont, 77-58
#2 Kansas beat #15 Detroit, 65-50
#2 Ohio State defeated #15 Loyola Maryland 78-59
#15 Norfolk State defeated #2 Missouri, 86-84
#15 Lehigh defeated #2 Duke 75-70
#3 Marquette defeated #14 Brigham Young, 88-68
#3 Baylor defeated #14 South Dakota State, 68-60
#3 Florida State defeated #14 St. Bonaventure, 66-63
#3 Georgetown defeated #14 Belmont, 74-59
#4 Louisville defeated #13 Davidson, 69-62
#4 Indiana defeated #13 New Mexico State, 79-66
#13 Ohio University defeated #4 Michigan, 65-60
#5 New Mexico defeated #12 Long Beach State, 75-68
#5 Vanderbilt defeated #12 Harvard, 79-70
#12 Virginia Commonwealth defeated #5 Wichita State, 62-59
#12 South Florida defeated #5 Temple, 58-44
#6 Murray State defeated #11 Colorado State, 58-41
#6 Cincinnait defeated #11 Texas, 65-59
#11 North Carolina State defeated #6 San Diego State, 79-65
#11 Colorado defeated #6 University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 68-64
#7 Gonzaga defeated #10 West Virginia, 77-54
#7 Florida defeated #10 Virginia, 71-45
#10 Xavier defeated #7 Notre Dame, 67-63
#10 Purdue defeated #7 St. Mary's (Cal), 72-69
#8 Iowa State defeated #9 Connecticut, 77-64
#8 Kansas State defeated #9 Southern Mississippi, 70-64
#8 Creighton defeated #9 Alabama, 58-57
#9 Saint Louis defeated #8 Memphis, 61-54
|[f] Analysis RF|
|[g] Birth of an upset RF|
As embarrassing as it is today to be Duke or Missouri (#2 losers), nothing will compare to the rockets and flares of mockery that comes to the #1 that fails. And it will happen. The "happening" is history (to come). "Culture" will take care of the rest. We have all sorts of stories about things like that, and all sorts of places to tell them.
Enjoy the rest of the tournament, and think about structure and event, history and culture as you watch.