The 3 vs 14 matchups are often overlooked when you fill out March Madness picks and peruse NCAA tournament odds. But March Madness has seen 22 upsets in the No. 3 vs. No. 14 opening-round match-ups since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The most recent being Abilene Christian’s stunning takedown of Texas in 2021.
The betting lines are double-digits favoring the 3-seeds a vast majority of the time, and fans often know little about the 14-seeded teams from smaller conferences that very rarely appear on the widely available TV networks. But the 3 vs 14 seed matchups are worth paying close attention to when betting on the NCAA tournament.
3 vs 14
Here are the 3 vs. 14 seed matchups and for the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament along with the spreads for each game.
Xavier vs Kennesaw State
Xavier opened as -11.5 favorite over Kennesaw State. Things got quite hairy for the Musketeers as they faced a double-digit second-half deficit, but an insanely strong closing stretch saw them secure a 72-67 win but no cover.
Baylor vs UCSB
The Baylor Bears opened as a -10.5 favorite over the UCSB Gauchos. Baylor trailed by one at half but turned things around big time for a 74-56 win and cover.
Gonzaga vs. Grand Canyon
Gonzaga opened as a -15.5 favorite over Grand Canyon. The over/under for the game was 156.5.
Kansas State vs. Montana State
Kansas State opened -8.5 favorite over Montana State with an over/under of 138.5.
Bracket and odds
View our interactive NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket with live odds, including the 3 vs. 14 matchups.
3 vs 14 history
A year after Abilene Christian pulled off the stunner a 1-point victory over 3-seeded Texas, all four 3 seeds won in 2022. All the 3 seeds won ATS as well, with the exception of Wisconsin, as Colgate covered the spread by 1.5 points. Here are the 3 vs 14 seed results from last year:
- 3 seed — Wisconsin 67, 14 seed — Colgate 60
- 3 seed — Texas Tech 97, 14 seed — Montana State 62
- 3 seed — Purdue 78, 14 seed — Yale 56
- 3 seed — Tennessee 88, 14 seed — Longwood 56
The furthest a 3 seed got in 2022 was the Sweet Sixteen. In that round, Texas Tech lost to 2-seed Duke, while Purdue lost to 15-seed St. Peter’s.
Arkansas had the best run for a 3 seed in 2021, making it all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to eventual National Champion Baylor. Abilene Christian could not pull off a second straight miracle as it fell to 11-seed UCLA in the second round.
The coronavirus pandemic caused the shutdown of the 2020 NCAA tournament. In the 2019 tournament, No. 3 seeds went 4-0 with American Athletic Conference champion Houston (-12) rolling over Sun Belt champ Georgia State, 84-55. Big Ten co-regular season champion Purdue (-12.5) squeezed out a cover over Conference USA champion Old Dominion 61-48, while co-Big 12 regular season champion Texas Tech (-13) shut down Horizon League champion Northern Kentucky, 72-57. SEC regular season champion LSU (-6.5) had their hands full with Ivy League champ Yale, but the Volunteers held of for a 79-74 win to make it 3-1 ATS for No. 3 seeds in the opening round.
All four No. 3 seed winners won their next game to advance to the Sweet 16. Texas Tech and Purdue (in OT) advanced to the Elite Eight, where Texas Tech knocked off No. 1 Gonzaga, 75-69 to advance to the Final Four. Purdue played another overtime game, but came up short to Virginia, 80-75. Boilermakers senior guard Carsen Edwards exploded for 42 points that included 10 made 3-pointers in a performance of the ages in the craziest game of the NCAA Tournament.
Texas Tech won it’s national championship semi-final game 61-51 over Michigan State before falling to Virginia in overtime, 85-77 in the National Championship game.
A 14 seed has beaten a 3 seed 22 times since 1985. The total record of 3 vs 14 seeds since that year is 126-22. No. 3 vs. No. 14 match-ups have seen the 3-seed go 79-9 since 2000. That includes a run of 23-0 from 2000-2004. There was recently a five-year gap between 14 over 3 seed upsets, but Abilene Christian broke the drought last year with its victory over Texas.
Prior to 2000, there was at least one upset by a No. 14 seed over a No. 3 seed in 11 of the 15 years since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Since 1985, only one of those games went to overtime. It was Old Dominion’s triple OT win over Villanova in 1995.
The largest margins of victory by a 14-seed came with Ohio (+13.5) beating Georgetown 97-83 in 2005 and Stephen F. Austin (+6.5) mashing the West Virginia Mountaineers 70-56 in 2016. The Lumberjacks just missed advancing to the Sweet Sixteen with a 1-point loss to Notre Dame in the round of 32.
Who usually gets placed in the 3 vs. 14 game?
Smaller conference tournament champions are often 14 seeds, as these are the teams that secured the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Top teams and leading contenders from major power conferences are usually selected as 3 seeds, and sometimes the dominant, top teams from non-power conferences like Houston from the American Athletic in 2019.
March Madness 3 vs 14 upsets
Since 1985, the No. 14 seed has shocked the No. 3 seed 22 times in March Madness history.
|2021||Abilene Christian def. Texas||53-52|
|2016||Stephen F. Austin def. West Virginia||70-56|
|2015||Georgia State def. Baylor||57-56|
|2015||UAB def. Iowa State||60-59|
|2014||Mercer def. Duke||78-71|
|2013||Harvard def. New Mexico||68-62|
|2010||Ohio def. Georgetown||97-83|
|2006||Northwestern State def. Iowa||64-63|
|2005||Bucknell def. Kansas||64-63|
|1999||Weber State def. North Carolina||76-74|
|1998||Richmond def. South Carolina||62-61|
|1997||Chattanooga def. Georgia||73-70|
|1995||Weber State def. Michigan State||79-72|
|1995||Old Dominion def. Villanova||89-81|
|1992||ETSU def. Arizona||87-80|
|1991||Xavier def. Nebraska||89-84|
|1990||Northern Iowa def. Missouri||74-71|
|1989||Siena def. Stanford||80-78|
|1988||Murray State def. NC State||78-75|
|1987||Austin Peay def. Illinois||68-67|
|1986||Arkansas Little-Rock def. Notre Dame||90-83|
|1986||Cleveland State def. Indiana||83-79|
Success of 3 and 14 seeds in March Madness
While there have been 22 upsets by the 14-seeds in opening round NCAA Tournament action, just two of those teams won their next game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. The last 14-seed opening round winner to advance to the Sweet Sixteen was in 1997. Still, the upsets are always big ones as most 14 seeds enter the games as double-digit underdogs.
In 2005, Kansas (-14) was upset by Bucknell 64-63. The following year in 2006, Northwestern State from the Southland Conference upset Iowa by the same score, 64-63. In 2010, Ohio upset Georgetown (-13.5) nearly hitting the century mark in a 97-83 win.
The upsets really starting coming since 2013 with at least one every year through 2016. Harvard’s 68-62 win over New Mexico in 2013 was followed by two 1-point upsets in 2014, Georgia State 57-56 over Baylor and UAB 60-59 over Iowa State. Then Stephen F. Austin shocked West Virginia 70-56 in 2016.
In the 1985 tournament, Kansas and Ohio set a low-scoring record in the Jayhawks 49-38 win.
No. 3 seeds have played in the National Championship game 11 times including Michigan in 2018 and Texas Tech in 2019. No. 3 seeds have won the National Title four times – UConn (2011), Florida (2006), Syracuse (2003) and Michigan (1989).
The greatest performances in the same tournament by No. 3 seeds came in 1989 when both Michigan and Seton Hall made the Final Four and advanced to the National Championship game. Michigan won a thriller over Big Ten champ and No. 1 seed Illinois 83-81 in the national semifinals, and Seton Hall outshot No. 2 seed Duke 95-78. That set up one of the most exciting championship games ever as Michigan won in overtime, 80-79, with Glen Rice scoring 34 points with 11 rebounds.