Because of recent history, picking No. 11s for upset wins in the first round might be a popular play for this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Who can forget 11th-seeded Loyola Chicago’s run to the Final Four last season?
And it’s not just Sister Jean’s team that is getting in on the upset action. Over the past three years, No. 11 seeds are 8-4 against No. 6 seeds.
According to NCAA.com, there have been 51 No. 11 seeds that have defeated No. 6 seeds (37.5 percent) since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 in 1985.
Who usually gets placed in the 6 vs. 11 game?
The 32 Division I conferences all receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which is awarded to the winners of the postseason conference tournaments.
After that, the selection committee picks 36 teams for at-large bids. These are teams that are not automatic qualifiers but that the committee believes possess the skill and pedigree to be worthy of an invitation, according to NCAA.com.
No. 11 seeds are often winners of a lower-tier conference tournament or a bubble team from a higher-profile conference that ends up receiving a bid.
No. 6 seeds are typically at-large teams from major conferences or mid-majors who won their conference regular season and tournament titles.
What happened last year?
Last year, No. 6 and No. 11 seeds split their games for an even 2-2 record.
Loyola-Chicago defeated Miami 64-62 on Donte Ingram’s dramatic 3-point buzzer-beater that launched the Ramblers on their improbable run to the Final Four.
No. 11 seed Syracuse beat No. 6 seed TCU 57-52.
No. 6 Florida topped No. 11 St. Bonaventure 77-62, and No. 6 Houston edged No. 11 San Diego State 67-65.
In 2018, No. 11 seeds went 2-2 straight up and 3-1 against the spread. Only Florida won and covered the spread as a No. 6 seed.
March Madness 6 vs. 11 matchups this year
Check back on Selection Sunday (March 15) when we’ll break down each of the 6 vs. 11 matchups on the 2020 bracket.
History since 2000
Since 2000, No. 6 seeds are 43-33 against No. 11 seeds in the round of 64. The average margin of victory in those 76 games since 2000 is 9.35 points.
In 2000, Pepperdine blew out Indiana 77-57 in Bobby Knight’s last game as the Hoosiers’ coach. It was the largest 11-over-6 margin ever.
Aside from Loyola-Chicago’s thrilling victory over Miami last year, perhaps the most memorable 6-vs.-11 game in recent years was the Northern Iowa-Texas matchup in 2017. Paul Jesperson’s half-court-heave at the buzzer lifted the Panthers over the Longhorns, 75-72.
In the past nine years, No. 11 seeds are 20-16 against No. 6 seeds. In the last six years, No. 11 seeds are 13-11 straight up and 15-9 against the spread in games against No. 6 seeds.
Xavier has been involved in the 6-vs.-11 game nine times — five times as the No. 6 and four times as the No. 11. Xavier won its first game as the No. 11 seed in 2017, and has a 3-2 record as a sixth-seed.
In total, No. 6 seeds hold an 85-51 record against No. 11 seeds since the NCAA Tournament field expanded in 1985.
Since 1985, the average margin of victory is about three points for the No. 6 seed, and about 60 percent of the 6-vs.-11 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer, according to NCAA.com.
The sixth-seeded teams also have swept the opening round just five times since the tournament moved to the 64-team format (1987, 1992, 1997, 1999 and 2004).
The success of 6 and 11 seeds
Three No. 6 seeds have made the Final Four since 1985: Providence in 1987, Kansas in 1988 and Michigan in 1992.
No. 6 seeds are 1-1 in the national championship game, with Danny Manning-led Kansas defeating Oklahoma in 1988, and the Fab Five of Michigan falling to Duke in 1992.
Four No. 11 seeds have reached the Final Four:
- 2018: Loyola-Chicago
- 2011: VCU
- 2006: George Mason
- 1986: LSU
None of them advanced to the national title game. Those teams mark the lowest seeds ever to reach the Final Four.
Seven No. 11 seeds have made it to the Elite Eight, and more than half of the No. 11 seeds who win in the first round have advanced to the Sweet 16.