The No. 7 versus 10 matchups during March Madness often feature fading teams from power conferences against mid-majors that are on the rise.
This can be tough on the No. 7 seeds but often makes for good betting value.
The 32 Division I conferences all receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which is awarded to the winners of respective 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.
Because most of the higher seeds go to automatic qualifiers of major conferences, and many of the lower seeds go to automatic qualifiers of lower-tier conferences, the middle-of-the-road No. 7 and 10 seeds often go to at-large teams from major conferences or mid-majors.
Occasionally, No. 10 seeds are winners of a lower-tier conference tournament or a bubble team from a higher-profile conference that ends up receiving a bid.
March Madness 7 vs. 10 matchups this year
West – No. 10 VCU vs. No. 7 Oregon
Every year, a team gets placed down the list of seeding and poses as a great underdog candidate to make a tournament run. An extreme example was 2014, when No. 8 Kentucky met No. 7 UConn in the National Championship game. Oregon () could be an excellent choice this year to do some damage a few rounds later than they’re supposed to. However, they have to get through Atlantic 10 runner-up VCU in the first round.
Since Shaka Smart departed the program (a run in which No. 11 VCU made the Final Four in 2011), VCU has won just one tournament game in three appearances. It’s a tough first round matchup for the Rams and the Ducks feel counted out after seeing Payton Pritchard depart for the NBA. In his place is a dangerous duo in forward Eugene Omoruyi (16.7 points per game) and guard Chris Duarte (16.7 points per game). It’s also worth noting that Oregon has not lost in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament since 2008 (six appearances).
Catch this game on Saturday, March 20 at 9:57 p.m. ET on TNT.
South – No. 10 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Florida
Usually a powerhouse in basketball, the Florida Gators () fell flat in a down year for the SEC. The Gators struggled with Vanderbilt in the conference tournament before ultimately being sent home by Tennessee. They finished 14-9 this year, but still roster the type of talent needed to win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament. They take on Virginia Tech, a team that lost to a streaking UNC team in the ACC tourney.
Both of these teams are capable of making noise in the NCAA Tournament and the winner likely has a date with No. 2 Ohio State in the Round of 32. While this game could have been a high-scoring affair in years past, this matchup might see moderate pacing.
Florida and Virginia Tech kick off the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 19 – starting at 12:15 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on CBS.
East – No. 10 Maryland vs. No. 7 UConn
The last time the UConn Huskies () were a seven-seed in the NCAA Tournament, they ran the table under Shabazz Napier and won the National Final. Since then, they have graced the Big Dance just once – losing in the second round. To say 2014 isn’t on their mind would be foolish, but another championship run from the seven spot sounds unlikely for UConn. Their first-round matchup is against Maryland which, despite its record, had a competitive regular season that even included an upset over No. 3 Illinois.
Maryland endured a gauntlet of a Big Ten schedule this season and is well-seasoned for March Madness. If there’s one 10-over-7 upset that should be seriously considered, look no farther than Maryland vs. UConn.
This game tips off Saturday, March 20 at 7:10 p.m. ET and will be televised on CBS.
Midwest – No. 10 Rutgers vs. No. 7 Clemson
Clemson () was a one-and-done in the ACC Tournament, ultimately falling to champion Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals. Could this be a repeat of the ACC Tournament? Potentially, as Rutgers climbed as high as 11th in the AP Poll this season and managed to finish the year with a loss in the Big Ten quarterfinals to eventual-champion Illinois. Rutgers finished with a subpar scoring offense and a median scoring defense, but pulled off big wins over Illinois and Syracuse earlier in the season.
In an interesting field of 7s-vs-10s, Rutgers is a fine candidate to pull off a first-round upset over Clemson. While the Tigers’ defense has been outstanding (62 points allowed per game is 14th in the nation), their scoring offense is one of the lowest in the country (312th). One thing is for certain – this will be a close game and worthy of keeping an eye on.
Rutgers vs. Clemson tips off Friday, March 19 at 9:20 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on TBS.
Bracket and odds
What happened last time?
The coronavirus pandemic caused the shutdown of the 2020 NCAA tournament. In 2019, No. 7 seeds went 1-3 SU and ATS against No. 10 seeds with Wofford beating Seton Hall 84-68. Three No. 10 seeds won: Minnesota beat Louisville 86-76, Florida took out Nevada 70-61, and Iowa held off Temple 79-72. All four winners lost in the Round of 32 with Iowa taking No. 2 Tennessee to overtime before falling 83-77.
In 2018, No. 7 seeds went 3-1 SU and ATS against No. 10 seeds with all wins by 5 points or less including two in overtime. Butler, as a No. 10 seed, blew out Arkansas 79-62, but was eliminated in the round of 32.
Seven versus 10 seed matchups often make for thrilling finishes, as evidenced by Nevada’s memorable high-scoring overtime win over Texas in 2018.
History and trends since 2000
Despite No. 7 seeds going 1-3 SU/ATS in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, No. 7 seeds are still 20-12 SU and 18-13-1 ATS since 2012. However, note that in 2009 and 2019, No. 10 seeds were 3-1 SU both years. Going back further, since 2000 No. 7 seeds are 49-31 SU and 45-34-1 ATS against No. 10 seeds in the first round. The average margin of victory in those 80 games since 2000 is 9.56 points.
In total, No. 7 seeds hold an 85-55 record against 10 seeds since the NCAA Tournament field expanded in 1985.
The last No. 7 seed to close as an underdog was in 2015 when VSU (+3.5) lost to Ohio State but covered the point spread.
Upsets in the Nos. 7 and 10 matchups are not rare, but blowouts certainly are. In 2017, No. 7 seed South Carolina blew away No. 10 Marquette 93-73 on its way to the Final Four. In 2015, No. 7 Iowa throttled No. 10 Davidson 83-52. Most recently in 2019, Southern Conference champion Wofford walked over Seton Hall 84-68 as a 3-point favorite.
There has been only one tournament in the past 34 years in which No. 7 seeds were swept by 10 seeds (1999), according to NCAA.com. The current streak almost ended in 2010 but Brigham Young survived as the final No. 7 seed, edging Florida 99-92.
On the other side, there have only been two tournaments in which all four No. 7 seeds advanced: 1993 and 2007.
West Virginia has held the No. 7 seed more than any other program, with a 3-1 record in the opening round since the tournament expanded in 1985 – according to NCAA.com.
Creighton (which has the most appearances as a No. 10 seed with five) is winless as the lower seed, but 1-0 as a No. 7 seed.
The success of 7 and 10 seeds in March Madness
In 2014, UConn became the first and only No. 7 seed to win a nNational Championship. However, the Huskies needed overtime to get past No. 10 Saint Joseph’s in an 89-81 opening-round victory. UConn was also the first No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four, but Michigan State would follow in 2015 before losing in the national semifinals.
In 2017, No. 7 seed South Carolina advanced all the way the Final Four, falling to No. 1 Gonzaga 77-73 in the National Championship semi-finals. On their way to the Final Four, the Gamecocks notched upsets over No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Florida.
In 2016, Syracuse became the first No. 10 seed to reach the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 with its 68-62 victory against Virginia, according to NCAA.com. Syracuse fell to eventual runner-up North Carolina, 83-66, in the semifinal game.
Teams seeded at No. 10 have 23 Sweet 16 appearances, and eight of those teams have advanced to the Elite Eight.
The magical run of Stephen Curry’s No. 10 Davidson Wildcats that came in 2008 started with a 6-point win against No. 7 Gonzaga and became one of most memorable Cinderella stories in college basketball history.
Curry scored 40 points in the 82-76 win over the Bulldogs, and the Wildcats rode his hot hand until they lost to No. 1 Kansas in the Elite Eight.