March Madness has made like Baka Not Nice and lived up to its name.For a variety of reasons, both statistical and anecdotal, the 2018 version of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament may be the craziest installment yet.To begin, we saw the very first 16-over-1 upset in the history of the mens tournament, as UMBC shocked the early tournament favorites Virginia in the first round. Not only did they shock themthey left them in awe, blowing them out 74-54. It has immediately gone down as the biggest upset ever in college basketball, and one of the greatest upsets in sports history period.That alone would have been enough to make the early stages of the tournament by definition crazy, but UMBC hasnt been the only team to shock the system.No. 11 Loyola Chicago has advanced to the Sweet 16, along with Syracuse, who actually played in the First Four just to get into the tournament.FiveThirtyEight illustrated how unusual this tournament has actually been:
Glance at the seed numbers of the teams left standing, and youll notice an odd mix. Only two No.1 seeds survived the tournaments first weekend the fewest since 2004 and as many teams seeded seventh or worse (six) advanced as teams seeded in the top three of their regions.
Including both the Rounds of 64 and 32, games won by lower-seeded teams this year have come by an average of 10.6 points, only the second time in the 64-team era that the average upset at this stage of the tournament came by a margin of 10.5 points or more. The other was in 2000, when underdogs won their games by an average of 10.9 points per game but that years first two rounds only saw 11 total upsets, by teams with an average seed number of 7.9. This years tourney has featured 15 upsets by teams with an average seed of 10.1, which makes this collection of underdog landslides even more impressive.If there is a bracket out there left unbusted, we havent heard of one. You would have had the same probability of picking this Sweet 16 field as an octopus poking colored boxes or a toddler throwing sticky team logos at a wall.