It's finally time for the NCAA tournament. Over the next few days, you will blow off work, constantly check your brackets, find good streaming options, and hope to win money and bragging rights. Upsets and people complaining about their brackets are the only constant of the NCAA tournament, so we've analyzed every upset in the NCAA tournament since 2001 to help predict when they will occur. This guide should show, based on past tournaments, what to look for when you pick first round upsets.

# Methodology

We've taken all 140 teams that have upset a team in the NCAA tournament since 2001 and have organized their ranking in 15 stat categories. I took their ranking from the 351 D1 NCAA teams and converted it into a percentile. 50 percentile is average at a category and 99 percentile is in the top 3 at a category. The stat categories are: Three Pointers Attempted per game, Field Goal percentage, 3 point percentage, Free Throws attempted per game, Free Throw percentage, Assist percentage, Defensive field goal percentage, defensive 3 point percentage, blocks per game, steals per game, rebounding margin, offensive rebounding percentage, defensive rebounding percentage, fouls per game, and turnovers per game. I then organized these teams by seed and pace of play, and "unexpected wins." An unexpected win is an advancement in the tournament that should not happen based on seeding. For example, every game that a 10 seed or lower wins is an unexpected win. A 7 seed will only have unexpected wins after it advances past its potential matchup with a 2 seed.

# 10 seeds

21of the 68 10-seeds have pulled off a first round upset since the 2001 tournament. 11 of these teams have multiple unexpected wins: 8 with 2 wins and 3 with 3 wins. These 21 teams break down very evenly based on pace. 8 play at a slower pace in the bottom 35th percentile, 6 teams play at an average pace in the 40th to 67th percentile, and 7 play at a faster pace in the 74th -99th percentiles.

## Overall 10 seed strengths

If you are thinking about having a 10 seed upset a 7 seed in the first round, these are the key strengths that the 10 seed should:

**Limit turnovers**- 15 of the 21 teams have been in the top 70 percentile or above in turnovers per game.**Have an efficient offense**- 15 of the 21 teams have been in the top 70 percentile or above in overall field goal percentage.**Rim Protection**- 14 of the 21 teams have been in the top 70 percentile or above in blocks pre game.**Rebounding**: 13 of the 21 teams have been in the top 70 percentile or above in rebounding margin and 12 of the 21 teams have been in the top 70 percentile or above in offensive rebounding percentage.**Have a player who can consistently generate free throws**: 12 of the 21 teams have at least one player who averages 5 or more free throws per game.**Have a player who consistently grab offensive rebounds**: 15 of the 21 teams have at least one player who averages over 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.

## Slower paced 10 seeds

These 8 teams have a few common strengths. They take care of the ball, have efficient offenses, have good ball movement , shoot a lot of 3's , and they are foul averse.

**Ball Security**: 6 teams in the top 70 percentile or above turnovers per game**Efficient Offense**: 4 teams in the top 70 percentile or above in field goal percentage**Ball Movement**: 4 teams in the top 70 percentile or above in assists percentage**Three Pointers Attempted**: 5 teams in the top 70 percentile or above 3 pointers attempted per game**Fouls Per Game**: 4 teams in the top 70 percentile or above fouls per game

They have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds and consistently generate free throws.

**Free Throw Generator:**6 of the 8 teams have at least one player who averages 5 free throw attempts per game**Offensive Rebounder**: 5 of the 8 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.

## Average paced 10 seeds

These 6 teams are extremely similar. They tend have efficient overall offenses that rarely turn the ball over. They are strong rebounders and good shot blockers. They tend to have good defenses as well.

**Efficient Offense:**All 6 teams are in the top 70th percentile or better in field goal percentage**Ball Security**: All 6 teams are in the top 70th percentile or better in turnovers per game.**Rebounding**: 5 of the 6 teams are in the top 70th percentile or above in rebound margin and defensive rebounding percentage. 4 of the 6 are in the top 70th percentile or above in offensive rebound percentage.**Shot Blocking**: 4 of the 6 teams are in the 70th percentile or above in blocks per game.

They tend to have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds, and consistently generate free throws, and block shots.

**Free Throw Generator:**3 of the 6 teams have at least one player who averages 5 free throw attempts per game**Offensive Rebounder**: 5 of the 6 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Shot Blocker:**4 of the 6 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2 blocks per game.

## Fast paced 10 seeds

These 7 teams play fast and focus on defense. They are defensive playmakers who block shots and steal the ball. They usually have good ball movement.

**Strong Defense:**6 of these 7 teams are in the 70th percentile or above in defensive field goal percentage and 4 of the 7 teams are in the 70th percentile or above in 3 point percentage defense.**Blocks and Steals:**6 of these 7 teams are in the 70th percentile or above in blocks per game. 6 of these 7 teams are in the 70th percentile or above in steals per game**Ball movement:**4 of the 7 teams are in the 70th percentile or above in assist percentage

They tend to have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds, and consistently generate free throws, and steal the ball.

**Free Throw Generator:**3 of the 7 teams have at least one player who averages 5 free throw attempts per game**Offensive Rebounder**: 4 of the 7 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Steals:**5 of the 7 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2 steals per game.

# 11 seeds

30 of the 68 11-seeds have upset a 6 seed since 2001. This is the most likely upset. 10 of the past 12 11-seeds have won. 11 11-seeds have multiple wins. 6 have 2 unexpected wins, 3 have 3 unexpected wins, and 3 have 4 unexpected wins. These are the teams that destroy a section of your bracket. They break evenly into 4 pace-based groups. 8 teams play at a slow pace at or below the 25th percentile, 8 play at a below average pace between the 25th and 40th percentiles, 8 play at an average pace between the 41st and 65th percentiles, and 6 teams play at a very fast pace at the 81st percentile and above.

### Overall 11 seed strenghts

Winning 11 seeds typically have some combination of the following strengths:

**Rebounding**: 21 of the 30 teams have a rebounding margin in the top 70 percentile or above. 23 of the 30 teams have an offensive rebounding percentage in the top 70 percentile or above.**Ball movement**: 20 of the 30 teams have an assist percentage in the top 70 percentile or above.**Efficient offense**: 20 of the 30 teams have a field goal percentage in the top 70 percentile or above.**Strong defense**: 19 of the 30 teams have a defensive field goal percentage in the top 70 percentile or above.**Limiting turnovers**: 18 of the 30 teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in turnovers per game.**Have a player who can generate FT's**: 25 of the 30 teams have at least one player who averages 5 or more free throws per game**Have a player who can get ORB's**: 25 of the 30 teams have at least one player who averages 2.5 or more offensive rebounds per game**Have a volume 3 point shooter**: 18 of the 30 teams have at least one player who averages 6 or more three point attempts per game.

### Slow 11 Seeds

The slower teams tend to rely on defense, rebounding, limiting fouls, and ball movement.

**Defense**: All eight teams rank in the top 70 percentile or above in defensive FG%.- Ball security: Seven of the eight teams rank in the the top 70 percentile or above in Turnovers per game
**Rebounding**: six of the eight teams rank in the top 70 percentile or above in rebounding margin, and six rank in the top 70 percentile or above in offensive rebounding percentage.**Ball movement**: four of the eight teams rank in the top 70 percentile or better in assist percentage.

They have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds, consistently generate free throws, and attempt a high number of three pointers per game.

**Offensive rebounding**: six of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game**Free throw attempts**: six of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: four of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

### Below average paced 11 seeds

These teams are the typical upset teams that keep making three's and slowly add more to their lead the score. They win in a shootout. They have good ball movement, are great 3-point shooters, and don't turn the ball over often.

**Ball movement**: six of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in assist percentage.**Offensive efficiency**: six of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above overall field goal percentage; six of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in 3 point percentage.**Ball security**: four of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in ball security.

They have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds, consistently generate free throws, and attempt a high number of three pointers per game.

**Offensive rebounding**: seven of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Free throw attempts**: seven of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: five of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

### Average paced 11 seeds

These eight teams are typically great rebounding (especially offensive rebounding) teams who have an efficient offense, move the ball well, and who get steals and blocks without fouling.

**Rebounding:**six of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in rebounding margin and seven of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in offensive rebounding percentage.**Efficient Offense: six**of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in**Ball movement: five**of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in**SPG/BPG****without fouling:**five of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in fouls per game; five of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in Blocks per game; four of the eight teams are in the top 70 percentile or above in Steals per game.

They have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds, consistently generate free throws, and attempt a high number of three pointers per game.

**Offensive rebounding**: seven of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Free throw attempts**: six of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: five of the eight teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

### Fast paced 11 seeds

These six teams don't fit the stereotype of a run and gun three point shooting team. They are almost identical statistically. They share the ball, have an efficient overall offense, generate free throws, rebound, and force steals.

**Ball movement:**five of the six teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in assist percentage.**Efficient offense:**five of the six teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in overall field goal percentage.**Free Throws:**five of the six teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in free throw attempts per game.**Rebounding:**five of the six teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in rebounding margin. Five of the six teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in offensive rebounding percentage.**Steals:**four of the six teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in steals per game.

**Free throw attempts**: All six teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Offensive Rebounding**: five of the six teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: four of the six teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

# 12 seeds

This is the second most likely upset to occur. Since the 2001 tournament, 28 of the 68 12-seeded teams have won in the first round. 8 of the 28 have won two games and 1 has won 3 games. No twelve seed in that time frame has won more than 3 games. The 12-seeds don't break evenly into paced groups like the 10 and 11 seeds do. 12-seeded teams that win tend to play slower. 15 of the 28 teams play at a slow 32nd percentile pace or below. 8 of the 28 teams play at averaged pace between the 42nd and 63rd percentiles. 5 of the 28 teams play at a fast pace at the 70th percentile or above.

## Overall 12 seed strengths:

**Efficient overall offense:**19 of the 28 teams have an overall field goal percentage in the top 70 percentile or higher.**Ball movement:**17 of the 28 teams have are the top 70 percentile or higher in assist percentage.**Rebounding:**18 of the 28 teams have are the top 70 percentile or higher in rebounding margin.**Good 3-point shooting:**16 of the 28 teams have are the top 70 percentile or higher in 3 point percentage.**Strong Defense:**15 of the 28 teams have are the top 70 percentile or higher in defensive field goal percentage.**Ball Security:**18 of the 28 teams have are the top 70 percentile or higher in turnovers per game.**High Volume 3 point shooter:**17 of the 28 teams have at least one player who attempts 6 or more 3 pointers per game.**Free throw generator:**17 of the 28 teams have at least one player who attempts 5 free throws per game.

## Slow paced 12 seeds

These 15 teams have a some very common traits. They are typically efficient offenses that move the ball well and are capable 3 point shooters. They rarely foul or turn the ball over. They focus on 3 point defense, but usually have a good overall defense. They are usually good rebounders as well. Here is where they most commonly excel.

**Efficient offense:**11 of the 15 teams have an overall field goal percentage in the top 70 percentile or higher.**Ball movement:**11**Ball Security: 11**of the 15 teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in turnovers per game.**Defend without Fouling: 11**of the 15 teams are in the top 70 percentile or higher in fouls per game**3 Point defense:**10 of the 15 teams have an 3 point defensive field goal percentage in the top 70 percentile or higher.

They have players who can consistently generate free throws and attempt a high number of three pointers per game.

**High Volume 3 point shooter:**7 of the 15 teams have at least one player who attempts 6 or more 3 pointers per game.**Free throw generator:**7 of the 15 teams have at least one player who attempts 5 free throws per game.

## Average Paced 12 seeds

These 8 teams are built around shot blocking and ball movement leading to efficient offense who takes care of the basketball.

**Shot Blocking:**6 of the 8 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in blocks per game.**Ball movement:**5 of the 8 teams in the top 70 percentile or higher in assist percentage.**Efficient offense:**4 of the 8 teams are**Ball security:**6 of the 8 teams

## Fast Paced 12 Seeds

These five teams focus on rebounding, steals, efficient offense, and 3-point defense.

**Rebounding:**4 of the 5 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in rebounding margin.**Steals:**3**Efficient offense:**3 of the 5 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in overall field goal percentage.**3-point defense:**3 of the 5 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in 3-point defensive percentage.

**Free throw attempts**: 4 of the 5 teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Offensive Rebounding**: 3 of the 5 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: 3 of the 5 teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

# 13 seeds

Since the 2001 NCAA tournament, there have been 14 13-seeded teams that have won at least one game. 3 of these teams won 2 games. Like the 12 seeds, the winning 13 seeds tend to skew to slower paced teams. 7 of the teams played at a slow pace 35th percentile pace or below. 4 of the teams play at a close to average pace between the 46th and 58th percentiles. 3 of the teams play at a faster pace between the 72nd and 79th percentiles.

## Overall 13 seed strenghts

**Three Point Defense:**10 of the 14 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in three point defensive field goal percentage.**Steals:**10 of the 14 teams rank in the top 80 percentile or higher in blocks per game.**Ball movement:**8 of the 14 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in assist percentage.**Free throw generator:**9 of the 14 teams have at least one player who attempts at least 5 free throws per game.-
**Offensive Rebounder:**10 of the 14 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.

### Slow 13 seeds

These teams have great defenses and rarely turn the ball over.

**Defense**: 4 of the 7 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in defensive field goal percentage.**3pt-Defense**: 5 of the 7 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in three point defensive field goal percentage.**Ball security**: 5 of the 7 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in turnovers per game.

**Free throw attempts**: 6 of the 7 teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Offensive Rebounding**: 5 of the 7 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: 4 of the 7 teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

## Average paced 13 seeds

These 4 teams were great defensively and were able to force steals without fouling. They had great ball movement that lead to efficient offense.

**Defense**: 3 of the 4 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in defensive field goal percentage.**3pt-Defense**: 3 of the 4 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in three point defensive field goal percentage.**Steals:**3**Efficient offense:**3 of the 4 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in overall field goal percentage.**Ball movement:**3 of the 4 teams in the top 70 percentile or higher in assist percentage.**Good 3-point shooting:**3 of the 4 teams have are the top 70 percentile or higher in 3 point percentage.

They have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds and attempt a high number of three pointers per game.

**Offensive Rebounding**: 3 of the 4 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Volume 3-point shooter**: 3 of the 4 teams have at least one player who averages at least 6 three point attempts per game.

## Fast Paced 13 seeds

These three teams relied on steals. They had an efficient offense due to points off turnovers and had strong overall defenses.

**Defense**: 2 of the 3 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in defensive field goal percentage.**3pt-Defense**: 2 of the 3 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in three point defensive field goal percentage.**Steals:****Efficient offense:**2 of the 3 teams rank in the top 70 percentile or higher in overall field goal percentage.

They have players who can consistently grab offensive rebounds, consistently generate free throws, and steal the ball.

**Free throw attempts**: 2 of the 3 teams have at least one player who averages at least 5 free throw attempts per game.**Offensive Rebounding**: 2 of the 3 teams have at least one player who averages at least 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.**Steals:**All three teams have at least one player who averages at least 2 steals per game.

# 14 and 15 seeds

Only 13 of these teams have won a game since the 2001 tournament. One 15-seeded team (Florida Gulf Coast) has won two games. I don't think these happen frequently enough to establish any trends. The 15 seeds tended to play at extremely fast paces, but the 14 seeds were more evenly distributed. The only consistent trend among these upsets is that they tend to have a defensive play maker. 10 of these teams have a player who averages either 2 or more steals or a player who averages 2 or more blocks.

# Summary

The biggest factor in determining what team strengths to focus on is pace of play and seed. Teams can have individual players that make up for any weakness. Having players who can generate free throws and consistently get offensive rebounds (or deny them) can overcome most talent gaps. If a player is a volume 3 point shooter, his shots won't disrupt the offense and he could get hot and change the game. Later today, I will make a similar post about the 54 teams that won 2 or more unexpected wins. If you enjoyed this or found it helpful, please take this two minute survey.