Bama Hoops Hype

History of the 9 Seed

Photo by Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

Alabama managed to secure a spot for itself in the big dance for the first time since 2012.  Like its last appearance, Avery Johnson’s men will find themselves as a 9 seed in the tournament.  While the Crimson Tide will be looking to carve their own path in this tournament, it is important to look back at the history of the seed and see what those that have come before have accomplished.

In the past 33 years, 65 out of 132 teams seeded 9th have won their first game, which sees this first matchup being more or less a coin flip for all of the bracketologists out there. It’s a bit of a stretch to call any of these matchups upsets, but the 8 seeds to hold a slight advantage in the series.  But the real trouble for these teams always lies in the largely uphill battle they face in the second-round.

A 16 seed has yet to upset the No. 1 seed, which means even for those 9 seeds that survive their first-round draw, their biggest test always waits right around the corner.

Since 1985, only five 9 seeds have managed back-to-back upsets to knock-off one of the top-ranked teams in the tournament. Those teams: UTEP (1992), Boston College, (1994), UAB (2004), Northern Iowa (2010), and Wichita State (2013) demonstrate just how difficult this feat is.

Of the five teams that made it past the top seed, only two have continued those runs as deep as the Elite Eight, Wichita State in 2013 and Boston College in 1994.  Wichita State remains the only 9 seed since the 64-team bracket was set up in 1985 to make it to the Final Four.

Though not to a 9 seed, Villanova was the last top-seeded team to fall in the second round when in 2011, they collapsed against Wisconsin. The Badgers that year went on to lose in the Sweet 16 to No. 4 seed Florida. Should history repeat itself, the Wildcats would be Alabama’s second-round matchup should the Tide make it past the Hokies in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

The No. 9 seed has a 49.2% chance of advancing to the second round, but only a 3.8% chance of reaching the Sweet 16 according to stats by  The Crimson Tide have a history of making splashes when given lower seeds in the tournament but will have to be something approaching their best in order to defy those kinds of numbers.

If John Petty can find his shot, and Sexton can stay on top, the return of Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens could make for a very interesting run in the year’s tournament.

Johnathan Anderson covers Alabama Basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter.

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