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NCAA Tournament upset trends: Which seed pairing is most likely to produce a 1st-round upset?

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Every NCAA Tournament sees top seeds fall, but some March Madness seed pairings have historically produced more upsets than others.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last six years, No. 8 seeds have fared well against No. 9 seeds with a 17-7 straight up and 15-9 against the spread record in 24 matchups, according to the data at OddsShark.com. This year's No. 8 seeds will be among the high seeds trying to avoid upsets in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

The Connecticut Huskies are the biggest favorite among the No. 8 seeds this year, going off as a 4-point betting favorite over the California Golden Bears at the sportsbooks. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that in the most evenly matched games on the bracket, the most upsets have been produced over the last 20 seasons.

In those 80 games between No. 8 seeds and No. 9 seeds, the latter have pulled off 35 wins for a 35-45 SU record.

Not far behind in first-round upsets are the next closest matchups, the No. 10 seeds facing off against the No. 7 seeds. Over the last 20 years, No. 10 seeds have gone 34-46 SU in 80 games against No. 7 seeds.

Recent seasons have seen the tide shift in favor of the higher seeds as No. 7 seeds have gone 8-4 SU and 8-3-1 ATS over the last three years. In the four years prior to that, No. 10 seeds were 9-7 SU and 11-5 ATS in these games.

Perhaps the most interesting and well-known source of upsets in March Madness is the No. 12 seed over the No. 5 seed. Only once in the last 15 tournaments have all four No. 5 seeds won, and in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments there have been three outright upsets by No. 12 seeds.

While the success of No. 9 seeds and No. 10 seeds can likely just be attributed to those being evenly matched games, there seems to be a psychological element to these games as both the No. 5 and No. 12 seeds know the history of this matchup.

No. 12 seeds have produced 32 outright upsets over No. 5 seeds over the last 20 seasons. In the last seven seasons, No. 12 seeds are 15-13 SU and 18-9-1 ATS against 5-seeds, per the OddsShark College Basketball Database.

In the last 20 NCAA Tournaments, No. 11 seeds have 29 outright wins in the first round. There is a sharp drop off from there as No. 13 seeds have 16, No. 14 seeds have 10, No. 15 seeds have five and No. 16 seeds have zero.