In the 33-year history of the modern NCAA tournament, 15 seeds have only ever won eight games against their first-round matchup: the 2 seed. 

Since the 16 seed has never won a game, the 15 seed is the ultimate underdog, the most tantalizing upset pick with a real possibilty of happening. So, if you’re planning on picking one this year, who should you go with?

That’d be Iona over Duke.

Let’s be clear, this is far from a guarantee. We’re not telling you to pick Iona over Duke, but if you just have to have one 15-2 upset in your bracket, history tells us to lean towards the Gaels.

That’s based on one stat that has been a pretty good indicator of 15-2 upset potential: Experience level.


To compare teams’ experience level, we looked at teams’ rosters and pulled two stats: A player’s level of experience, and the percentage of their team’s total minutes that they played.

We then multiplied the percentage of minutes played by the experience modifier (one for freshman, two for sophomore, etc.). And that gave us our experience score.

(Full season stats weren’t available for all historical 15-2 upsets, so we used the minutes played in the NCAA tournament game instead).

Over the eight 15-2 upsets, 15 seeds had an average experience score of 3.08, while the 2-seeds scored 2.83. The greatest differential (0.69 points) came when 15-seed FGCU (2.86) beat 2-seed Georgetown (2.17) in 2013. And the second-highest differential? That would be Lehigh’s thrilling win over none other than Duke in 2012.

This year, the average experience score among the field of 68 is 2.65. 

But the outright title belongs to 15 seed Iona. The Gaels scored a 3.18, as they have three seniors averaging 24 minutes per game or more, and two juniors with at least 23 minutes per game.

RELATED: Every NCAA tournament 1st-round game picked

Duke is the second-least experienced team in the field, with a score of 1.67. Grayson Allen — the lone senior on the Blue Devils’ roster — averages the most minutes per game at 35.1. The next four highest players are all freshmen. Only two sophomores (Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier) crack the top 10, and Antonio Vrankovic — the only junior on the team — averages just 4.9 minutes per game.

If you’re looking for another potential upset based on this data, consider, 12-seed Davidson vs. 5-seed Kentucky. The Wildcats are the least experienced team in the entire tournament.

All five of the Wildcats’ players with the most minutes per game are freshmen. So are seven of the top 10, with the other three all being sophomores. Kentucky is the only team in the field of 68 without a single senior on the roster, and the two juniors on the team combine for just 1.6 minutes per game.

Here’s the full ranking of all 68 teams’ experience level:






































































Rank School Seed Experience score
1 Iona 15 3.177
2 Wichita State 4 3.168
3 Nevada 7 3.167
4 St. Bonaventure 11 3.160
5 Rhode Island 7 3.157
6 South Dakota State 12 3.135
7 New Mexico State 12 3.123
8 Purdue 2 3.110
9 Arkansas 7 3.100
10 Houston 6 3.042
11 Texas Southern 16 3.022
12 Seton Hall 8 3.004
13 Clemson 5 3.003
14 UMBC 16 2.944
15 North Carolina 2 2.922
16 Bucknell 14 2.882
17 TCU 6 2.870
18 Stephen F. Austin 14 2.853
19 Georgia State 15 2.852
20 Providence 10 2.841
21 Loyola Chicago 11 2.821
22 Murray State 12 2.809
23 Xavier 1 2.801
24 UNCG 13 2.795
25 Texas Tech 3 2.792
26 Virginia Tech 8 2.777
27 Florida 6 2.777
28 Ohio State 5 2.763
29 Penn 16 2.742
30 Kansas 1 2.735
31 Arizona State 11 2.724
32 Buffalo 13 2.716
33 Davidson 12 2.702
34 Montana 14 2.690
35 NC State 9 2.677
36 Missouri 8 2.674
37 Lipscomb 15 2.670
38 West Virginia 5 2.664
39 San Diego State 11 2.662
40 Creighton 8 2.651
41 Cincinnati 2 2.648
42 LIU-Brooklyn 16 2.643
43 Virginia 1 2.637
44 Michigan 3 2.628
45 Texas A&M 7 2.627
46 Radford 16 2.585
47 Butler 10 2.556
48 Charleston 13 2.552
49 Wright State 14 2.539
50 Florida State 9 2.516
51 Marshall 13 2.480
52 Gonzaga 4 2.478
53 NC Central 16 2.450
54 UCLA 11 2.450
55 Arizona 4 2.442
56 CSU Fullerton 15 2.389
57 Michigan State 3 2.352
58 Kansas State 9 2.332
59 Villanova 1 2.315
60 Tennessee 3 2.292
61 Auburn 4 2.238
62 Miami 6 2.163
63 Oklahoma 10 2.162
64 Syracuse 11 2.067
65 Texas 10 1.984
66 Alabama 9 1.891
67 Duke 2 1.673
68 Kentucky 5 1.213

Daniel Wilco has worked at the AJC, Sports Illustrated, and SEC Country. His writing has also appeared on SI.com, Men’s Health, and The Cauldron.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

Share.

About Author

Turner South Syndicate  is proud to publish SportsBuzzSource.com TSS is a group of common interest people coming together in the sports news world. Sports news has always been an evolving hobby of ours. We take pride in researching the latest breaking news and presenting stories to readers as a quick reference. Sources are from multiple outlets scoured by our highly enthused team of researchers. Presenting a navigational friendly website, we are dedicated to exhibit the latest stories in sports. Also, for mobile news check out our app, Sports Buzz Source, on Google Play Store. ​ Lastest app releases are Remind List+ and YoCelsi on iTunes. Remind List+ -- Record all your list in one place and get notifications on home screen. Check it out... ​ YoCelsi - Minimalist Weather and Local Sorm Conditions Social Browser - 3D iBrowser with integrated social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc...)

Comments are closed.