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April 8, 2010
This season's NCAA tournament was memorable, and not just because of the superb title game.
Going by what we will call the "Upset Quotient," the 2010 tournament was the fourth-most unpredictable since the NCAA began seeding the field in 1979.
How do we determine the "Upset Quotient"? Here are the details:
The NCAA defines a tournament upset as when the winner of a game was seeded at least five spots worse than the team it defeated, no matter the round.
This season, there were nine such games: No. 14 Ohio over No. 3 Georgetown, No. 13 Murray State over No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 12 Cornell over No. 5 Temple, No. 11 Washington over No. 6 Marquette, No. 11 Old Dominion over No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 9 Northern Iowa over No. 1 Kansas, No. 12 Cornell over No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 11 Washington over No. 3 New Mexico and No. 10 Saint Mary's over No. 2 Villanova.
The nine upsets are tied for the sixth-most in the seeding era. The most (12) came in 1986.
SWEET 16 SEEDS
In its official tournament record book, the NCAA adds the total of the seeds of the teams that made it to the Sweet 16. This season, the total was 80: No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 West Virginia, No. 11 Washington and No. 12 Cornell in the East; No. 1 Duke, No. 3 Baylor, No. 4 Purdue and No. 10 Saint Mary's in the South; No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 9 Northern Iowa in the Midwest; and No. 1 Syracuse, No. 2 Kansas State, No. 5 Butler and No. 6 Xavier in the West.
That adds up to 26 in the East, 18 in the South, 22 in the Midwest and 14 in the West, for a total of 80. That's the sixth-highest total in the seeding era.
The highest was in 1986, when the total was 89.
FINAL FOUR SEEDS
In its official tournament record book, the NCAA also adds the total of the seeds of the teams in the Final Four.
This season, the total was 13 - No. 2 West Virginia from the East, No. 1 Duke from the South, No. 5 Michigan State from the Midwest and No. 5 Butler from the West.
That's tied for the sixth-highest total in the seeding era. The record is 22 in 2000, when two No. 8 seeds made it to the Final Four.
THE TOTAL 'UPSET QUOTIENT'
The NCAA doesn't have an official "Quotient," but using the basics of their math - i.e., adding up the categories - this season's tourney had a quotient of 18, which is fourth in the seeding era.
The most unpredictable tourney, by far, was in 1989. It had the highest upset total, the highest seed total in the Sweet 16 and the fourth-highest seed total in the Final Four, giving it an "Upset Quotient" of six.
The 1990 tourney (15) is second, followed by the 1985 tourney (17) and 2010 tourney (18).
The 1990 tourney, which was won by UNLV, had the fifth-most upsets (10), tied for the second-highest total of Sweet 16 seeds (88) and tied for the eighth-highest total of Final Four seeds (12).
The '85 tourney, which was won by perhaps the most improbable champion of all in Villanova, was tied for second in upsets (11), had the seventh-highest total of Sweet 16 seeds (78) and tied for the eighth-highest total of Final Four seeds (12).
A LOOK AHEAD
A quick glance at the list of upsets in this tournament shows that seven came courtesy of a mid-major program. Generally, those are the teams that pull what the NCAA considers an upset.
In that vein - and in honor of Butler's run to the title game - we look at the mid-major programs that have the potential to wreak some havoc in next season's tourney.
We're not including Gonzaga, Xavier, Memphis or any Mountain West team in this list; Gonzaga, Memphis, Xavier, New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State are all teams with top-25 potential next season, though.
Here is the list, with the teams listed alphabetically:
Butler: The Bulldogs could return four starters, all but undersized forward Willie Veasley, if swingman Gordon Hayward decides to stay for his junior season. The Hayward-Shelvin Mack duo would be one of college basketball's best next season. The Bulldogs play lockdown defense, and you'd imagine an emphasis will be placed on becoming a bit more explosive offensively. Decisions by Hayward and coach Brad Stevens, who will be courted by everyone with a job opening, obviously will be huge for the Bulldogs.
Iona: The Gaels appear set to return to the days when they dominated the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. They return eight of their top 10 scorers. Alas, coach Kevin Willard left to coach Seton Hall, but his replacement will be taking over a team that should be the MAAC's preseason favorite now that Siena looks to be in rebuilding mode.
Missouri State: This is a leap of faith of sorts, as the Bears were just 8-10 in the Missouri Valley. But they also won the CIT and finished the season with 24 wins. Coach Cuonzo Martin, a former Purdue player and assistant, will welcome back his top seven scorers. You can expect Martin to continue to emphasize defensive improvement. Missouri State wouldn't mind following the precedent set by Old Dominion; the Monarchs won the CIT in 2009, then pulled a first-round upset in this season's NCAA tourney as a No. 11 seed.
Saint Louis: The Billikens, who lost in the final of the CBI to Virginia Commonwealth, had no seniors on the roster. They had 10 players who averaged double-figure minutes, and coach Rick Majerus also is bringing in a solid recruiting class. SLU was inconsistent this season, which you would expect from such a young team. Thanks to Majerus' coaching acumen, the Billikens should be squarely in the hunt for the Atlantic 10 title next season.
Utah State: The Aggies have had 11 consecutive 20-win seasons, and that streak isn't likely to end anytime soon. Utah State will return eight of its top nine scorers from this season and will be the preseason WAC favorite again. The one issue with the Aggies always is going to be a lack of overall athleticism, but they shoot so well and take such good care of the ball that is usually doesn't matter. Coach Stew Morrill oversees one of the best programs in the nation; it's just too bad more people don't pay attention.
UTEP: New coach Tim Floyd (yes, that is hard to get your head around) is walking into a great situation. Everyone returns from a 26-win team except forward Derrick Caracter, who has decided to turn pro. The Miners played great defense this season under coach Tony Barbee, who left for Auburn. You can be sure defense will continue to be a focus under Floyd. Assuming guard Randy Culpepper and forward Arnett Moultrie stay in school, the Miners again will be a leading contender for the Conference USA title, though Memphis looks as if it will be back on top of the league.
Wichita State: With Northern Iowa losing the bulk of its key players, the Shockers seem poised to go into next season as the favorite to win the Missouri Valley title. While coach Gregg Marshall loses his top scorer, he does welcome back eight of his top nine scorers overall.
Wofford: The Terriers arrived in a big way this season and they return six of their top seven scorers, including Southern Conference player of the year Noah Dahlman. While the Terriers will remain a defense-first team, look for them to become a bit more offensive-minded.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.