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In the 2016 NCAA Tournament garden, here’s where the seeds landed

The Final Four is set, with seeds 2, 2, 10 and 1 headed for Houston.

The paths of the various regions offer cause for an update of seeding histories in the Big Dance.

Consider this a trip through the NCAA tournament garden over time…

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28:  Sam Dekker #15 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after making a three-pointer in the second half while taking on the Arizona Wildcats during the West Regional Final of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 28: Sam Dekker #15 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after making a three-pointer in the second half while taking on the Arizona Wildcats during the West Regional Final of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The West Region once again featured a 2 seed in the final… and a 1 seed not winning it.

This has been the predominant pattern in the West in the past 25 NCAA tournaments, which goes back to 1992, when second-seeded Indiana beat top-seeded UCLA in the final.

How many times has a number 1 seed in the West won the region since 1992 (25 NCAA tournaments)? Even 10 would be less than half. Sounds reasonable, right?

The answer is seven: Michigan in 1993, UCLA in 1995 and 2008, Kentucky in 1997, Connecticut in 1999 and 2009, and Wisconsin (above) last year. Only five schools since 1992 have taken a 1 in the West to the Final Four.

On the flip side, how many times has the 2 seed in the West reached the regional final in the last 25 Big Dances? The answer: 15, more than double the number of times the 1 seed has won the region.

The 2 seed in the West has won the region nine times since 1992, two more than the 1 seed: Indiana in 1992, Arizona in 1994, Oklahoma in 2002 and this year, Kansas in 2003, Connecticut in 2004, UCLA in 2006 and 2007, and Wisconsin in 2014.

For the third straight year, the West final was 1-versus-2. For the fourth straight year, a 2 seed was in the final.

About the Anaheim site: The last six times the West final has been held in Anaheim, a Pac-12 team has been in the game, five times as the 1 seed… but has lost all six games.

Coach K and players during Duke's win over Gonzaga in the 2015 South Regional final.

Coach K and players during Duke’s win over Gonzaga in the 2015 South Regional final.

The South Regional final had its second straight 1-versus-2 matchup. Duke beat Gonzaga last year, but that was the 1 over the 2. This time, the 2 struck back in Villanova’s win over Kansas.

Does anything set apart the South Region the way the West has usually vaulted 2 seeds over 1s? Yes. CHAOS.

The South Region has produced more volatility over the past 25 Dances than the others, at least in terms of teams seeded 4 or lower making the Final Four. The past two years have been calm, but the South has sent 10 teams seeded 4 or lower to the Final Four since 1992. The East Region is second with seven. The West has six, the Midwest only five.

Here’s an interesting collection of patterns with the South in terms of the composition of its regional final over time:

From 2000 through 2004, a team seeded 7 or lower made the final.

From 2005 through 2011, the 2 seed missed the South final only once but never won it.

A 1 seed has reached 8 of the last 10 South finals; Kansas’s loss on Saturday marked the first loss for a top-seeded South Regional finalist since 1998, when Duke lost to Kentucky.

That Duke-Kentucky result was also the last time a 2 seed won the South final before Villanova broke through against KU.

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The Midwest Regional final featured a 10 seed beating a 1 when Syracuse rallied against Virginia. Guess what? The Midwest was also the last region in which an 11 seed or any double-digit seed advanced to the Final Four. VCU, a No. 11 seed, beat top-seeded Kansas in the 2011 Midwest Regional final.

A separate Midwest Regional seeding note: One of the top two seeds has been in each of the previous six finals, but 1-versus-2 has happened only twice.

One more note: From 1999-2009, one of the top two seeds appeared in every Midwest final except 2004 (Georgia Tech-Kansas).

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The East Regional stands out from the pack in that one of the top three seeds (North Carolina) finally won it. The past three years, no team seeded higher than fourth won the regional. The last 1-versus-2 East final came in 2012 (Ohio State over Syracuse).

From 1996 through 2002, a 1 seed won the East every year but 2000.

Before North Carolina beat Notre Dame, the last 1 seed to win the East had been in 2008.

Even with UNC’s win, 1 seeds have had it hard in the East since 2003. Top seeds, over the past 14 East Regionals, have won a total of three regional championships.

Matt Zemek

About Matt Zemek

Matt Zemek is the managing editor of The Student Section, covering college football and basketball with associate editors Terry Johnson and Bart Doan. Mr. Zemek is the editor of Crossover Chronicles, covering the NBA. He is also Bloguin's lead tennis writer, covering the major tournaments. He contributes to other Bloguin sites, such as The AP Party.

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