Four-seed success

There’s a story on this going in Thursday’s special section, but there’s one interesting stat that pops out about the NCAA tournament recently: No. 4 seeds have had their fair share of success in reaching the Frozen Four.

Since 2009, No. 4 seeds have reached the Frozen Four at double the frequency of No. 2s or No. 3s. Top seeds have been the most successful at reaching the Frozen Four.

Why is that? It’s tough to peg any reason other than the increased parity in the game, which leads to uncertainty in the tournament.

You can see the change in the NCAA tournament if you look at Frozen Four participants by seed. Let’s start by looking at 2003, when the NCAA started going with the current, 16-team setup.

Frozen Four participants by seed from 2003-05

No. 1 seeds — 8
No. 2 seeds — 3
No. 3 seeds — 1
No. 4 seeds — 0

As you can see, at first, the higher seeds dominated as you would expect. Then, in 2007, things started to change.

Frozen Four participants by seed from 2006-08

No. 1 seeds — 3
No. 2 seeds — 3
No. 3 seeds — 5
No. 4 seeds — 1

Through the first six years of the current setup, only a single No. 4 seed reached the tournament. In the last six years, six have made it.

Frozen Four participants by seed since 2009

No. 1 seeds — 12
No. 2 seeds — 3
No. 3 seeds — 3
No. 4 seeds — 6

7 thoughts on “Four-seed success

  1. It could just be a statistical anomaly due to a small sample size. If you add up all of the years in the current format, you get 23, 9, 9, 7. There has been a fairly even distribution of frozen four appearances between the 2-4 seeds. This suggests that number 1 seeds have just under a 50% chance of making the frozen 4, and 2-4 seeds have an equal shot at just under a 20% chance.

  2. There is a difference Brad. But, with such a small sample size I don’t think the predictive value will be very high. Meaning? It’s an interesting factoid, but it has little statistical value in terms of predicting which ranking will ultimately win the NC. Honestly, if we beat MN, this year will be a huge success regardless of the championship game results.

    • Pretty sure Brad didn’t write anything about predicting the NC winner. Simply that #2-4 are making the Frozen Four and that #4 seeds are doing it at a higher rate than when the current format began. Why do some people have to read more into what is written and nit-pick everything?

  3. An interesting trend, and I think the change in perception that has gone along with it where the #1 vs #4 seed game no longer feels like a foregone conclusion. I can’t see the trend reversing back any time soon. The #4 seed success is even more remarkable because it includes the usually out-manned AHA representative.

  4. Parity in college hockey seems to coincide with the surge in US hockey at about the same time, based on World Junior and Olympic results. Maybe better quality of US players, and better numbers of quality US players, is what is driving parity.

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