NEWARK, N.J. – These are the teams everybody roots for in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. The double-digit seeds. The underdogs. The teams that win a couple of heart-stopping games but just don't have enough to play for a national championship.
In the last four tournaments, double-digit seeds have a 2-9 record in the round of 16. What makes it worse is they've been blown out in most of the games.
On Friday night, No. 1 Kansas beat No. 12 Richmond 77-57, and No. 2 North Carolina whacked No. 11 Marquette 81-63, a game in which the Tar Heels led 51-18.
A double-digit seed was guaranteed a win when No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth played No. 10 Florida State on Friday night, the first time those two seeds ever met in an NCAA tournament game. Instead of the usual regional semifinal blowout, that game was like an early round thriller as the Rams beat Florida State 72-71 in overtime.
"At this point, a seed is a seed. It shouldn't affect the way a team plays," Marquette guard Junior Cadougan said. "We weren't playing the North Carolina program tonight. We played North Carolina players. It shouldn't have mattered if we came out and played. We didn't do that."
The average margin of victory in the eight losses to single-digit seeds over the last three years has been 19.2 points. The closest of those games was No. 12 Western Kentucky's 88-78 loss to No. 1 UCLA in 2008. The biggest blowout was No. 1 Louisville's 103-64 trouncing of No. 12 Arizona in 2009.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney didn't agree with the idea that the better teams get into the heads of the double-digit seeds, thereby explaining the majority of the outcomes.
"What gets in your head is the record and the statistics and just how good they are," he said.
Does a double-digit seed team get worn down, facing what most people consider a superior team for three games in a week?
"I think we've been the underdog the last 24 games, to be honest with you. I do think that it's part of our perspective. I think it's part of how we work. I think it's part of how I coach," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I just think that's how we function, is we are the underdog.
"So, I don't know that it wears on you. I think it becomes just a part of who we are, and I don't think that is negative, I just think that is kind of how demented I am."
The only double-digit seed to beat a single-digit seed in the regional semifinals in the last four years was No. 10 Davidson, which beat No. 3 Wisconsin 72-57 in 2008. The Wildcats lost to No. 1 Kansas 59-57 with a shot in the air to earn a trip to the Final Four.
"You can't come out here in the NCAA tournament and not play as hard as you can," Richmond's Justin Harper said. "You're not going to be able to do that against a great team like Kansas. We were trying to fight back, fight back, and they were able to make some big runs down the stretch."
Two double-digit seeds have advanced to the Final Four, both No. 11 seeds — LSU in 1986 and George Mason in 2006.
Since the field expanded to 64 in 1985, the double-digit seeds have gone 13-45.
"Numbers like that don't matter to me at all and don't mean anything," Marquette's Jimmy Butler said. "As long as you play hard, that should be all that matters. The No. 11 seed had nothing to affect this team today. A loss is a loss, no matter how you take it."