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A look at No. 7 seeds vs No. 10 seeds in the NCAA Tournament

For the first time in a while, the Missouri Tigers are in the NCAA Tournament and actually not in the 8/9 game. Let’s take a look at how No. 7 seeds have fared in the first round.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers are officially NCAA Tournament bound, clinching a spot in The Big Dance for the third time in the last six seasons, earning a No. 7 seed in the South Region against No. 10 seed Utah State Thursday in Sacramento, California.

An overall record of 24-9 with six Quadrant 1 wins and an unblemished record in Quadrants 2-4 was just enough for Mizzou to avoid the dreaded 8/9 seed line, snapping a streak of their last three NCAA Tournament appearances being one of those two seeds.

As Mizzou clinched NCAA Tournament “lock” status in the final week of the regular season, their next order of business was to avoid that dangerous 8/9 line, and they ultimately did so with their win over Tennessee in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals. A “monkey off their back” indeed.

But what’s the difference between being a No. 7 seed and on the 8/9 line, you ask?

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, history tells us that seven seeds have had a sizeable advantage against 10 seeds — which is to be expected, but the difference that matchup and the 8/9 game is pretty substantial.

All-Time Record for No. 7 Seeds:

  • Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the No. 7 seeds hold an 89-58 record against No. 10 seeds (a .605 winning percentage). Comparing that to the ultimate 8/9 tossup game — No. 8 seeds actually have a losing record against No. 9 seeds, 72-76 (.486 winning percentage).
  • 7 seeds in the first round are closing in on 6 seeds, as No. 6 seeds are 91-57 against 11 seeds (.615 winning percentage).

Note: These stats are according to graphics on CBS Sports’ Eye on College Basketball Podcast

No. 7 Seeds in Last Year’s NCAA Tournament:

  • In last year’s NCAA Tournament, No. 7 seeds went a combined 3-1 against No. 10 seeds (Michigan State over Davidson, Murray State over San Francisco, Ohio State over Loyola-Chicago, and USC losing to Miami (FL)).

Last time No. 7 seeds were swept by No. 10 seeds:

  • From, there has been just one tournament over the last 35 years (1999) where all No. 10 seeds have swept the No. 7 seeds.

While seven seeds historically have the majority of success, 7 vs 10 games are still considered tossups — especially this one. Utah State isn’t your normal No. 10 seed, as the Aggies come in at No. 18 on KenPom’s rankings. They are by far the best KenPom-rated 10th seed with USC at 36, Penn State at 39, and Boise State at 31 — making Missouri the only (slight) underdog 7 seed.

No doubt, Utah State will provide a tough matchup for Mizzou, but for a team that has wins over No. 4 seed Tennessee (twice), No. 6 Kentucky, No. 6 Iowa State, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Illinois and No. 11 Mississippi State — the Tigers arguably present the best resume amongst seven seeds.

This will be Mizzou’s 29th NCAA Tournament appearance in the program’s history and it’s the first time the Tigers have ever been a No. 7 seed, according to college basketball’s sports reference page. Ironically, Missouri’s last NCAA Tournament win in 2010 just so happened to be in the 7/10 game as the No. 10 seed over Clemson 86-78.

Expectations-wise, it has already been a good season for this Mizzou Basketball team in year one under head coach Dennis Gates — but getting their first NCAA Tournament win since 2010 can make it a really good one. For the first time in a while, the Tigers find themselves in a relatively good seeding position to do so.