Will a year of perceived wackiness on the field translate into wildness in the NCAA tournament?
Tough to say, especially since the home-field advantage accorded to the top eight seeds has correlated so strongly with advancing to the quarterfinals during the 10 years of the tournament's 16-team era.
Home teams are 66-14 (.825) in the first round since 2003, though the winning percentage is a bit lower over the last six years. In that stretch, home teams are 37-11 (.771).
More to the point is the work of the top five seeds throughout the last decade. The top five teams in the bracket (let's assume 2003 Syracuse was the de facto No. 5 seed, even though the committee only slotted four teams that season) are a combined 37-3 (.925) in the first round.
Here's the full rundown, with unseeded home teams from 2003 (Syracuse, Massachusetts, Rutgers and Towson) placed into de facto seeds based on their quarterfinal pairings.
FIRST ROUND RECORD BY SEED, 2003-2012
||8-2||Virginia to Delaware (2007)
Syracuse to Army (2010)
||9-1||North Carolina to Navy (2008)
Cornell to Massachusetts (2006)
||5-5||Rutgers to Georgetown (2003)
Towson to Cornell (2005)
Maryland to UMBC (2007)
Notre Dame to Maryland (2009)
Lehigh to Maryland (2012)
||Cornell to Ohio State (2008)
North Carolina to Maryland (2011)
North Carolina to Denver (2012)
If you're seeking an upset, the Nos. 6-8 seeds are both the common-sense and historical places look; all three of those teams went down in the first round last year, and at least one has fallen every year since 2005.
But a giant mess among the presumptive favorites? That would be something very new indeed.
--- Patrick Stevens