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NCAA Tournament: Previewing the 8/9 Matchups

In the "second round" of the NCAA Tournament, we tend to get a fair share of blowouts. A lot of the time, those come courtesy of the lopsided 1-16, 2-15 or even 3-14 matchups. We get a few others sprinkled in here and there, as well.

One place that's very unlikely to happen is in the 8-9 games, when two teams are often evenly matched, and we, as viewers, are rewarded with a highly competitive contest. Let's be honest, though -- we primarily watch because 8-9's can make or break your first-round record in your bracket. They're nearly unpredictable.

Over the years, the total overall record in 8-9 matchups is 64-64. It's a coin flip.

But, if you make use of our tools, it's substantially more predictable. Like we have here, for these closely-matched games, you can use our nERD metric to decipher which team is actually better. nERD basically tells us the expected point differential for a team against an average team on a neutral court, where teams play in March Madness.

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Over the past 17 seasons, we've calculated each team's nERD throughout the regular season. In returning to the outcomes of each 8-9 matchup, we've found that the team with the higher nERD has emerged victorious 63.2% of the time, marking a 13.2% improvement over your basic likelihood by seeding alone.

This year, are there any highly predictable 8-9 games? Are there any games in which a 9 seed is better than the 8? Let's sort them by which matchups, per nERD, are the most evenly matched.

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