Are the Oregon Ducks the Worst 1 Seed Over the Past 15 Years?

The numbers suggest that the Ducks are very overrated going into this year's Big Dance.

Coming into today, not everyone was as concerned with the bubble teams as they were the 1 seeds. After all, we were all awaiting the outcome of the Big Ten tournament to see if the Michigan State Spartans could add conference tournament champions to their already impressive tournament resume.

Kansas was -- and is -- without a doubt, the undisputed top overall seed, after winning both the Big 12 regular season and conference tournament championships. North Carolina was also all but assured a 1 seed no matter what region they fell in -- and it turns out that held true. 

As for the third and fourth 1 seeds, no one was certain as to how they would shake out given the comparable resumes of the aforementioned Spartans, the Virginia Cavaliers and the Oregon Ducks. The Cavaliers had a great regular season and finished runners-up to the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament while the Spartans and Ducks won their respective conference tournaments in the past 48 hours.

After all was said and done,the Selection Committee decided that Virginia's regular season was just too good to give them anything but a 1 seed. And Oregon's 31-point trouncing of Utah in the Pac 12 title game must have given them the edge over Michigan State for the last top seed.

Did the selection committee get it wrong?

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Let's compare resumes:

Team Record  nERD  RPI Pyth. Rtg
Team 1 28-6 14.93 0.6619 0.9123

Team Record  nERD  RPI Pyth. Rtg
Team 2 29-5 18.67 0.6308 0.9450

Team    Record  nERD  RPI Pyth. Rtg
Team 3 26-7 18.21 0.6574 0.9482

If you're just looking at these numbers, you'd probably say that Team 2 and Team 3 are the two who are most deserving of 1  seeds. Who are they? That would be Michigan State and Virginia.

That's right. The Spartans were way more deserving of the 1 seed than were the Ducks. Despite having a weaker conference (according to and their Simple Rating System, or SRS) and a weaker Non-Conference Strength of Schedule (according to, Michigan State has just been a better team this season. Sparty's nERD -- which is our in-house ranking that measures overall team efficiency and estimates a team's point differential against an average team on a neutral court -- indicates that they would, at a neutral site, beat the Ducks by an average of 3.74 points. 

If you're going off the numbers, Michigan State was more deserving of that last 1 seed, but in and of itself, the Ducks aren't very deserving to start with.

In the last 11 years not a single 1 seed has had a nERD lower than 15.53 -- earned by the Wichita State Shockers two years ago -- and the average nERD among them is 18.76. 

The Ducks are one of only three teams over the last 15 years to be awarded a 1 seed despite a nERD of 15 or lower. The other two teams are the 2002-03 Oklahoma Sooners and the 2003-04 Stanford Cardinal.


How did those two teams fare in their respective tournament runs?

For Oklahoma, they enjoyed a lot of success. The Sooners won three games before losing to the eventual champion Syracuse Orangemen, led by non other than Carmelo Anthony, in the Elite Eight.

On the other hand, Stanford won a single game before being ousted in the second round by an 8 seeded Alabama team.

We'll have to wait and see which way this Oregon team will go. Will they prove the naysayers wrong and affirm the Selection Committee's decision? Or will they confirm exactly what the numbers suggest -- that they are one of the worst 1 seeds we've seen in recent years -- and take the path of the Cardinal?