Editors Note – This post was originally published in May of 2013, so all historical data refers to 2012 CIAC Tournaments and prior. Might be time to revisit the research, but we thought it would be interesting to share it again now.
Back in the fall, one of the first posts on the new CIACsports.com was a look at how teams earning top-four seeds fared in the CIAC Tournaments. With the release of the pairings in nearly all the spring sports coming in the next few days, it seemed like a good time to do the same investigation for the spring sports. As the previous attempt with this research indicated, these results are not in any way predictive. It is simply a fun exercise to get a sense of how previous tournaments have played out.
The project was to look at the top four seeds over the past five tournaments in the six sports that have pairings-style championships (so no boys tennis, boys or girls golf, or outdoor track & field) and see how those teams fared in terms of tournament success. In the fall the story included a written breakdown of each sport, which seemed a bit wordy and unnecessary. This time all the data is presented below and the writing will just hit on the highlights.
The big takeaway was the overwhelming success top-four seeds have enjoyed in girls tennis and boys volleyball (note–with only two classes competing, the sample size is smaller in boys volleyball than other sports). In girls tennis only two champions over the past five years have not been a top-four seed, while in boys volleyball there has only been one-such champion. Both sports also saw a very high percentage of the teams that reached the finals be top-four seeds, which obviously contributes to the other statistic. Though interestingly, the overall winning percentage for top-four seeds in boys volleyball was the third lowest of any sport.
The sport that has seen the most “upsets” over the past five years was girls lacrosse in which only 33% of the champions have been top-four seeds. The numbers of semifinalists and finalists are lower in girls lacrosse than any other sport and it has the highest average seed for its champions. Fifth seeds have actually been the biggest success in girls lacrosse in terms of winning the title.
The other three sports — baseball, softball, and boys lacrosse — were fairly similar in terms of the patterns of success for top-four seeds. Baseball showed the lowest impact of having a top-four seed, though it was not quite into girls lacrosse territory. Baseball actually had a lower percentage of top-four seeds reach the semifinal round than girls lacrosse, but those teams enjoyed more success moving into the later rounds. One interesting oddity, in the past five years not a single number-one seed has won any baseball tournament, though if the study went back six years, there were three number-one seeds that claimed titles. The top-four seeds in softball were more successful in terms of winning titles than in boys lacrosse or baseball. The percentages also increased the later into the tournament it went, and the second seeds have had the most success with championships over the past four years. Boys lacrosse saw a fairly high percentage of top-four seeds reaching the semifinal round, but had the percentages decrease into the finals and in earning championships. So those “upset” teams that find their way late into the bracket have a good history of advancing all the way to the conclusion in that sport.
Here are the total numbers for all six sports
Top-4 seed record: 138-72 (66% winning percentage)
Top-4 seed semifinal appearances: 28 berths out of 80 total (35%)
Top-4 seed final appearances: 12/40 (30%)
Top-4 seed champions: 8/20 (40%)
Average seed of champions: 8.3
Most frequent seed champion: 4 (four times)
Total championships for top seed: 0
Record: 79-44 (69%)
Semifinal appearances: 40/60 (67%)
Final appearances: 17/30 (57%)
Champions: 9/15 (60%)
Average seed of champions: 4.1
Most frequent seed champion: 1 (four times)
Total championships for top seed: 4
Record: 79-44 (64%)
Semifinal appearances: 26/48 (54%)
Final appearances: 10/24 (42%)
Champions: 4/12 (33%)
Average seed of champions: 5.5
Most frequent seed champion: 5 (three times)
Total championships for top seed: 2
Record: 168-67 (71%)
Semifinal appearances: 45/80 (56%)
Final appearances: 24/40 (60%)
Champions: 13/20 (65%)
Average seed of champions: 4.6
Most frequent seed champion: 2 (six times)
Total championships for top seed: 3
Record: 123-47 (72%)
Semifinal appearances: 36/60 (60%)
Final appearances: 23/30 (77%)
Champions: 13/15 (87%)
Average seed of champions: 2.7
Most frequent seed champion: 1 (five times)
Total championships for top seed: 5
Record: 63-31 (67%)
Semifinal appearances: 30/40 (75%)
Final appearances: 18/20 (90%)
Champions: 9/10 (90%)
Average seed of champions: 1.9
Most frequent seed champion: 1 (six times)
Total championships for top seed: 6