March Madness 2018: Will No. 1-seed Kansas bust your NCAA bracket again?

How far will Kansas advance in the 2018 NCAA Tournament?

Elite Eight? Final Four? Championship? It's one of those March Madness decisions that makes or breaks a bracket. The Jayhawks, perhaps more than any other true blue-blood, are the toughest call despite a steady run of success that has produced either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed every year since 2009-10. Kansas is in line for a No. 1 seed after sweeping the Big 12 regular season and tournament championships.

NCAA BRACKET PICKS:
Bender (Virginia) | Birdsong (Arizona) | DeCourcy (Villanova) | Fagan (Villanova)

Are the Jayhawks to blame when your bracket busts? Sporting News compared the five schools with the most tournament appearances as either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1984-85. That group includes Duke (23), Kansas (20), North Carolina (19), Kentucky (16) and Arizona (13). These are the five families when it comes to filling out your bracket.

Here are five analytical stats that test Kansas' high-seed production. Unless noted, totals are for tournaments in expanded bracket era:

No. 1: Production as No. 1 seed

SCHOOL NO. 1 PTS EXPECTED PTS SCORED DIFF
Duke 13 195 382 +187
North Carolina 13 195 365 +170
Kentucky 10 150 216 +66
Arizona 6 90 40 -50
Kansas 13 195 133 -62

THE STAT: Measuring the difference in the points expected from a school as a No. 1 seed (expecting 15 points per tournament for reaching the Final Four in standard bracket scoring) vs. the points produced as a No. 1 seed in those tournaments. We're trying to find out who plays big as a No. 1 seed.

WHO DOES IT BEST? Duke and North Carolina take care of business at No. 1. North Carolina reached the Final Four or better nine out of 13 times. Duke reached the Final Four seven out of 13 times as a No. 1, and that includes six championship game appearances.

SELECTION SUNDAY 2018: Show time, date, TV for NCAA Tournament bracket reveal

ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks have three Final Four appearances as a No. 1 seed, but they've failed to advance past the Sweet 16 in six of those 13 appearances. That includes three second-round losses.

No. 2: Production as No. 2 seed​

SCHOOL NO. 2 PTS EXPECTED PTS SCORED DIFF
Kentucky 6 42 90 58
Kansas 7 49 87 38
Duke 10 70 106 36
Arizona 7 49 60 11
North Carolina 6 42 40 -2

THE STAT: SN measured the difference in the points expected from a school as a No. 2 seed (i.e. expecting seven points per tournament for reaching the Final Four in standard brackets) vs. the points produced as a No. 2.

WHO DOES IT BEST? Kentucky has reached the Elite Eight or better five of six times as a No. 2, and that included a national championship in 1997-98.

ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks over-perform as a No. 2 seed despite second-round losses in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Kansas lost in the national championship game in 2002-03 and 2011-12 as a No. 2 seed.

Kansas Chalk Embed 1

No. 3: Tournament peformance

SCHOOL APP EQUAL/BETTER UNDERPERFORM PCT
North Carolina 19 13 6 .684
Kentucky 16 9 7 .563
Duke 23 12 11 .522
Kansas 20 8 12 .400
Arizona 13 4 9 .308

THE STAT: SN measured the number of appearances as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and determining whether a school did equal or better than their seed (Final Four as a No. 1, Elite Eight as a No. 2) or under-performed in those spots. We put that performance into a percentage.

WHO DOES IT BEST? North Carolina is the most-reliable No. 1 or No. 2 seed in terms of delivering expected points.

MORE: 2018 NCAA Tournament schedule

ABOUT KANSAS: Kansas has under-performed in 60 percent of those tournaments as a No. 1 or No. 2, but it's not as bad as Arizona. Kansas has a reputation as a powerhouse that will bust your bracket because you lose points more often than you gain when they are a No. 1 or No. 2.

No. 4: Points by seed

SCHOOL TOTAL AVG
North Carolina 546 28.7
Kentucky 441 27.6
Duke 580 25.2
Kansas 315 15.8
Arizona 194 14.9


THE STAT: SN looked through every tournament bracket since 1985 and awarded points for victories by seed on a 1-16 scale (a win against a No. 16 seed earns one point, a win against a No. 1 seed earns 16 points). Schools were also docked points by seed on the same 1-16 scale, but you lose points by the number (a lost to a No. 16 seed costs 16 points, a loss to a No. 1 seed costs one point). We then averaged those points by appearance as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to see which teams are consistent scorers in the tournament.

WHO DOES IT BEST? North Carolina and Kentucky again are the top performers as No. 1 or No. 2 seeds. Duke scored the most points by this system, but the Blue Devils have three second-round exits and a first-round exit.

ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks don't have a first-round exit, but they've failed to advance past the Sweet 16 nine out of 20 times as either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

Kansas Chalk Embed 2

No. 5: Points by seed since 2010

SCHOOL APP TOTAL AVG
Kentucky 4 133 33.3
North Carolina 4 130 32.5
Duke 6 137 22.8
Arizona 3 41 13.7
Kansas 8 73 9.1

THE STAT: We used the same seed-based scoring formula but applied to tournaments since 2009-10. Kansas is the only school who has been either a No. 1 or No. 2 each of the last eight seasons.

WHO DOES IT BEST? Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke have almost doubled Kansas' production despite fewer appearances as either a No. 1 or No. 2.

ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks have averaged just 9.1 points per tournament by that formula in this stretch, and most of that came on a trip to the championship game against Kentucky in 2011-12.

VERDICT

Are we being unfair to Kansas? After all, Arizona is ranked lower in three of the six tables above. The Wildcats have never won the national championship as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Arizona was a No. 4 seed in 1996-97 when it made an incredible run to the national championship that included victories against Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky.

Kansas will continue to be a power in the Big 12 and in position to grab No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament. There are two major differences in the expanded bracket era since 1984-85.

Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky have a lot more points because those three schools have combined for 12 national championships in the expanded bracket era. That skews the overall points, but the deeper dive into the year-by-year performance shows Kansas breaking more brackets.

That's been amplified this decade. Here's a closer look at that run of No. 1 or No. 2 seeds for the Jayhawks:

YEAR SEED OPPONENT POINTS BY SEED
2010 1 9 Northern Iowa 69-67 -7
2011 1 11 VCU 71-61 3
2012 2 1 Kentucky 67-59 45
2013 1 4 Michigan 87-85 6
2014 2 10 Stanford 60-57 -8
2015 2 7 Wichita State 78-65 -5
2016 1 2 Villanova 64-59 20
2017 1 3 Oregon 74-60 19

NCAA BRACKET BREAKDOWNS:
East | South | Midwest | West

It's the shock value of some of those losses that sticks. Big shots by Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh and Michigan's Trey Burke are still fresh in memory along with upset losses to double-digit seeds in VCU and Stanford. The last two seasons, it's been Elite Eight losses to Villanova and Oregon. Seemingly everybody has a story to tell about that time the Jayhawks busted their bracket.

The common thread? Kansas was supposed to win those games. With the exception to the 2011-12 tournament, the Jayhawks have not performed up to expectations in the tournament in this stretch.

That doesn't mean Kansas isn't a good team or even a good tournament team. It just means that until the Jayhawks win another national championship or two, the stigma of being a team that busts the bracket will exist. It's been a 60-40 proposition since 1984-85, and it's something this year's team can help change.

MORE: The 14 most humiliating first-round chokes in Big Dance history | The 12 most shocking results in Final Four history, ranked

How far will Kansas go in your NCAA tournament bracket this season? Elite Eight? Final Four? Championship?

Now you know the risks involved.