It started out as a simple experiment. Which NCAA men’s basketball teams historically choked the most? It has now become a yearly obsession. Picking March Madness brackets is now an annual ritual—one that comes with fierce emotions. These emotions strongly pull most fans to move their team forward in the tournament while X’ing off the teams they hate.
Don’t let emotions rule you. You’re better than that! Use data instead.
With that in mind, I present the 2018 Edition of the Choker’s Index. What is the Choker’s Index you say? Well, I’m glad you asked.
The Choker’s Index began in 2013. Each year after I added a bit more. Last year I published this piece right here on TrePryor.com, even though college basketball is a far cry from Louisville real estate. I say, “Adios!” to convention.
This year, I’ve updated all the data that stretches back to the beginning of the expanded NCAA field in 1985. Here are the criteria:
- I’m only looking at schools that’ve made the tournament for at least 15 years. Here are the 11 teams I added this year: Georgia Tech, Iowa, Iowa State, LSU, Marquette, N. Carolina State, Stanford, Utah, Virginia, W. Virginia, and Wake Forest.
- The Index is weighted. Opening rounds games count the most, and as the tournament progresses, the factor is reduced slightly each round.
- When you are a higher seed and lose that’s the only thing that matters. Losing to a better team doesn’t affect the team’s Choker’s Index.
- The bigger the defeat, the more it costs you! If you’re the #1 seed and you fall to the #2 in the fourth round, that only costs you a half-point. No biggie. But when the #15 knocks out the #2 in the opening round, that’s 13 points!
Biggest Upsets in NCAA Tournament History
Speaking of which, here are the biggest upsets (choke jobs) in the history of the NCAA Tournament! I’ve linked up some video highlights on those game scores. Enjoy!
|1997||South Carolina||Coppin State||78-65|
|2013||Georgetown||Florida Gulf Coast||68-78|
|2016||Michigan State||Middle Tennessee State||81-90|
Choker’s in the 2017 NCAA Tournament
So before we get to the updated index, let’s see who laid down last year. Who wet the bed? Which team simply laid an egg?
As it turns out, 2017 wasn’t a big year for upsets with just 7. Seeds held strong, even though all the experts thought the tournament was wide open. Go figure.
But here’s who did choke last year:
- Arizona (2) lost to Xavier (11) in the third round: -6
- Villanova (1) lost to Wisconsin (8) in the second round: -5.9
- Maryland (6) lost to Xavier (11) in the first round: -5
- Duke (2) lost to S. Carolina (7) in the second round: -4.2
- Louisville (2) lost to Michigan (7) in the second round: -4.2
- Florida (4) lost to Wisconsin (8) in the third round: -2
- Kansas (1) lost to Oregon (3) in the fourth round: -1
Putting all those together only results in a Choker Index of 28.3 for the year. Lame! It’s just a little better than the lowest year on record—a -19.2 index point in 2007.
We want more upsets. How about this year we see another year like 2001 when the index sky-rocketed up to 78.12! Let’s go underdogs.
The 2018 Choker’s Index
Ok, enough of the preliminaries, let’s get the chart so you can know who not to select when you pick March Madness brackets this year. This year I kept the negative sign so that we can better see that it’s a problem with a large number next to your favorite team’s name. The Choker’s Index is the average
So we see some newcomers rise to the top of the list. Last year’s report went to Missouri, Notre Dame, and then UCLA. Now we’ve got Iowa State, Missouri, and West Virginia. It’s crazy because West Virginia doesn’t choke often, just 20% of the time but when they do… look out!
The inverse is Iowa State who only choked 3 games out of their 18 tournament appearances but 2 of those were massive choke jobs.
The average Choker’s Index for all the teams in this report is -4.07, which is where the red line lives.
It’s really up to you whether to devalue teams that choke more often or those that perform the biggest chokes.
- Average Number of Upsets Per Year: 8.82
- Biggest Upset Year: 2006 (17 Upsets)
- Average Choker Index Total Per Year: 34.22
- Largest Choker Index Total: 2001 (78.12 Choker Index Points)
So there you have it. Go forth and win your bracket contest!