When it comes to the 3 vs. 14 matchup, it is often hit or miss. For example, there was at least one upset by a 14-seed in 11 of 15 years from when the tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to the turn of the century in 2000. Then, from 2000 to 2012, there were only three 14-seeded upsets, and finally, there has been at least one upset from this matchup in four of the past six NCAA Tournaments.
Best 14-Seed Upsets
In 2016, 14-seeded Stephen F. Austin closed as a 7-point underdog to 3-seeded West Virginia and ended up blowing the Mountaineers out by 14 points. The point is, be careful when wagering on this matchup, because it can certainly provide some big wins and excitement, but there has not been an exact science as to how or when to bet on a 14-seed.
Prior to the 12-year slump that saw just three teams pull off the upset in this matchup (2005 Bucknell, 2006 Northwestern State, 2010 Ohio), the 14-seeds were feeling it. In addition to pulling off an upset in 11 of 15 years, there were two instances where two 14-seeds advanced to the second round in the same year. The first was in 1986, when Arkansas-Little Rock upset Notre Dame and Cleveland State took down Indiana, and the second time happened in 1995, with Weber State upsetting Michigan State and Old Dominion taking down Villanova in an epic 3-overtime battle.
Given that most 3 vs. 14 matchups are considered lopsided, there could be some good betting value here. Over the past eight years, 3-seeds are just 16-16 against the spread in 32 games. In fact, the 2015 tournament saw the 14-seeds go 4-0 against the spread, so it is certainly worth looking into the matchups. Last year, Bucknell lost by just four points to Michigan State in this matchup.
As for anything beyond the first round, 14-seeds have pulled off the upset 21 times; however, only two have made it to the Sweet 16 (1986 Cleveland State, 1997 Chattanooga) and none have made it to the Elite Eight.