Is this the year a No. 16 beats a No. 1? 

March, 8, 2013
03/08/13
7:48
AM ET

It seems like a top-ranked NCAA team loses every time a day ends in "Y" this season. With the top of brackets as unstable as astatine-213, it's time to ask: Could this finally be the year a No. 16 seed takes down a No. 1?

The Giant Killers statistical model tells us it's not actually likely that a No. 1 seed will become the first ever to lose its first March Madness game, but the odds are much better than we have seen in recent seasons. We estimate there's a 27 percent to 30 percent chance of an upset in 2013, compared with a range of 7 percent to 17 percent in tournaments since 2007. And if the right Killer steals an auto bid and gets seeded against a vulnerable Giant, the probability of an enormous upset could zoom to more than 40 percent. This season, it will make sense to pause at least a moment before advancing No. 1 seeds through your brackets.

Allow us to explain why and show you which potential No. 16 seeds have the best chance of pulling an upset, and which potential No. 1 seeds are most vulnerable.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

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