Two years ago, it finally happened –  after 33 years and 132 straight wins, a 1-seed lost to a 16-seed!  And it wasn’t even close – UMBC beat Virginia 74-54.

You’d expect the 1-seeds to be dominant, right?  Sure they get beat plenty in the later rounds of the tournament.  Some of my most memorable games are ones where 1-seeds were upset in the second round (Bama over Stanford in 2004 and Northern Iowa over Kansas in 2010).  But…yeah.  The 1-seeds have been dominant.  They’ve won 63% of the past 35 tournaments and 7 of the last 10!

Overall Performance

  • 139 (of 140) 1-seeds advanced to the Second Round
  • 120 went on to the Sweet 16
  • 96 reached the Elite 8
  • 58 reached the Final 4
  • 34 made the championship game
  • 22 won the tournament

Performance Over the Last 10 Years

  • 39 (of 40) advanced to the Second Round
  • 32 went on to the Sweet 16
  • 23 reached the Elite 8
  • 13 reached the Final 4
  • 10 made it to the championship game
  • 7 won the tournament

Bracket Performance History and Advice

  • First Round:  A 1-seed has now only lost once in the First Round.  There have been close calls, but actually picking the upset is Bracket suicide.
  • Second Round:  All 1-seeds will reach the second round, and 86% of them advance further.  It’s basically a toss up whether only 3 or all 4 will advance to the Sweet 16.
  • Sweet 16:  It’s not likely that all four 1-seeds will survive past the Sweet 16 – it’s only happened 8 times.  At least two, and most likely three 1-seeds will win their Sweet 16 matchup.
  • Elite 8:  1-seeds are the only ones to have at least one representative in all but two Final Fours, so at least one will probably advance.  Most likely, only one or two 1-seeds will make it past the Elite 8.
  • Final 4:  1-seeds are 20-10 in Final 4 games against lower-seeded opponents.  There has been at least one 1-seed in 26 of 34 (76%) championship games.  Seven Championship games (including 2 of the last 4) were a matchup of 1-seeds.
  • Final:  1-seeds have won 63% of the past 35 tournaments and 7 of the last 10!  They are 15-5 against lower-seeded opponents.

Record in the Second Round

  • vs 8-seeds:  55-12
  • vs 9-seeds:  65-7

Feats of Strength

  • 2008 is the only year all four 1-seeds reached the Final 4.  Those teams were North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis, and Kansas.
  • Seven championship games featured a 1-seed face-off:
    • 1993 – North Carolina beat Michigan
    • 1999 – Connecticut beat Duke
    • 2005 – North Carolina beat Illinois
    • 2007 – Florida beat Ohio State
    • 2008 – Kansas beat Memphis
    • 2015 – Duke beat Wisconsin
    • 2017 – North Carolina beat Gonzaga

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