Four 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 64% of the past 36 tournaments and 7 of the last 10!
- 143 (of 144) 1-seeds advanced to the Second Round
- 123 went on to the Sweet 16
- 100 reached the Elite 8
- 60 reached the Final 4
- 36 made the championship game
- 23 won the tournament
Performance Over the Last 10 Years
- 39 (of 40) advanced to the Second Round
- 32 went on to the Sweet 16
- 25 reached the Elite 8
- 14 reached the Final 4
- 11 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: 57-13
- vs 9-seeds: 66-7
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.
- Eight 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
- 2021 – Baylor beat Gonzaga