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No. 1 Seeds Have Won 18 of the Past 30 National Titles

March 16, 2015

It is all about numbers. Looking at the NCAA Tournament there is a 60% change or more that the Kentucky Wildcats or another of the No. 1 seeds – Duke, Villanova or Wisconsin – will win the 2015 national championship.

Since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985 to 64 teams, 18 of 30 national champions were seeded No. 1 to start the tournament.

That of course was not the case last year when No. 7 seeded Connecticut become only the third team during the past 30 years that was a lower than a No. 5 seed to win the National Championship. Villanova seeded No. 8 in 1985 and Kansas No. 6 in 1988 were the two others.

However, the dominant trend remains the chalk. Since 1985, 60% of the national champions have been No. 1 seeds, while the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds have won it 13.3% of the time and seeds 4, 6, 7 and 8 won it 3.4% of the team.

Of the past 30 national champions, 22 were either seeded No. 1 or No. 2, while six of the past eight national champions were seeded No. 1.

Over the same period of time, 46.7% of the No. 1 seeds have reached the championship game, while 18.3% of the No. 2 seeds and 15% of the No. 3 seeds.

In addition to No. 7 seed UConn reaching the final last season, No. 8 Kentucky reached the final game and in 2013, Michigan State at No. 4 also reached the championship game.

However, that is far from the norm. From 1985 forward, 80% of the participants in the championship game were seeded No. 1, 2 or 3. Counting UConn and Kentucky last season, just six participants in the championship game since 1985 were seeded lower than No. 4. On two occasions, Butler did it seeded No. 8 in 2011 as well as in 2012, Florida was No. 5 in 2000 and Indiana was No. 5 in 2002.

The odds are heavily stacked in favor of the No. 1 seeds, but could this year see a huge upset and a No. 5, 6 or even lower seed upset Kentucky? Stay tuned the Big Dance is about to begin.