How 1 Seeds do in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

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How 1 Seeds do in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Author: Devin Erickson-Sheehy | Last Updated: February 22, 2023

The NCAA Tournament field of 64 is divided into four regions. Every team is then seeded between 1-16 by the selection committee. The 1 seed in each region represents the top team based on regular season performance.

March Madness is synonymous with shocking results and memorable upsets. It's not uncommon to see underdogs and double-digit seeds prevail and advance past the first few rounds, leaving a trail of top-seeded contenders in their wake.

So, how do 1 seeds do in the NCAA Tournament?

As it turns out quite well. Since the implementation of the modern NCAA bracket in 1985, when the Tournament was expanded to 64 teams, a whopping 24 of the 37 champions have been 1 seeds. That accounts for 65% of all March Madness winners.

Seed NCAAM TitlesOverall Percentage
1 24 65%
2 5 14%
3 4 11%
4 1 3%
5 0 0%
6 1 3%
7 1 3%
8 1 3%

The Selection Committee appears to have gotten it right in recent years. The #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks emerged with the crown in 2022, capping a dominant run by 1 seeds in recent seasons. Here's a look at what some of the top-seeded teams have achieved in recent years:

  • Won the last five NCAAM Tournaments
  • Won 12 of the past 15 NCAAM Tournaments
  • At least one 1 seed has reached the Final Four in every Tournament since 2011

It's not all good news, though. While 1 seeds have qualified for 59 Final Fours since 1985, being a 1 seed doesn't necessarily guarantee a deep tournament run. There has been only one March Madness Tournament (2008) in which all four 1 seeds reached the Final Four and only five instances in which three 1 Seeds made the final weekend.

Therefore while we can expect to see one (or more) 1 seeds at the end, determining which one it will be is the challenge.