March Madness: Getting to know the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament
*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.
|Know your seed|
|No. 1||No. 9|
|No. 2||No. 10|
|No. 3||No. 11|
|No. 4||No. 12|
|No. 5||No. 13|
|No. 6||No. 14|
|No. 7||No. 15|
|No. 8||No. 16|
Take the 1989 tournament for instance when not one but two No. 1 seeds (Georgetown and Oklahoma) barely escaped in the opening round. The Hoyas and Sooners defeated Princeton and East Tennessee State respectively by a single point. A year later, Michigan State found itself in a similar position before eventually defeating Murray State, 75-71 in OT.
And in 1996, Purdue survived a scare from the Western Carolina Catamounts, winning 73-71.
While no other teams have come down to a single possession, there have been some memorable games in the past five years that have been decided by single digits. Both 2012 Syracuse and 2013 Kansas survived tough contests from No. 16 seeds, defeating UNC-Asheville and Western Kentucky respectively by seven points.
Last year, the No. 1 seeds won their first-round matchups a combined 360-243 (an average win margin of 29.25 points per game). The closest we got to an historic upset was North Carolina’s 83-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles threatened in the second half, cutting UNC’s lead to three points with 18:15 left, but the Tar Heels responded with a 20-3 run over the next seven minutes to shut the door on FGCU and kick off their run to the championship game.
All in all, No. 1 seeds have won their opening round matchups by an average of 25.1 points per game, though in 1998, the average margin was a whopping 42.25 points per game thanks to wins of 88-52, 99-60, 99-63 and 110-52.
Now, the No. 1 seeds may have it easy in the opening round, but the rest of the tournament could go either way. Despite the dominating numbers, 2008 remains the only year that the Final Four has been comprised of all No. 1 seeds. Last year, UNC was the only top seed to make the Final Four. Only six title games since expansion have been a 1-v-1, including most recently, 2015's showdown between Duke and Wisconsin.
Thanks to Virginia and North Carolina last season, the Atlantic Coast Conference had the most No. 1 seeds since 1985 with 29 coming into this year's tournament. This year, North Carolina's second 1 seed in a row makes that an even 30 for the ACC.