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Daniel Wilco | | March 12, 2019

March Madness: Getting to know the No. 11 seed

Which of the 11th seeded Cinderellas have delivered the most magical runs?

*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.

The 1989 NCAA tournament was a special one for the 11 seeds. That year, they swept their 6-seed opponents.

Minnesota got the ball rolling on March 16, beating Kansas State, 86-75, behind 29 points from Willie Burton. One day later, Evansville, South Alabama and Texas all beat their opponents.

South Alabama had the toughest time with its upset bid, beating in-state rival Alabama, 86-84, on a shot by Jeff Hodge with two seconds left in the game.

The 2017 tournament came close to matching the historic 1989 run by No. 11 seeds, as three of the four 11-seed teams pulled out wins. And the same thing happened in 2016, when No. 11 seed Michigan couldn’t beat No. 6 Notre Dame and just narrowly missed contributing to a four-for-four, No. 11-seed sweep. Last year just two No. 11 seeds won, but Syracuse advanced to the Sweet 16 and Loyola-Chicago reached the Final Four.

In total, 11 seeds have won 51 out of 136 opening round match-ups, or 37.5 percent of the time. Twenty-two have made it to the Sweet 16 and four have advanced to the Final Four. More 11 seeds have made the Final Four than 10 seeds or 9 seeds. 

LSU, George Mason, VCU and Loyola-Chicago all made history as the lowest seeds to ever make the Final Four and outside Loyola-Chicago's two-point win all won by considerable margins against their first-round opponents.

Year Winner Loser Score
1986 LSU Purdue 94-87
2006 George Mason Michigan State 75-65
2011 VCU Georgetown 74-56
2018 Loyola-Chicago Miami 64-62

While those teams had success throughout the tournament, it was Pepperdine in the 2000 tournament who gave us the biggest first round upset by an 11 seed over a 6 seed. The Waves beat Indiana in a 20-point blowout, 77-57, in Bobby Knight’s last game as the Hoosiers’ coach.


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