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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | March 14, 2021

The teams with the most NCAA tournament No. 1 seeds

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It’s the most coveted spot on Selection Sunday: The 1 seed. 

In 1979, the NCAA tournament bracket was expanded to 40 teams, and for the first time in tournament history, every single team in the bracket was seeded. 

In the 42 years since then, 49 different teams have earned a 1 seed. Of those, only 23 have done it more than twice. 

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But none have started the tournament on the top line more than North Carolina.

The Tar Heels have been a No. 1 seed 17 times in March, with the first coming in 1979, and the most recent coming in 2019. Of their six NCAA tournament championships, five came when UNC was a 1 seed. The sixth came in 1957, before seeds were established. 

With their 14th No. 1 seed in 2019, Duke moved into a tie with Kansas for second place all time. The Blue Devils have won four of their five championships as a 1 seed, with the other coming as a 2 seed in 1994. 

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: All-time No. 1 seeds and year-by-year results.

Kansas earned three 1 seeds in a row from 2016-2018, bumping their total up to 14. The Jayhawks also have three titles to their name, but only one of those came as a 1 seed (2008). The others came as a 6 seed (1988) and before seeds were introduced (1952).

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Kentucky is the only other school with double-digit 1 seeds. The Wildcats got their first top seed in 1980, and saw their 12th in 2015. Five of Kentucky’s eight championships came before the start of seeding, but of the three titles the Wildcats have won since, two came as a 1 seed (1996, 2012), and the third as a 2 seed (1998).

Here is the full list of all 49 teams that have earned a 1 seed since 1979:

Number Team Year(s)
17 North Carolina 1979-2019
14 Kansas 1986-2018
14 Duke 1986-2019
12 Kentucky 1980-2015
7 Virginia 1981-2019
6 Arizona 1988-2014
5 UConn 1990-2009
5 Georgetown 1982-1989
5 Michigan St. 1990-2012
5 Oklahoma 1985-2003
4 DePaul 1980-1984
4 Gonzaga 2013-2021
4 Illinois 1989-2021
4 Ohio St. 1991-2011
4 UCLA 1979-2008
4 Villanova 2006-2018
3 Indiana 1987-2013
3 Michigan 1985-2021
3 UNLV 1987-91
3 Purdue 1988-96
3 St. John’s (NY) 1983-86
3 Stanford 2000-04
3 Syracuse 1980-2012
2 Arkansas 1991-94
2 Florida 2007-14
2 *Louisville 1983-2009
2 LSU 1980-81
2 *Memphis 2006-08
2 Pittsburgh 2009-11
1 Auburn 1999
1 Baylor 2021
1 Cincinnati 2002
1 Houston 1983
1 Indiana St. 1979
1 Maryland 2002
1 Massachusetts 1996
1 Minnesota 1997
1 Missouri 1994
1 Notre Dame 1979
1 Oregon 2016
1 Oregon St. 1981
1 Saint Joseph’s 2004
1 Temple 1988
1 Texas 2003
1 Wake Forest 1995
1 Washington 2005
1 Wichita St. 2014
1 Wisconsin 2015
1 Xavier 2018

*Appearance later vacated by Committee on Infractions.

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