*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.
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 score of 345-228 (an average win margin of 29.25 points per game). The closest we got to a historic upset was Villanova’s 76-56 win over Mount St. Mary's and Gonzaga's 66-46 win over South Dakota State. Villanova led 30-29 at halftime but the Wildcats pulled away in the second half. Gonzaga led 26-22 at halftime and South Dakota State pulled within seven points with 14:01 to play in the second half, but the Bulldogs finished strong to win by 20.
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 season, UNC and Gonzaga made the national championship game as No. 1 seeds. The other two top seeds – Villanova and Kansas – didn't make the Final Four. Only seven title games since expansion have been a 1-v-1.
Thanks to North Carolina last season, the Atlantic Coast Conference has had the most No. 1 seeds since 1985 with 30.