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Wayne Staats | | March 19, 2021

Here's the 2021 Final Four combination picked most often in the NCAA bracket

Tracing the NCAA bracket from 1851 London, through 1977 Staten Island, to today

If you liked the No. 1 teams this year, you weren't alone.

When it comes to Final Four picks, Bracket Challenge Game players picked the combination of the four No. 1 seeds more than any other.

No. 1 seeds Gonzaga, Michigan, Baylor and Illinois made the Final Four together in 8.04 percent of BCG brackets. As a sign of how popular Gonzaga was with users, the Bulldogs found themselves in the top 9 most popular Final Four combos.

UPDATES: We're tracking all perfect brackets in the 2021 NCAA tournament

The first one that doesn't have Gonzaga on the list? That's the No. 10 most popular combination, with No. 2 Iowa joined with No. 1 Michigan, No. 1 Illinois and No. 2 Ohio State, with this group at 1.22 percent. Gonzaga's popularity here makes sense — the Bulldogs are the most popular national champion pick this year by BCG users, too.

Some other things that stand out:

  • Houston is the first non-No. 1 seed to be on the most-popular combo list. The Cougars are with Gonzaga, Michigan and Baylor on the second-most popular combination at 7.80 percent.
  • Texas is the first No. 3 seed here. The Longhorns are part of the fifth-most popular combination, at 3.40 percent.
  • The first combo that has fewer than three No. 1 seeds consists of No. 2 seeds Alabama and Ohio State joining with Gonzaga and Illinois. This is the sixth-most popular combination at 2.67 percent.
  • Florida State is the most popular fourth seed, at least on this list. The Seminoles are with Gonzaga, Baylor and Illinois on the ninth-most popular Final Four combination.

Here's a look at the most popular Final Four combos:

Teams combo Percentage
(1) Gonzaga, (1) Michigan, (1) Baylor, (1) Illinois 8.04
(1) Gonzaga, (1) Michigan, (1) Baylor, (2) Houston 7.80
(1) Gonzaga, (2) Alabama, (1) Baylor, (1) Illinois 5.33
(1) Gonzaga, (1) Michigan, (2) Ohio State, (1) Illinois 4.17
(1) Gonzaga, (3) Texas, (1) Baylor, (1) Illinois 3.40
(1) Gonzaga, (2) Alabama, (2) Ohio State, (1) Illinois 2.67
(1) Gonzaga, (3) Texas, (2) Ohio State, (1) Illinois 2.21
(1) Gonzaga, (2) Alabama, (1) Baylor, (2) Houston 1.99
(1) Gonzaga, (4) Florida State, (1) Baylor, (2) Illinois 1.38
(2) Iowa, (1) Michigan, (2) Ohio State, (1) Illinois 1.22

College basketball rankings: Even unranked teams find success in the NCAA tournament

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — its modern format — only four of 35 national champions were unranked to start the season. That’s about one in every nine years.

Only .025 percent predicted the 2021 Final Four teams in the Bracket Challenge Game

UCLA's upset of No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight turned what could have been a record-high number of perfect picks into a tiny number that went 4-for-4.

A huge majority of NCAA brackets have a No. 1 seed winning the 2021 championship

Here is how many brackets predicted each seed to win the national championship, from Gonzaga and the No. 1 seeds through Drexel and the rest of the No. 16 seeds.
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