Bracket IQ

BACK TO Bracket IQ
basketball-men-d1 flag

Wayne Staats | | March 31, 2021

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

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

The four No. 1 seeds combined to dominate Bracket Challenge Game players' selections for the national championship.

Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan combined to pick up 70.56 percent of title picks by all BCG users. The undefeated Bulldogs carried more than half of that load — 38.82 percent.

The No. 2 seeds were next on the list, though they combined for only 12.07 percent. Ohio State's 3.27 percent led the group.

Here's the list, broken down by seed:

Seeds Teams Combined percentage Top team
1 Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan 70.56 Gonzaga (38.82)
2 Alabama, Ohio State, Iowa, Houston 12.07 Ohio State (3.27)
3 Arkansas, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas 5.48 Kansas (2.09)
4 Florida State, Purdue, Oklahoma State, Virginia 3.52 Oklahoma State (1.47)
5 Creighton, Villanova, Tennessee, Colorado 1.52 Villanova (0.74)
6 USC, Texas Tech, BYU, San Diego State 1.10 Texas Tech (0.40)
7 Oregon, UConn, Clemson, Florida 1.00 UConn (0.36)
8 LSU, Loyola Chicago, North Carolina, Oklahoma 1.58 North Carolina (0.87)
9 Missouri, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, St. Bonaventure 0.72 Wisconsin (0.42)
10 Maryland, Virginia Tech, VCU, Rutgers 0.31 Maryland (0.10)
11 Syracuse, Utah State, Drake, UCLA 0.58 UCLA (0.24)
12 Oregon State, Georgetown, Winthrop, UCSB 0.35 Georgetown (0.21)
13 Ohio, North Texas, Liberty, UNC Greensboro 0.21 Liberty (0.09)
14 Abilene Christian, Morehead State, Colgate, Eastern Washington 0.30 Colgate (0.18)
15 Grand Canyon, Cleveland State, Oral Roberts, Iona 0.25 Oral Roberts (0.09)
16 Drexel, Hartford, Norfolk State, Texas Southern 0.47 Drexel (0.19)

Though the percentages often decreased the lower you go down the seed list, that wasn't always the case. One especially notable difference came with the No. 8 seeds. Those four teams combined for a higher percentage than the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 seeds — thanks to North Carolina. The popular Tar Heels, though seeded No. 8, are title champs on 0.87 percent of brackets — a number higher than that of three of the four No. 4 seeds (only Oklahoma State is higher) and all four No. 5 seeds. Villanova's 0.74 percent topped the No. 5 seeds but trailed UNC's percentage.

Down at the No. 16 level, Drexel's 0.19 percent stands out. That's a bigger percentage than any No. 13, No. 14 or No. 15 seed.

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.

How First Four teams do in the NCAA tournament

Here is how at-large participants in the First Four have done since 2011 and why you should consider picking one in your NCAA bracket.
Presented by
Presented by
Presented by

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners