It all gets underway very soon. The first Thursday of the NCAA tournament is one of the best days of the year for sports fans and bettors alike. The TVs will be on everywhere around noon and work productivity around the U.S. will almost come to a dead halt.
Every tournament has some interesting numbers. Here’s a big one – 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That represents the possible outcomes of the NCAA tournament bracket. It also means you have a 1-in-9.2 quintillion chance of picking every single game of the tourney correctly. Good luck with that.
It’s not the only number, however, associated with this year’s tournament. Here are several more that may even help you win a bet somewhere along the way.
The Big Ones
84: This will be the 84th NCAA tournament in college basketball history. The whole thing began back in 1939 with just eight teams. The only year the tournament was not played was in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
61 & 53: It was 53 years ago that Notre Dame’s Austin Carr put up 61 points on Ohio in the 1970 tournament. Carr went 25-of-44 from the floor (with no three-point line) to record the only 60-point game in NCAA tournament history. Carr holds four of the top ten highest single game scoring performances in tournament history.
33, 25, 24: Only three teams in college basketball history have been to more than eight straight NCAA tournaments. Kansas leads the way appearing in the last 33 consecutive tourneys. Michigan State has played in 25 straight and Gonzaga has been in the last 24 in a row. Next on the list? Purdue with eight.
The Roaring 20s
29: There have been 29 national champions since 1993. Every one of those teams made it to at least the semifinals of their conference tournament.
26: The NCAA began seeding teams in the tournament in 1979. Since then, 26 No. 1 seeds have won a title. That is the most of any seed. Interestingly, the only time all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Final Four was in 2008.
23, 22: Twenty-two of the last 23 national champions have been a No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 seed. The only title winner not a top-3 seed in the last 23 tournaments was UConn. In 2014, the Huskies were a No. 7 seed before winning it all.
21: Only one team has participated in more than 20 Finals Fours. North Carolina, which made it to the championship game last year, has been to the Final Four 21 times. UCLA is next on the list with 18 and Duke and Indiana have each been to 17.
11: The truest of college basketball fans will know that UCLA owns the record for the most national championships – 11. Under legendary head coach John Wooden, the Bruins won 10 of those titles in a 12-year span, including seven straight from 1967 to 1973.Kentucky is second on the list with eight national titles. Duke and Indiana each claim five championships while Kansas and UConn have four. Only two other schools have more than one national title – Michigan State and NC State.
Plant Those Seeds
8, 7, 5: A team seeded No. 7 or lower has reached the Elite Eight in 10 of the past 11 NCAA tournaments. North Carolina did it last year as a No. 8 seed. By making the Final Four, the Tar Heels became the ninth straight team seeded No. 5 or lower to advance. Don’t forget, the lowest-seeded team to win a national championship was Villanova in 1985.
5, 9, 14:
A No. 14 seed has won a first round NCAA game in five of the past nine tournaments. Double-digit seeds have had great success in March Madness. Since the NCAA expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been only two years – 1995 and 2007 – in which a team seeded No. 10 or lower has failed to make the Sweet Sixteen.
1: From 1939 to 2017, every single No. 1 seed won its first game in the NCAA tournament. On March 16, 2018, UMBC, a No. 16 seed, beat Virginia, a No. 1 seed. It remains the only time that a top seed has lost its first game in the tournament. Speaking of, Furman just defeated UVA in the first round this year and probably busted 99% of brackets. Who had Furman?!