The 2023 NCAA Tournament by the Numbers

Mar 16, 2023

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It’s one of the great days of every sports year – the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament. Games begin around noon and work productivity around the U.S. takes a huge dip as fans tune into games all afternoon and night long.

Like every NCAA Tournament, the 2023 edition will feature some very interesting numbers. Keep this one in mind – 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That represents the number of potential bracket outcomes. You have a 1-in-9.2 quintillion chance of picking the perfect bracket.

It’s a big number, but there are others associated with this year’s tournament. Maybe they can help you win a few more bets this time around.

Big Numbers

This year’s NCAA Tournament is the 84th NCAA tournament in history. The tournament began in 1939 with just eight teams. The tournament was played every year up until the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 tourney.

It has been 53 years since Notre Dame’s Austin Carr put himself in the NCAA record books. Carr shot 25-of-44 and scored 61 points in a win over Ohio in the 1970 tournament. Carr actually has four of top ten individual scoring performances in the NCAA tournament. Carr would go on to be the first pick in the 1970 NBA draft.

The number 33 is important because it represents the number of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances by the University of Kansas. Next on the list is Michigan State with 25. Gonzaga has appeared in 24 straight. No other team has been in more than eight straight.

The 20s

Since 1993, there have been 29 national champions. Each of those teams made it to the semifinals of their conference tournament. Many of those teams were seeded high in the NCAA tournament. Since seeding began in 1979, 26 No. 1 seeds have won national championships. That is the most of any seed.

Over the last 23 NCAA tournaments, 22 of the eventual national champions were either a No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 seed. The only national champion that was not a top-3 seed was UConn in 2014. The Huskies were seeded No. 7.

Only one team in college basketball history has appeared in 21 Final Fours. It’s not Duke, which has been to the Final Four 17 times. It’s the Blue Devils’ biggest rival – North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been to the Final Four a record 21 times.

National Titles

If you are a true college basketball fan, you’ll know that UCLA has the most NCAA championships with 11. The Bruins won seven straight from 1967 to 1973. Legendary head coach John Wooden won 10 of those titles in a 12-year span.

Kentucky is next on the list with eight national championships. Duke and Indiana each have five and Kansas and UConn have four. The only other schools with multiple national championships are Michigan State and NC State.

Planting Seeds

In the past 11 NCAA tournaments, a team seeded No. 7 or lower has reached the Elite Eight 10 times. Last year, it was North Carolina. The Tar Heels became the ninth straight No. 5 seed or lower to reach the Final Four. In 2021, UCLA made the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

The lowest seed to ever win a national championship was Villanova in 1985. The Wildcats were a No. 8 seed in the first tournament to feature 64 teams.

The No. 1 and No. 2 AP-ranked teams have met in the national championship game seven times. The last such instance was back in 2005. No. 2-ranked North Carolina beat top-ranked Illinois.

In five of the past nine tournaments, a No. 14 seed has won its first round game beating the No. 3 seed. Since the expansion to 64 teams, there have only been two years – 1995 and 2007 – in which a double-digit seeded team failed to make the Sweet Sixteen.

Of course, one is the loneliest number and only once in the history of March Madness has a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1. That was exactly five years ago, March 16, 2018, when UMBC upset Virginia, 74-54.

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