How Often Does a 1 Seed Win?

The NCAA tournament is one of the most exciting and competitive sporting events in the world. Every year, the best college basketball teams in the country compete for the national title and the chance to be crowned champions. One of the most coveted achievements in the tournament is earning a number one seed, as it is seen as a sign of excellence and success. But how often do these number one seeds actually win the tournament?

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Overview of the NCAA Tournament

Before exploring the answer to the question, let’s take a quick look at the NCAA tournament. The tournament is split into four regions: East, West, Midwest, and South. Each region consists of 16 teams, with the top seed in each region earning the number one ranking. The tournament is a single-elimination format, meaning that each team must win each successive game in order to advance. The higher-seeded team has home-court advantage in the tournament and the eventual winner of the tournament is crowned the national champion.

History of Number One Seeds

Since the tournament began in 1939, there have been a total of 120 number one seeds. Of these, 33 of them have gone on to win the tournament. This means that a number one seed has won the tournament 28% of the time. While this may seem like a low number, it is actually quite impressive when you consider the amount of competition that the number one seed faces each year.

Recent Success of Number One Seeds

In recent years, number one seeds have been particularly successful. Since 2009, number one seeds have won the tournament nine times, including five of the last six tournaments. This impressive streak of success is due in part to the fact that teams with the number one seed often have the best players, the most experienced coaches, and the most talented rosters.

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Number One Seeds vs. Other Seeds

When comparing the success of number one seeds to other seeds, it is clear that the number one seed is the most successful. Since the tournament began in 1939, number one seeds have won 28% of the time, while number two seeds have won 14% of the time, number three seeds have won 11% of the time, and number four seeds have won 8% of the time. This means that number one seeds are more than twice as likely to win the tournament as any other seed.

Difference Between Regular Season and Tournament Performance

It is important to note that the success of number one seeds in the NCAA tournament is not always indicative of their regular season performance. While number one seeds have often been the best teams in the regular season, they can still be upset in the tournament. This is due to the fact that the tournament is a single-elimination format, meaning that any team can win on any given day.


In conclusion, number one seeds have an impressive record of success in the NCAA tournament. Since the tournament began in 1939, number one seeds have won 28% of the time, more than twice as often as any other seed. While number one seeds are often the most talented and experienced teams in the tournament, they can still be upset on any given day due to the single-elimination format.