This article is part of a series of articles that uses historical trends in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament to provide advice for predicting future results. Recent trends will be the most heavily considered, namely from 2000 to the present. Other articles can be viewed from the links in the archives section at the bottom of the page.
No. 1 Seeds
Since 2000, there have been 13 games in the Final Four featuring a No. 1 seed against a non-No. 1 seed. No. 1 seeds have won an impressive 10 (77 percent) of those games. The average margin of victory in these games was the No. 1 seed winning by 6.46 points per game. Of the three losses a No. 1 seed experienced in the Final Four against a higher-seeded team, two came against a No. 2 seed and one came against a No. 3 seed. No. 1 seeds won five out of five games against teams seeded No. 4 or higher in the Final Four.
No. 2 Seeds
There have been 12 Final Four games featuring a No. 2 seed since 2000—seven that played as the favored seed and five that played as the higher seed. No. 2 seeds won only three of the seven (43 percent) against higher seeds, and two of the five (40 percent) against No. 1 seeds. In all Final Four games involving a No. 2 seed, the average margin of victory has been for the No. 2 seed to win by 0.75 points per game.
There have been five games in the NCAA Tournament this decade that have matched even seeds against each other. All of these games have had two No. 1 seeds playing, and three of them occurred in last year’s tournament (2008). The average margin of victory for the winning team is actually 10.8 points per game in these five games. The closest game of the five was a five-point win by North Carolina over Illinois in the 2005 National Championship.
Here is the breakdown of how each conference has fared in Final Four games since 2000 (wins, losses, winning percentage):
SEC: 5-2 (71 percent)
ACC: 7-5 (58 percent)
Big East: 4-3 (57 percent)
Big Ten: 5-6 (45 percent)
Conference USA: 1-1 (50 percent)
Big 12: 3-5 (38 percent)
Pac-10: 2-4 (33 percent)
Colonial: 0-1 (0 percent)
Even though the SEC has the best record as a conference, the only team with any Final Four victories in the SEC is Florida. Florida has won the national championship twice and runner-up once since 2000. Similarly, Memphis is the only representative for Conference USA and George Mason is the only representative for the Colonial Athletic Association.
No. 1 seeds have had tremendous success against non-No. 1 seeds in the Final Four
No. 2 seeds have struggled in Final Four games, even when they are the favored seed
Games featuring teams of the same seed have not turned out to be very close games
The Pac-10 and Big 12 conferences have been the worst of the power conferences in Final Four games