The AP No. 1 males’s basketball staff is much from a lock to win the NCAA event

It looks as if a secure decide — using with the top-ranked staff earlier than the beginning of the NCAA event, straight to the highest of your Bracket Problem Sport leaderboard. In principle, selecting the No. 1 staff from the ultimate AP Prime 25 Ballot ought to imply that staff has a fantastic probability to win the NCAA event, proper? 

Properly, not precisely. It’s occurred simply twice since 2001 and solely 5 instances for the reason that event expanded to 64 groups in 1985. Granted, a type of instances was in 2024, when UConn went back-to-back and was No. 1 within the last rankings earlier than the event.

Taking a look at information from the previous 13 NCAA tournaments, taken from thousands and thousands of brackets, the staff that finishes No. 1 within the last AP ballot earlier than the event has been chosen to win all of it in roughly 1 / 4 of brackets. But solely two of these 12 groups — Kentucky in 2012 and UConn in 2024 — truly received the championship. That Kentucky staff was hardly a runaway alternative amongst bracket-pickers, too. The Wildcats had been tabbed to win all of it in solely 19.57 % of the brackets in 2012.


Faculty (file)

Picked to win championship

Picked to be upset in 1st rd.

End result

2024 UConn (31-3) 26.15% 2.35% Nationwide champion
2023 Alabama (29-5) 15.22% 2.58% Candy 16
2022 Gonzaga (26-3) 30.26% 2.28% Candy 16
2021 Gonzaga (26-0) 38.84% 1.55% Nationwide runner-up
2019 Duke (29-5) 39.12% 1.46% Elite Eight

Virginia (31-2)

16.46% 2.06% Spherical of 64
2017 Villanova (31-3) 12.25% 1.88% Spherical of 32


Kansas (30-4)



Elite Eight


Kentucky (34-0)



Closing 4


Florida (32-2)



Closing 4


Gonzaga (31-2)



Spherical of 32


Kentucky (32-2)



Nationwide champion


Ohio State (32-2)



Candy 16

The 2012 Wildcats, led by Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb, amongst others, received their six event video games by a mean of 11.83 factors (none by fewer than eight factors) on their solution to this system’s eighth nationwide title. It was the primary time since Duke in 2001 — a staff led by All-People Shane Battier and Jay Williams — {that a} staff ranked No. 1 within the last AP ballot captured the nationwide championship.

Even when selecting the AP No. 1 to win all of it is much from a assure, it’s a lot safer than selecting that staff to be upset within the first spherical. Nonetheless, round 2 % of the thousands and thousands of brackets we checked out during the last 12 NCAA tournaments did that — picked the No. 1 staff within the last AP ballot to be upset by a No. 16 seed. A pleasant reminder that solely TWO No. 16 seeds have ever overwhelmed a No. 1 seed within the historical past of the NCAA males’s basketball event: UMBC over Virginia in 2018 and FDU over Purdue in 2023.

In 2018, Virginia completed the season at No. 1 within the AP ballot, but the Cavaliers had been picked to be upset within the first spherical in 2.06 % of brackets, a record-high for the interval we examined. Positive sufficient, the Cavaliers misplaced to the Ramblers, by 20 factors no much less. Virginia turned the primary No. 1 seed to not attain the Spherical of 32 for the reason that event expanded to 64 groups in 1985. That outcome surpassed 2013 Gonzaga and 2017 Villanova for the earliest departure for an AP No. 1 previously 10 NCAA tournaments.

Lyles leads UMBC over Virginia

In 2019, AP No. 1 Duke, which entered Choice Sunday with a 29-5 regular-season file, was picked to lose to No. 16 seed North Dakota State in 1.46 % of brackets. As a substitute, the Blue Devils dealt with the Bison 85-62 to start out their run to the Elite Eight, the place Duke fell to Michigan State 68-67. That Duke staff was additionally picked in 39.12 % of brackets to win the nationwide championship, which was overwhelmingly the best share that 12 months.

So what classes are to be discovered from this? Primarily an affirmation for bracket gamers: Data — and rankings — don’t matter as a lot in March.

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