© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness: The History Of 1 Vs. 16 Seeds In The NCAA Tournament

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[Editorial Note (March 16, 2018): It's finally happened; 2018 was an historic March Madness. Now that 16-seed UMBC toppled 1-seed Virginia, the top-seeded teams are now 135-1 against the lowly 16-seeds.]

With all the parity that has happened in college basketball this season, the argument has been brought up if this could finally be the year a 16-seed beats a one seed. Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, sixteen seeds have a combined record of 0-112 in the first round.

Here are the 16 of the closest calls a top seed has ever had against a 16-seed. (And one honorable mention.)

  • 1985: Michigan beat Fairleigh Dickinson, 59-55
  • 1986: Duke beat Mississippi Valley State, 85-78
  • 1986: St. Johns beat Montana State, 83-74
  • 1989: Georgetown beat Princeton, 50-49
  • 1989: Oklahoma beat East Tennessee State , 72-71
  • 1989: Illinois beat McNeese State, 77-71
  • 1990: Michigan State beat Murray State, 71-51 in overtime [Honorable Mention]
  • 1990: Oklahoma beat Towson, 77-68
  • 1991: Ohio State beat Towson, 97-86
  • 1996: Purdue beat Western Carolina, 73-71
  • 1996: UConn beat Colgate, 68-59
  • 1997: North Carolina beat Fairfield, 82-74
  • 2009: Pittsburgh beat East Tennessee State, 72-62
  • 2012: Syracuse beat UNC-Asheville, 72-65
  • 2013: Gonzaga beat Southern, 64-58
  • 2013: Kansas beat Western Kentucky, 64-57
  • 2014: Arizona beat Weber State, 68-59

*Only one 16-seed has ever won a game in the men’s tournament, and 16-seeded Harvard beat top-seeded Stanford in the 1998 women’s tournament.