With Ohio State’s dramatic win over Arizona last night, I’m certain many of you are asking this question: Who else has played only 6 seeds or worse en route to a possible Final Four? As usual, I have the statistical research for the answer today.
Dating back to the start of the 64-team bracket style in 1985, there have been 116 regions including this year. Out of those 116 regional winners that then advanced to the Final Four, Ohio State would be the 11th winner that didn’t play a top-5 seed. Thus, on average, it occurs about every three years. Here’s the list thus far:
|Year||Region||Seed||Team||W #1||W #2||W #3||W #4||Result?|
|1991||E. Rutherford||1||N. Carolina||16||9||12||10||Final 4|
|2001||Atlanta||1||Mich. State||16||9||12||11||Final 4|
I had previously tweeted that Kansas in 2008 was the last such team to accomplish this feat. Their most difficult opponent was a No. 8 seed in the second round, then won in the all 1-seed Final Four. Two other teams — 1991 North Carolina and 2001 Michigan State — didn’t play any teams ranked better than No. 9.
Oddly enough, these teams then went 7-3 in the national semifinals, followed by 3-4 in the championship game. Those numbers obviously are slightly better than just average.
Of course, many high-ranked seeds lost to low seeds en route to their hopeful Final Fours. So these are just the 10 success stories against easy schedules in the first 28 years of the 64-team bracket style.
Ohio State still has one difficult task en route to their second straight Final Four — that’s No. 9 Wichita State, the same one that took down No. 1 Gonzaga last weekend. The Shockers are now ranked #20 in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings and already had impressive wins over VCU and Creighton during the regular season.