Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 57 No. 1 seeds to reach the Final Four. That means an average of 1.62 teams each year are No. 1 seeds.
The NCAA started seeding the field in 1979, and since then we’ve seen some pretty memorable games when two No. 1 seeds get together to determine the national champion. In 41 years, tonight’s game between Baylor and Gonzaga will be the ninth time it’s happened.
So what happens when two No. 1 seeds face off for the national championship? We’ve got the list of the previous top seed vs. top seed battles below.
1982: North Carolina vs. Georgetown
The first two games on this list are going to be more remembered for a massive mistake than a great play. Although Tar Heels freshman Michael Jordan hit a huge midrange jumper with 15 seconds left to take the lead 63-62, The Hoyas Freddy Brown making a pass to James Worthy (who was not on his team) as the clock ran down is what this game is remembered for.
1993: North Carolina vs. Michigan
With Michigan trailing 73-71, Chris Webber grabbed a rebound and then walked (blatantly, like really badly... but the refs missed it). Then he for some reason dribbled to the corner and called timeout when Michigan didn’t have any timeouts. The resulting technical foul gave UNC two free throws, which iced the championship.
1999 Duke vs. UConn
Khalid El-Amin’s massively clutch free throws to give the Huskies a 77-74 lead with 5.7 seconds left were the difference, as Trajan Langdon couldn’t get a shot off coming the other way. It’s the game that laid the foundation for the Huskies program, which has won four total men’s championships since. It was also the first Final Four hosted in a stadium that was home to a Major League Baseball team, and had been home to an NHL team too.
2005 Illinois vs. North Carolina
Luther Head got a great look from three, but it was just a smidge too far and Carolina was able to ice the game at the free throw line for a 75-70 win. It was the first of three titles for Roy Williams at UNC after following in the footsteps of his mentor Dean Smith at his alma mater.
2007 Ohio State vs. Florida
The second of two titles under Billy Donovan, the team that decided to bring everyone back for one more run was the first No. 1 vs. No. 1 game to not come down to the wire. The Gators were 84-75 winners, and the Gator team led by Taurean Green, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, and Joakim Noah repeated as champions.
2008 Kansas vs. Memphis
Derrick Rose left the door open by only make one of two free throws to give Memphis the 73-70 lead, but then Mario Chalmers answered with one of the most memorable shots in the history of college basketball. KU would win in overtime, and Bill Self would get his national championship at Kansas.
Also according to the NCAA this game never happened. But then why do they always show it in every highlight reel?
2015 Wisconsin vs. Duke
Jahlil Okafor only played one season in Durham, but it couldn’t have gone much better. The Blue Devils knocked off the only Wisconsin Final Four team under Bo Ryan 68-63 to claim the fifth title for Mike Krzyzweski. When Duke fans try to tell you how they don’t like one-and-done players and how Coach K does it the right way, remind them of this.
2017 Gonzaga vs. North Carolina
There are no Bulldogs on this current team that were on the roster the last time Gonzaga made the title game. This one was tied with two minutes to go, but a huge runner in the lane from Isaiah Hicks with 25 seconds left gave the Heels a three-point lead they would never relinquish before winning 71-65. UNC was just 4-27 from three-point range, but managed to escape with the trophy.