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What is the worst seed to ever win March Madness?

We take a look at the lowest seed to ever go the distance and win the NCAA Tournament.

A Villanova Wildcats fan wears a shirt that refers to 1985 during the second half against the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 Men’s NCAA tournament will get started on Tuesday, March 14 with the First Four play-in games. Once those wrap up, the 64-team field will be set, and the first round will begin on Thursday, March 16. This tournament has an “anything can happen” vibe to it, as we have seen crazy upsets in the past.

When you look at the history of the tournament, though, 32 teams are practically already out of championship contention, as no team with a 9-seed or lower has ever won the NCAA Tournament. Furthermore, only one 8-seed has ever won the championship since the tournament field expanded in 1985. The Villanova Wildcats cut down the nets as an 8-seed that year.

The Wildcats almost saw their tournament hopes dashed early. They took on Dayton in the first round and escaped with a 51-49 victory. Villanova advanced past No. 1 Michigan by four points in the second round. The Wildcats escaped their Sweet 16 matchup with a three-point win over No. 5 Maryland. They took down No. 2 North Carolina in the Elite Eight and No. 2 Memphis State in the Final Four. Villanova capped off their championship run with a 66-64 win over No. 1 Georgetown to cut down the nets.

It is tough enough for 8-seeds to get to the second round as they are 72-76 against 9-seeds in the first round. Then, if they win and advance, it usually results in a matchup with the No. 1 seed. A No. 8 seed has made the national title game three times. Villanova won in 1985, Kentucky fell to No. 7 UConn in 2014 and No. 8 UNC lost to No. 1 Arizona in 2022.