The 2023 men’s NCAA tournament will get underway on Tuesday, March 14 with the first four play-in games. The first round of the tournament will officially begin on Thursday, March 16. For the teams in the top of regional seeding, teams given the No. 8 seed will have the toughest matchup on paper against the No. 9 seeds.
Since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 8 teams have beaten No. 9 seeds in 72 of the 148 first-round matchups. This being just below 50% shows how tough this matchup historically is. Still, there have been multiple national championship game appearances by No. 8 seeds. Kentucky and UNC have both advanced to the title game as an 8-seed but came up short. No. 8 Villanova in 1985, the year the field expanded to 64 teams, won the National Championship and remain the lowest seed ever to win the championship game.
Last year’s No. 8 seeds struggled against their No. 9 seed counterparts. San Diego State, Boise State and Seton Hall all fell in the first round. North Carolina dominated Marquette 95-63 to advance. They then upset No. 1 Baylor and No. 4 UCLA in the next two rounds. The Tar Heels then ended the Cinderella story for No. 15 St. Peter’s. Arguably the team's best win of the tournament came against Coach K’s last game coaching for Duke in the Final Four and the 81-77 upset win. The luck ran out in the end, though, as UNC fell to No. 1 Kansas by only three points in the championship game.
2023 NCAA Tournament No. 8 seeds