In the NCAA Tournament, everyone loves an underdog, especially when underdogs defeat March Madness Number 1 Seeds. More often than we realize, top seeds lose in the first or second rounds, but only two No. 16 seeds have upset a No. 1, this includes FDU taking down Purdue this season, and UMBC defeating Virginia back in 2018.

Here are some of the worst showings by No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament’s history, whether they were overrated or underwhelming. chronological sequence is used.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: North Carolina (1979)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: North Carolina (1979)

At North Carolina, Dean Smith coached a number of outstanding teams that won two titles and advanced 11 times to the Final Four. With a 23-5 record and the top seed in the NCAA Tournament in 1978–79, Smith’s Tar Heels were the first team to seed the entire field. However, despite having a first-round bye, Carolina lost to upstart Penn 72-71, who went on to lose to eventual champion Michigan State in the Final Four. Anthony Price and the Quakers were able to shoot 51.8 percent thanks to the Tar Heels.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: DePaul (1980)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: DePaul (1980)

The future looked promising for the DePaul program after they made it to the Final Four in 1979 with a group that was still quite young. Conversely, the NCAA Tournament in the early 1980s turned out to be something of a nightmare for the Blue Demons and their great coach Ray Meyer. DePaul won its first 25 games in the 1979–80 season before falling to Notre Dame in late February. The top-seeded Blue Demons, who featured future NBA stars Mark Aguirre and Terry Cummings, shot just 40.5 percent and gave up 43 points to UCLA in their opening-round loss in the NCAA Tournament, 77-71.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: DePaul (1981)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: DePaul (1981) 

The Blue Demons are back, indeed. DePaul entered the 1981 tournament ranked first in the country with a record of 27-1. Nineteenth-seeded Saint Joseph’s, which needed to defeat No. 8 seed Creighton in the first round by a margin of one point to remain alive, awaited in its opening game. DePaul shot 51.2 percent against the Hawks, but the aforementioned Mark Aguirre and Terry Cummings were restricted to a combined 14 points, allowing the Hawks to win 49-48 thanks to a last-second basket by John Smith and a 56.1 percent shooting effort.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: Oregon State (1981)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: Oregon State (1981)

At the 1981 NCAA Tournament, DePaul wasn’t the only No. 1 seed to lose in its opening game — on the same day. Prior to those NCAA Tournament appearances at Oregon State being nullified due to violations, “The Orange Express” teams of the early 1980s were very exceptional. Like DePaul, this squad from 1980–81 won a No. 1 seed but was defeated by a last-second shot. After trailing by 11 points in the second half, Kansas State shocked the Beavers by defeating them 50-48 on Rolando Blackman’s tie-breaking jump shot with two seconds left in the game.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: DePaul (1982)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: DePaul (1982) 

We swear this is the last time we’ll harp about DePaul’s lack of success in tournaments as a top seed. The Blue Demons entered the 1982 tournament with a 26-1 record and a 21-game winning streak. DePaul’s Terry Cummings had 20 points and 17 rebounds, but the second-round underdog Boston College had no clear defensive answer for the favorites as they defeated them 82-75 by shooting 53.7 percent and making a huge 42 free throws. In this game, five Blue Demons fouled out.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: Michigan (1985)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: Michigan (1985) 

This Michigan team from 1984–1985 had a ton of talent, including Roy Tarpley, Gary Grant, and Antoine Joubert. The Wolverines were the No. 2 team in the nation and the Big Ten champions. Yet when it came time for the NCAA Tournament, top-seeded Michigan struggled to get going. Coach Bill Frieder’s Wolverines lost to eventual national champion Villanova in the second round after shooting 51.0 percent, 59-55, and barely defeating Farleigh Dickinson in their tournament opener.

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: St. John’s (1986)

March Madness Number 1 Seeds: St. John’s (1986)

This Lou Carnesecca team won 31 games, won the Big East championship, and was on the verge of making the Final Four for the second straight year. Regrettably, that did not occur for St. John’s. St. John’s was trounced by eighth-seeded Auburn in the second half, losing 81-65 after opening its tournament by defeating Montana by just nine points despite shooting 57.4 percent. In order to defeat St. John’s, the Tigers shot 53.0 percent, had a massive 38-22 lead on the glass, and forced 16 turnovers.

Oklahoma (1990)

This Oklahoma team, led by Skeeter Henry, won its first 12 games to finally secure the No. 1 seed for the third time in a row. This group of teams did not advance past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, unlike the prior two teams. Even with four losses coming into the competition, the Sooners had every right to hold the top seed. Nevertheless, Billy Tubbs’ team only defeated Towson State in the first round by a score of nine, and in the round of 32, they lost to Rick Fox and North Carolina by a score of two.

Michigan State (1990)

One more from the 1990 competition. To be fair to the Spartans, they did make it to the Sweet 16, but the journey there was anything but simple. They defeated Murray State in overtime in the first round before eking out a 62-58 victory over No. 9 seed UC Santa Barbara. The fourth-seeded Georgia Tech team, who advanced to the Final Four, defeated Michigan State 81-80 in double overtime in the regional semifinals.

Kansas (1992)

The Jayhawks won the Big Eight championship but dropped three of their final nine games in the regular season before taking first place in the conference tournament. That undoubtedly gave Kansas momentum as the top seed, and it started the tournament by crushing Howard 100–67. The excitement would come to an end, though, as Kansas shot just 42.6 percent and couldn’t get past No. 9 seed UTEP in the second round, losing 66-60 in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

North Carolina (1994)

Carolina entered the 1994 Big Dance with six losses. Rasheed Wallace, Eric Montrose, and the rest of the team, though, ought to have been strong enough to remain in the competition for a long. The Tar Heels, however, were only successful until the second round. In that game, Boston College, the No. 9 seed, defeated North Carolina 75-72. Both teams shot below 40%, and the favorite had 14 turnovers, which led to an early exit.

Purdue (1996)

When the Boilermakers dropped their final regular-season game at Iowa, they had an 11-game winning streak. That might have been a sign for the NCAA Tournament. Although Purdue had the top seed in the West Region, they opened the tournament by just outlasting Western Carolina, 73-71. Unfortunately for Coach Gene Keady’s Boilers, No. 8 seed Georgia shot nearly 49 percent and led by 13 at halftime of a shocking 76-69 victory in the second round.

Arizona (2000)

Two members of the current Pac-12 Conference did not do well in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Arizona is the co-league champion, so let’s start there. Gilbert Arenas, Michael Wright, and the Wildcats were given the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament despite splitting their final four regular-season games and bringing six losses with them. They only made it through two rounds before losing their second game, 66-59, to troublesome eighth-seeded Wisconsin.

Stanford (2000)

The Cardinal were another No. 1 seed from the Pac-12 (then known as the Pac-10) to do poorly in the Big Dance in 2000. Prior to dropping consecutive games to UCLA and the aforementioned Arizona Wildcats and winning the last game of the regular season, Stanford was 25-1. Casey Jacobsen, Mark Madsen, and the Cardinal defeated North Carolina, which entered the tournament with 13 losses but made it to the Final Four, 60-53 despite shooting 34.5 percent in that game.

Kentucky (2004)

To their defense, only one No. 1 seed made it to the Final Four in this tournament. Without a star player, the Wildcats entered the competition with five losses. They defeated Florida A&M by 20 points in their opening game. The No. 9 seed UAB was next in the second round. Kentucky had 16 mistakes and couldn’t quite make up for a nine-point halftime deficit to prevent the surprise.

Kansas (2010)

The Jayhawks, who were led by Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, entered the 2010 NCAA Tournament with a record of 32-2 and the No. 1 overall seed. They were unable to survive the opening weekend, hence they are on this list. After disposing of Lehigh to start the tournament, Kansas played a key role in one of the biggest upsets in Big Dance history. Northern Iowa, the ninth-seeded team, defeated Kansas 69-67 in the second round thanks to Ali Farokhmanesh’s game-winning stroke in the final second. A No. 1 seed lost in the round of 32 for the first time in six seasons.

Pittsburgh (2011)

Pitt received the top seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament after suffering five losses. Also, it followed a defeat to underdog Connecticut (the eventual national champion) in the Big East tournament opener. The Panthers defeated UNC Asheville to win the opening game of the Big Dance, but Butler, another underdog on a tear, shocked them 71-70 in the second round. Since that loss, Pitt’s record in NCAA Tournament games is 1-3.

Gonzaga (2013)

During the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga has occasionally fallen short of expectations. Possibly none more so than the 2013 competition. Even though the Zags were 31-2, many college basketball analysts didn’t think they deserved a top seed because they had a 1-2 regular-season record versus rated opposition. These critiques were proven to be correct. In its first game, Gonzaga battled to defeat Southern University 64–58. In the Round of 32, Gonzaga lost to Wichita State 76–70 while shooting 35.6 percent and committing 13 turnovers.

Xavier (2018)

The 2018 NCAA Tournament featured a significant upset of a No. 1 seed, which college basketball fans are aware of (we’ll get there), but there was also another in the same competition. despite not being nearly as memorable. Xavier was able to secure a No. 1 seed despite not taking home the Big East championship with a record of 29-5. The Musketeers defeated Texas Southern in the first round before losing to Florida State’s bench in the second round, 75-70. A not all that shocking outcome.

Virginia (2018)

It’s unfair to claim that Virginia wasn’t deserving of receiving the top seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers got defeated by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)  in the first round despite winning 31 games and allowing 54 points per game. The Retrievers defeated Virginia 74-54 by shooting an absurd 54.2 percent, capped by 12 3-pointers, to become the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1.


Thank you for reading this article on the most disappointing March Madness Number 1 Seeds, best of luck with your NCAA Tournament action!