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Lowest Seeds to Win the Men's College Basketball Tournament

In most College Basketball Tournaments, there are no shortage of upsets. But an underdog going all the way and taking the title is a rare occurrence.

Underdogs may be able to take out a big name along the way, but winning six consecutive games in on the biggest stage in college basketball is a tall task for any team, let alone one with inferior talent and resources. Generally, the teams who were consistently ranked among the nation's best during the regular season are able to triumph in the tournament. 

The stats reflect this. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, a one-seed has won 24 of the 38, while nine of the other winners have been two- or three-seeds.

No. 8 Villanova (1985)

The lowest seed to win the tournament is Villanova, who completed one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport by seeing off the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas 66-64 in the championship game back in 1985.

The Wildcats had made a positive start to the season, losing just three of their first 16 games, but they limped over the finish line going 5-5 over their last 10 games and then lost in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. They entered the NCAA tournament as an 8-seed.

What followed is one of the greatest Cinderella stories in basketball history as Villanova took out Dayton, the region’s 1-seed Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina and Memphis State to set up the showdown with the Hoyas, who were the defending champions and the top seed in the East region.

Two years earlier, NC State won the tournament as a 6-seed, a huge shock, but Villanova’s success in 1985 eclipsed that.

No. 7 Connecticut (2014)

Connecticut had pulled off a major upset to win the men's tournament as a 3-seed in 2011, and three years later they were back in the championship game, this time as a 7-seed.

The Huskies claimed the title by seeing off 8-seed Kentucky in the championship game, meaning it was the first ever national championship not to include at least one 1, 2, or 3 seed, and just the third not to include a 1 or 2 seed.

Both teams had produced upsets in the Final Four as Uconn defeated 1-seed Florida and Kentucky overcame 2-seed Wisconsin. The Huskies went on to down the Wildcats in the national championship.

No. 6 Kansas (1988)

Only one top seed from the first five years of the 64-team format secured the title - Indiana in 1987. In 1988, Kansas Jayhawks went all the way as a 6-seed.

The Jayhawks fell in the semifinals of their conference tournament to Kansas State, then got revenge in the Elite Eight before seeing off Duke to reach the championship game, where they overcame Oklahoma 83-79.

No. 6 NC State (1983)

NC State entered the 1983 tournament as a 6-seed, considered an underdog. They weren't a dominant team during the regular season, finishing with a 26-10 record.

The Wolfpack pulled off a series of upsets against heavily favored teams, including the #1 seed in their region, Virginia, led by superstar Ralph Sampson.

In the title game, NC State faced the Houston Cougars, nicknamed "Phi Slama Jama" for their high-flying, dunking style. Houston featured future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. With seconds remaining and the score tied, NC State guard Dereck Whittenburg hoisted deep shot that was going to be an air ball, sending the game to overtime.

But teammate Lorenzo Charles leaped, grabbed the ball out of the air, and slammed it home as time expired, giving NC State an improbable 54-52 victory.

No. 4 Arizona (1997)

Arizona emerged triumphant in 1997 as a 4-seed before a 16-year run where the winner was either a 1, 2 or 3 seed – before Uconn’s 2014 success.

The Wildcats stunned Southeast regional top-seed Kansas in the Sweet 16 and they were the only team who were not a 1-seed in the Final Four that year.

Arizona claimed an eight-point win over North Carolina to secure a place in the championship game, where they overcame Kentucky Wildcats 84-79 to become national champions.

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