This is the seventh time in the past 28 years that the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game has matched a number one and a number two seed. In fact, the one-two matchup is the most common championship game since the 64 team format began in 1985. The first time a number one seed faced a number two seed in the final game second seeded Louisville defeated Duke in 1986. (Louisville had a higher Ratings Percentage Index). Since then the number one seed has won five straight championship games against number two seeds and six of eight games against teams seeded third or lower.
Number one and number two seeds have met 54 times in the past 28 years of March Madness. 48 of these match-ups were in the regional finals and the national semi-final games. In these 48 games number one seeds won exactly half of the games. So far this year, a number one seed has not defeated a number two seed, but second seeded Ohio State and Kansas defeated top seeded Syracuse and North Carolina in the regional finals.
The number one seeds that advance to the championship game, however, appear to be the strongest teams playing the best basketball in March. Since Georgetown’s loss to Villanova and Duke’s loss to Louisville, a number one seed has won 85% of championship games against lower seeded opponents. Look for Kentucky to continue this trend and defeat Kansas by 6 to 7 points, the average margin of victory in championship games between one and two seeds.