There are plenty of reasons to tune into the NCAA Tournament every year, but the amount of chaos we’re typically treated to on an annual basis is easily one of the most intriguing aspects of March Madness.
After all, there’s a reason no one has even come close to picking a perfect bracket, as all of the basketball knowledge in the world can’t cancel out the unpredictable nature of an event where wild upsets and unexpected heartbreak have historically reigned supreme.
The Big Dance certainly lived up to that reputation in 2023.
March Madness kicked off with a bang after Fairleigh Dickinson shocked the world to pull off the most shocking upset in the history of college basketball at the expense of Purdue, and it didn’t take long for virtually every bracket in existence to get busted thanks to what unfolded in the ensuing games and rounds.
The 2023 Final Four marks the first time no one, two, or three-seed will be represented in the semifinal round, and it’s honestly impressive that six different people who took part in the NCAA’s bracket challenge were able to successfully predict Miami, UConn, San Diego State, and, FAU would be the four teams remaining when everything was said and done.
It would be foolish to describe any of those teams as “bad” when you consider how far they’ve been able to advance, but it made me wonder if that quartet collectively comprises what is theoretically the “worst” Final Four we’ve been treated to since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
What Final Four featured the lowest-seeded teams in March Madness?
In 1986, LSU became the first eleven-seed to advance to the second-to-last round in the tournament, and the Tigers are currently one of the five squads that have managed to achieve that feat (as of this writing, no team ranked lower has been able to make it as far).
The most recent school to do so was UCLA in 2021, and it’s safe to say the Bruins were a bit of an outlier when you consider the three remaining teams were second-seed Houston and top-seeded Baylor and Gonzaga.
VCU was also able to defy the odds in 2011, and they were far from the only one that was able to do so. That year, No. 3 UConn was technically the cream of the crop, which also included No. 4 Kentucky and No. 8 Butler.
That year remains the “worst” Final Four we’ve been treated to so far based on the average seed. Prior to that year, the 2000 NCAA Tournament had set the bar (Michigan State, Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina had a mean of 5.5), but the 2011 lineup firmly beat that number with a 6.5 average.
The 5.75 average featured in the 2023 Final Four makes it the second-lowest in tournament history, and while recent trends suggest we could see a new nadir in coming years, 2011 remains the low water mark.