Mario Chalmers makes a last-second shot as KU wins the NCAA tournament in 2008 | Streeter Lecka | GettyImages

March Madness 2022 Analysis: The Odds of Winning a National Championship

Millions of people in the United States and across the world tune in to watch the NCAA men’s basketball tournament every year in March. As much as many people don’t want to hear it; the odds that your favorite team wins an NCAA basketball championship are very slim. This is an in-depth look at just how difficult it can be.

The Initial Odds

In NCAA D1 men’s basketball there are currently roughly 358 schools competing. There are 32 conferences competing. Per NCAA rules, the conference tournament winner of each conference receives an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, which is compromised of 64 total teams. This is roughly 18% of all D1 teams.

March Madness | Zac Al-Khateeb | The Sporting News

All time, 36 out of 358 eligible basketball teams have never played in the NCAA tournament. There are currently eight schools that are not eligible until they complete a transitional period from D2 to D1 over four years.

Sweet 16 Odds

Sweet 16 Seedings since 1985 (As of 2021) | Joe Boozell |

Obviously, it is tough for lower seeds to ever see a shot at the Sweet 16. This year St. Peter’s made history as the third 15-seed to ever make the Sweet 16. Kentucky currently has the most Sweet 16 appearances with 44, followed by North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, and Duke.

Since 1985 and as of 2022, 112 schools have made the Sweet 16, or just 31.28% of all D1 schools.

Paolo Banchero and the #2 seed Duke Blue Devils are looking to advance to the Elite 8 if they beat Texas Tech on March 24, 2022 | Grant Halverson | Getty Images

Final Four Odds

All time, #1 seeds have accounted for 40.48% of all Final 4 contenders. The same five schools that I mentioned before are in the top five for most Final 4 appearances. Only 47 different schools have made the Final 4 since 1985.

Final Four contenders by seeding and their performances since 1985 | Eric Vander Voort |

It’s astonishing to see that no team seeded under a #8 seed has ever won a National Championship. There has only been one time where all #1 seeds have made the final four; 2008.

Championship Odds

#1 seeds have won 23 out of the last 36 championship games or 63.89% of all winners since 1985. Only 4 out of the last 36 championship have been won by 4 seeds or worse, or only 11.1% of all champions during this span. 19 different schools have won the NCAA basketball championship since 1985, or 5.3% of all D1 basketball schools. UCLA leads all schools with 11 championships all time.

Villanova won the National Championship in 2019 | Robert Deutsch | Reuters

A very small percentage of NCAA D1 men’s basketball teams will ever get the chance to compete in a game of this caliber, that’s why it is so incredible when lower-seeded teams make deep runs in the tournament, because it happens quite often.




Letters from a Sports Fan is sports viewed through the perspective of fans. Soak up all the passion, pride, and bitter disappointment of being a sports fan.

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Ty Thomas

Ty Thomas

Marketing Student at Colorado State University - Sports Analyst - NBA Twitter: @jokerszn15

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