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What is the lowest seed to make Final Four in NCAA Tournament?

by MD Samsuzzaman Siyam

It may seem strange that a team with such an illustrious history as UCLA’s could ever be considered one of the NCAA Tournament’s best Cinderella stories.

But that’s exactly the scenario for Mick Cronin’s 2020-21 Bruins team.

With an Elite Eight win over 1-seed Michigan in Tuesday’s East Region final, 11-seed UCLA tied the March Madness record for the lowest seed to make the Final Four. There, they will face West Region champion — and top overall NCAA Tournament seed — Gonzaga for the right to play in the national championship.

That’s not even the most astounding part of the Bruins’ run to the Final Four; they also join the 2010-11 VCU squad as the only teams to advance all the way to the national semifinal from the First Four. The Bruins’ 2021 Final Four berth came at the cost of defeating five teams: Fellow First Four team Michigan State (86-80 in overtime); 6-seed BYU (73-62); 14-seed Abilene Christian (67-47); 2-seed Alabama (88-78, in overtime); and 1-seed Michigan (51-49).

MORE MARCH MADNESS: Live scores | Updated bracket | TV schedule

Unfortunately for the Bruins — or fortunately, considering they had to win their previous five tournament games — history is against Cronin and Co. No team lower than an 8 seed has ever advanced beyond the Final Four, and only one such team has ever won it all (Villanova’s 1984-85 team, which beat Georgetown 66-64 in the final).

Several teams have tried it since 2000, but all have fallen — some harder than others — in the penultimate round of the NCAA Tournament. Can UCLA break that trend and become the greatest Cinderella story ever? Or will the Bruins succumb to history at the hand of Gonzaga’s overpowered team?

Either way, we can’t wait to watch their attempt. With that, here’s a breakdown of every seed 8 or lower that has made it to the Final Four, and their final NCAA Tournament result:

HISTORY OF UPSETS BY SEED:
15 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5

Lowest Final Four seeds in NCAA Tournament

Seed Teams Final results
8 Villanova (1985) National championship win (66-64 over Georgetown)
  North Carolina (2000) Final Four loss (71-59 to Florida)
  Wisconsin (2000) Final Four loss (53-41 to Michigan State)
  Butler (2011) National championship loss (53-41 to UConn)
  Kentucky (2014) National championship loss (60-54 to UConn)
9 Wichita State (2013) Final Four loss (72-68 to Louisville)
10 Syracuse (2016) Final Four loss (83-66 to North Carolina)
11 LSU (1986) Final Four loss (88-77 to Louisville)
  George Mason (2006) Final Four loss (73-58 to Florida)
  VCU (2011) Final Four loss (70-62 to Butler)
  Loyola Chicago (2018) Final Four loss (69-57 to Michigan)
  UCLA (2021) vs. Gonzaga

How many times has UCLA been to the Final Four?

Year Final result
1962 Wake Forest 82, UCLA 80 (national third-place game)
1964 UCLA 98, Duke 83 (national championship)
1965 UCLA 91, Michigan 80 (national championship)
1967 UCLA 79, Dayton 64 (national championship)
1968 UCLA 78, North Carolina 55 (national championship)
1969 UCLA 92, Purdue 72 (national championship)
1970 UCLA 80, Jacksonville 69 (national championship)
1971 UCLA 68, Villanova 62 (national championship)
1972 UCLA 81, Florida State 76 (national championship)
1973 UCLA 87, Memphis 66 (national championship)
1974 UCLA 78, Kansas 61 (national third-place game)
1975 UCLA 82, Kentucky 85 (national championship)
1976 UCLA 106, Rutgers 92 (national third-place game)
1980 Louisville 59, UCLA 54 (national championship)
1995 UCLA 89, Arkansas 78 (national championship)
2006 Florida 73, UCLA 57 (national championship)
2007 Florida 76, UCLA 66 (Final Four)
2008 Memphis 78, UCLA 64 (Final Four)
2021 vs. Gonzaga



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