NCAA FINAL FOUR STATISTICAL HISTORY
Here’s some statistical history of the Final Four and National Championship Game.
If you’re thinking of laying the points with a big favorite in the Final Four her’s something worth considering: In the past decade there have been twenty ‘Final Four’ games. 10 have had a double digit margin of victory, 10 have had a single digit margin of victory. In the past five years, however, only 2 of the 10 games have had a double digit margin. And if you do lay the -9.5 with the Tar Heels you might be in for a ‘sweat’. Only twice in the past ten years has a Final Four game been decided by 20 or more points (2015, 2010). Of the two double digit victory margins in the past ten years are margins of 20 and 10:
2015: DUKE 81 MICHIGAN STATE 61
2014: CONNECTICUT 63 FLORIDA 53
The 2009 North Carolina Tar Heels were the only team to win a NCAA title with a 10+ point margin of victory in every game.
The largest margin of victory in the NCAA Championship Game was 30 points by the 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels:
1990: UNLV 103 DUKE 73
The 1990 UNLV victory was significant for a number of reasons. It was the only NCAA Championship ever won by the late, great Jerry Tarkanian (the NCAA did everything possible to make sure that was the case). The 1990 UNLV roster was loaded with future NBA talent including three first round draft picks (Larry Johnson, Stacy Augmon and Greg Anthony). It was also the last time a ‘non power’ major conference won the NCAA Championship. UNLV was part of the Big West Conference at the time of their championship win.
Other interesting NCAA championship game facts:
The National Championship game has been decided by one point on six different occasions—the last time this occurred was in 1989 when Michigan beat Seton Hall 80-79 in overtime. The game has gone to overtime on seven occasions, the last in 2008 when Kansas beat Memphis 75-68.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME POINTSPREAD UPSETS
Not surprisingly, there have been fewer huge upsets in the NCAA Championship game than there has been in earlier rounds. The first significant pointspread upset in a championship game during the modern era took place in 1966 when Texas Western (now the University of Texas-El Paso) beat Kentucky as a +6.5 point underdog. This Texas Western team was also significant for having the first all black starting lineup to win a NCAA basketball championship.
In 1983, North Carolina State coached by the late Jim Valvano beat Houston as a +7.5 point underdog. Kansas beat Oklahoma to win the title in 1988 as a +8 point favorite, Villanova denied Patrick Ewing and Georgetown their second NCAA title by pulling the upset as a +9 favorite in 1985. The biggest pointspread upset in the NCAA Championship Game took place in 1999 when Connecticut beat Duke as a +9.5 favorite.
The biggest upsets in the entire tournament since 1985 (when the field expanded to 64 teams) are as follows. The latest entry to the list is Middle Tennessee State’s win over Michigan State this year:
–Norfolk State +21.5 over Missouri 86–84 in 2012
–Santa Clara +19.5 over Arizona 64–61 in 1993
–Coppin State +18.5 over South Carolina 78–65 in 1997
–Hampton +17.5 over Iowa State 58–57 in 2001
–Middle Tennessee State +16.5 over Michigan State 90–81 in 2016