Does the difference between a 1-seed and a 2-seed matter?

Is your favorite men’s college basketball team in contention for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament? Are you guarding your sanity by telling yourself that it really doesn’t matter if your team gets a 1-seed or a 2-seed? Well, go ahead and fret, friend, because it does matter.

Before we get into why the difference matters, I have to first speak some truth into your life with love: If you’re relying on the AP and Coaches Polls to determine where your team is going to be seeded come Tournament time, you’re doing it wrong. The media and coaches polls matter as much to college basketball as the points in Whose Line is it Anyway. Not only do they have zero impact on the crowning of the national champion, they’re not even considered by the all-important folks sending out the save-the-dates come March.

Nope. The only thing that matters in college basketball is getting into the Big Dance and getting a cushy spot in the bracket. And that’s not determined by the polls, but by the Selection Committee and the NET Rankings.

Do 1-seeds do any better in the Tournament than 2-seeds?

So how important is it for fans to root for a No. 1 seed?

Pretty important, as it turns out. Here’s a look at the seeds of the winners, the runners-up, and other Final Four participants since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985:

And here’s how all of that data breaks down into categories:

Whoa. A full 63% of the winners were No. 1 seeds, and there’s a huge drop off for 2-seeds, who won the whole enchilada only 14% of the time. The advantage of seeding for the rest of the Final Four field isn’t quite as pronounced, but it’s there, and it’s significant.

Sure, every once in a while some 11-seed will crash the party with a scrappy nun in tow and scare the pants off everybody, but usually, the final weekend features the No Surprises All-Star team. And more often than not, the team cutting down the net in April is one that was sitting pretty on the top line on Selection Sunday.

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