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For the second year in a row, Duke will start the season as No. 1. The Blue Devils will certainly have a target on their backs this year, but they’ve got something going for them as well: No preseason No. 1 has ever failed to make the NCAA tournament.

RELATED: AP Preseason Poll | Reactions

Of the 25 teams ranked in the AP poll, the No. 1 is the only position that can claim that unblemished record. Still, of the 801 teams that have been ranked in the preseason since the NCAA tournament expanded to its modern format in 1985, 83.9 percent have made the tournament.

And if a team finds itself in the Top 5, they can feel extra safe. Of the 165 teams that have been in those positions, only 10 have failed to go dancing. And yes, those that missed out include a No. 2 (Louisville went 18-14 in 1987) and No. 3 (Kentucky went 21-12 in 2013).



























Preseason rank Average seed Lowest seed Highest seed Teams that missed tournament Number of 1 seeds Percentage make tournament Champions
1 1.70 1 8 0 22 100.00% 6
2 2.67 1 10 1 14 96.97% 5
3 3.15 1 10 1 13 96.97% 4
4 4.24 1 9 3 12 90.91% 3
5 4.67 1 8 5 10 84.85% 0
6 3.91 1 9 1 6 96.97% 3
7 4.82 1 11 3 7 90.91% 2
8 4.68 1 12 1 2 97.06% 1
9 5.84 1 11 3 3 90.63% 2
10 6.06 1 11 4 3 87.88% 0
11 5.39 1 8 3 6 90.91% 1
12 7.52 1 11 6 4 81.82% 0
13 6.06 1 9 4 1 87.88% 0
14 8.12 1 11 8 1 75.76% 0
15 8.21 2 11 5 0 85.29% 0
16 8.41 1 12 6 2 81.25% 0
17 10.49 1 11 12 2 63.64% 0
18 8.45 1 12 8 1 75.76% 1
19 8.71 1 12 8 2 76.47% 1
20 8.39 2 13 7 0 78.79% 0
21 10.00 1 11 11 2 59.26% 0
22 7.39 1 10 5 2 82.14% 0
23 9.50 3 12 8 0 71.43% 0
24 9.39 1 11 9 3 67.86% 0
25 9.62 2 13 7 0 75.86% 0

But those 1-5 teams also account for 71 of the 132 1-seeds in the tournament since 1985, an average of just over two of the four every year. They’ve also accounted for 18 of the 33 national champions, though really that’s just Nos. 1-4. Teams ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll have never managed to win the title in the NCAA tournament’s modern format (sorry Kentucky).

RELATED: Even unranked teams find success in the NCAA tournament

On average, teams ranked in the preseason Top 5 don’t find themselves with lower than a 5 seed come tournament time, though No. 2 and No. 3 have been seeded as low as 10.

Then No. 1s? Well they had an 8-seed in 2014 (Kentucky, which went on to lose in the national championship game), but two thirds of all preseason No. 1s entered March Madness as a 1-seed.

So, how have they performed once the tournament starts?



































Year Preseason seed Team Final record Tournament seed Tournament finish
2017 1 Duke 28-9 2 Lost second round
2016 1 UNC 33-7 1 Lost championship game
2015 1 Kentucky 38-1 1 Lost Final Four
2014 1 Kentucky 29-11 8 Lost championship game
2013 1 Indiana 29-7 1 Lost Sweet 16
2012 1 UNC 32-6 1 Lost Elite Eight
2011 1 Duke 32-5 1 Lost Sweet 16
2010 1 Kansas 33-3 1 Lost second round
2009 1 UNC 34-4 1 Won championship
2008 1 UNC 36-3 1 Lost Final Four
2007 1 Florida 35-5 1 Won championship
2006 1 Duke 32-4 1 Lost Sweet 16
2005 1 Kansas 23-7 3 Lost first round
2004 1 UConn 33-6 2 Won championship
2003 1 Arizona 28-4 1 Lost Elite Eight
2002 1 Duke 31-4 1 Lost Sweet 16
2001 1 Arizona 28-8 2 Lost championship game
2000 1 UConn 25-10 5 Lost second round
1999 1 Duke 37-2 1 Lost championship game
1998 1 Arizona 30-5 1 Lost Elite Eight
1997 1 Cincinnati 26-8 3 Lost second round
1996 1 Kentucky 34-2 1 Won championship
1995 1 Arkansas 32-7 2 Lost championship game
1994 1 UNC 28-7 1 Lost second round
1993 1 Michigan 31-5 1 Lost championship game
1992 1 Duke 34-2 1 Won championship
1991 1 UNLV 34-1 1 Lost Final Four
1990 1 UNLV 35-5 1 Won championship
1989 1 Duke 28-8 2 Lost Final Four
1988 1 Syracuse 26-9 3 Lost second round
1987 1 UNC 32-4 1 Lost Elite Eight
1986 1 Georgia Tech 27-7 2 Lost Sweet 16
1985 1 Georgetown 35-3 1 Lost championship game

Preseason No. 1s have made it to the national championship 13 times since 1985, but only six of the 33 preseason No 1s have won the title bout (though that is more than any other preseason rank). The most recent of those came in 2009, when UNC went 34-4 and beat Michigan State for the crown.

But almost half (16 of 33) of the preseason No. 1s have failed to make it out of their regional, losing before the Final Four, so starting the year as top dog does not guarantee a trip to the national semifinals.

Still, it’s definitely not a bad place to be.

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