CLEVELAND —- Received an excellent question on Twitter this afternoon about whether close margins in the first round/round of 64 of the NCAA tournament is a disqualifier for winning a title.
Unsurprisingly, only three eventual national champions since 1985 —- 1985 Villanova, 1989 Michigan and 1997 Arizona —- won their first-round game by single digits.
Of the 26 champions in that stretch, 17 won by at least 20 points.
And of the last six, all won their openers by at least 24 points.
Obviously, most eventual champs are No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, so they naturally have an easier draw and are set up to blow out an opponent. It’s worth observing that ‘85 Nova (No. 8), ‘89 Michigan (No. 3) and ‘97 Arizona (No. 4) were not on the top two lines.
Is it particularly meaningful for this year’s tournament? Well, Kentucky just squeaked past Princeton, so maybe the most ardent of Big Blue Nation supporters has reason to worry.
The only team seeded third or better in its region to complete play today is Pittsburgh, which beat UNC Asheville by 23 points.
—- Patrick Stevens