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Seven equals one

Despite losses, Spartans earn unprecendented top seed

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Posted: Friday March 24, 2000 04:57 AM

  Mateen Cleaves Mateen Cleaves and the Spartans earned a No. 1 seed last year with a 29-4 record. Andy Lyons/Allsport

By Ryan Hunt,

To earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, a team has to have quite a record. For Michigan State, however, it indeed is quite a record.

The Spartans won their final five games, including the Big Ten tournament championship, to become the first top seed in NCAA tournament history with seven losses.

Arizona, meanwhile, earned the No. 1 seed in the West region with six regular-season losses.

Prior to this year, only three teams have earned a No. 1 seed despite having six losses -- Georgetown in 1982 and North Carolina in 1994 and '97 -- since the NCAA Tournament began seeding teams in 1979. And only 12 others entered the Big Dance with five defeats.

No. 1 with Some Losses
No. 1 seeds in NCAA Tournament with most losses
Year  Team  Record  Finish 
2000  Michigan State  26-7  ???? 
2000  Arizona  26-6  ???? 
1997  North Carolina  22-6  Final 4 
1994  North Carolina  27-6  Sweet 16 
1982  Georgetown  26-6  Finals 
1996  Purdue  25-5  Second Rd. 
1995  Wake Forest  24-5  Sweet 16 
1995  Kansas  23-5  Sweet 16 
1992  Ohio State  23-5  Elite 8 
1991  North Carolina  25-5  Final 4 
1990  UNLV  29-5  National Champ 
1990  Connecticut  28-5  Elite 8 
1990  Michigan State  26-5  Sweet 16 
1989  Oklahoma  28-5  Sweet 16 
1985  Oklahoma  28-5  Elite 8 
1980  Kentucky  28-5  Sweet 16 
1980  Louisiana St.  24-5  Elite 8 

History hasn't been too kind to No. 1 seeds with five or more losses.

Of the 15 top seeds with five or more losses, only four advanced to the Final Four. And only UNLV won the national title (1990, when the Rebels were 29-5 entering the NCAAs.

But, then again, that 1990 tournament was one of the most competitive.

In 1990, three of the four top seeds had five losses entering the tournament. Oklahoma (26-4) was the lone exception. And in that tournament, there were only six teams that had four or fewer losses.

This year's tournament has only five -- top seeds Duke and Stanford, No. 2 seeds Cincinnati and Iowa State and seventh-seeded Tulsa.

Related information
Home-court streaks just aren't made like they used to be
AP Top 25 Poll
No surprise here, as Michigan State takes top billing in the Midwest. (1.49 M)
Stanford gets shipped off to the South, but sneaks in as a No. 1 seed. (2.08 M)
Arizona stays close to home, as the No. 1 seed in the West. (1.45 M)
Coach K's Blue Devils undoubtably received the first invitation to the Big Dance.
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