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Since the NCAA started seeding teams for the annual basketball tournament in 1979, the five seed has made it to the Final Four only seven times. Of those, only two have made the Championship and neither of those teams, Florida in 2000, and Indiana in 2002, won the title game.

This year, a five seed is guaranteed to make the title game as Midwest Regional Champion Michigan State takes on West Regional Champion Butler. As improbable as it seems that two 5s would make the Final Four, it is not the lowest pair of seeds to make it to the last weekend.

That honor goes to eighth-seeded Wisconsin and eighth-seeded North Carolina in 2000. Both lost their Final Four match-ups (Wisconsin to number-one seed and eventual champion, Michigan State; North Carolina to number five seed Florida,) but the run they made through the tournament was a prime example of why people love March Madness.

Wisconsin, a team some people called boring and ugly, exemplified the “anything is possible” aura of the tournament. Their talent was mediocre but they overachieved in the tournament with their slow tempo and suffocating defense that allowed them to overcome more talented teams and keep on winning.

Mike Kelley/AP Photo

The Badgers took out #9 Fresno State, #1 Arizona, #4 LSU and #6 Purdue behind players like G Mike Kelley, who shut down just about everyone he faced, and G Jon Bryant, who seemed to hit every shot he took, (until he couldn’t get an open look against Michigan State.) Teams not used to their style of play really struggled. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, they ran into a conference foe who knew their style in-and-out and had already beaten them three times.

North Carolina, was a very different team: a traditional powerhouse who always recruits talented players. A team that included six McDonald’s All-American’s and future NFL star Julius Peppers, North Carolina was having a bit of a down year and was the definition of an underachiever. After losing 14 games and finishing third in the ACC, they were finally able to put it together to make a strong run to the Final Four.

This year has the same dynamic. The overachieving Butler Bulldogs are in the Final Four for the first time ever. Their surprising victory over Syracuse showed the world that this team is for real.

On the other side, there is the underachieving Michigan State. They went to the National Championship last year and they had the Big Ten locked up until an injury to Kalin Lucas tripped them up and dropped them all the way to a five seed.

Unlike 2000, one of these low-seeded teams will play in the Championship. Will it be the overachiever or underachiever?


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