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History Of NCAA Tournament First Four Games

Ed Nixon and Jamie Skeen of the VCU Rams celebrate after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament

Since the 2011 season, the NCAA has hosted the First Four – a collection of four games featuring the four lowest-ranked at-large teams and the four lowest-ranked automatic bid teams. These four games determine which teams will move forward into the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament.

These four games almost always take place at the University of Dayton Arena and happen earlier than the traditional NCAA Tournament contests – taking place on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the full slate of tourney games start on Thursday.

Though you may initially overlook teams in the First Four, in each year since 2011 at least one of these advancing programs has won a Round of 64 game following the play-ins. Most notably, the VCU Rams fought all the way from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011 before ultimately falling on the final weekend of the tournament.

Since the inception of the First Four, only four programs have appeared in the games more than once. Those four teams (USC, BYU, Boise State and Mount St. Mary’s) are a combined 3-5 with none of them posting a winning record in the play-in games.

The First Four has been a potential minefield for bettors, with favorites going a combined 16-14 SU and 12-17-1 ATS. Totals have taken the slightest lean toward the UNDER, with games failing to top the total in 17 of 30 contests.

History Of First Four Games
YearSeedingWinning TeamLosing TeamFinal ScoreHow Far Did Winner Go?
201116UTSAAlabama State70-61Round of 64
201116UNC-AshevilleArkansas-Little Rock81-77Round of 64
201112ClemsonUAB70-52Round of 64
201111VCUUSC59-46Final Four
201216Western KentuckyMississippi Valley State59-58Round of 64
201216VermontLamar71-59Round of 64
201214BYUIona78-72Round of 64
201212USFCalifornia65-54Round of 32
201316North Carolina A&TLiberty73-72Round of 64
201316James MadisonLong Island68-55Round of 64
201313La SalleBoise State80-71Sweet 16
201311Saint Mary’sMiddle Tennessee67-54Round of 64
201416AlbanyMount St. Mary’s71-64Round of 64
201416Cal PolyTexas Southern81-69Round of 64
201412NC StateXavier74-59Round of 64
201411TennesseeIowa78-65Sweet 16
201516HamptonManhattan74-64Round of 64
201516Robert MorrisNorth Florida81-77Round of 64
201511Ole MissBYU94-90Round of 64
201511DaytonBoise State56-55Round of 32
201616Florida Gulf CoastFairleigh Dickinson96-65Round of 64
201616Holy CrossSouthern59-55Round of 64
201611Wichita StateVanderbilt70-50Round of 32
201611MichiganTulsa67-62Round of 64
201716Mount St. Mary’sNew Orleans67-66Round of 64
201716UC DavisNorth Carolina Central67-63Round of 64
201711Kansas StateWake Forest95-88Round of 64
201711USCProvidence75-71Round of 32
201816LIU BrooklynRadford71-61-
201811St BonaventureUCLA65-58-