Before UConn-Purdue, No. 1 seed matchup in title game has happened six times since 2000

The value of being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been debated over the years. While it’s hard to draw sweeping conclusions, we can say that being the favorite in a regional does not guarantee success. But historically it does help.

As top seeds Connecticut and Purdue prepare to square off for the title Monday night, we can guarantee that a No. 1 seed will win the title for the 25th time in the 39 tournaments of the 64-team era.

But beating another No. 1 seed to win the championship doesn't happened that often. The matchup between Purdue and Connecticut is just the seventh such meeting in a title game since the turn of the century. A quick look at the last six doesn’t necessarily indicate that we’re in for an instant classic, but neither can we rule it out.

Here’s how those previous six clashes went down.

2021 – Baylor vs. Gonzaga

The tournament in the bubble concluded with this clash of first-time title hopefuls. Two nights earlier, Gonzaga had kept its bid for perfection alive courtesy of a Jalen Suggs buzzer beater in overtime against UCLA. Unfortunately, the finale didn’t have nearly that level of drama as the Bears led wire-to-wire in an 86-70 romp. Baylor dominated the glass and knocked down 10 three-pointers, as MVP Jared Butler led the way with 22 points and seven assists.

Baylor guard MaCio Teague (31) shoots the ball against Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) during the national championship game of the 2021 NCAA men's tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Baylor guard MaCio Teague (31) shoots the ball against Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) during the national championship game of the 2021 NCAA men's tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.

2017 – North Carolina vs. Gonzaga

Gonzaga came a lot closer to claiming the crown in its first appearance in the final. But it was the Tar Heels who had a redemption story to complete after losing the title at the buzzer a year earlier to Villanova and Chris Jenkins. This contest wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing finale, featuring lots of blown whistles and bricks. But it wasn’t decided until the closing sequence when the Tar Heels managed to score the game’s last eight points in the final 1:40, started by Justin Jackson’s go-ahead three-point play. The 71-65 victory gave UNC its sixth national championship.

2015 – Duke vs. Wisconsin

The Badgers had ended Kentucky’s quest for an undefeated campaign two nights earlier and seemed headed for a championship of their own when they took a nine-point lead a little over six minutes into the second half. The Blue Devils, however, had other ideas. Led by freshmen Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, Duke rallied to take an eight-point lead in the final two minutes and held on for a 68-63 win. It was the fifth title for the Blue Devils.

2008 – Kansas vs. Memphis

This was the first – and to date only – time in the expansion era that all four No. 1 seeds reached the Final Four, so the title game was assured of being an all-No. 1 showdown. It certainly delivered the goods. Aided by a few missed free throws by the Tigers, the Jayhawks overcame a nine-point deficit in the final 2:12 of regulation, capped by Mario Chalmers’s memorable trey to tie it with 2.1 seconds remaining. With momentum then squarely on its side, KU took charge in the overtime period and went on to a 75-68 victory. It was the third of four championships in program history for the Jayhawks and the first of two under Bill Self.

2007 – Florida vs. Ohio State

Florida was on its way to accomplishing what UConn is attempting this year, a rare repeat championship. But while this year’s Huskies had to replace some key pieces, coach Billy Donovan’s Gators returned nearly intact from the previous year. The Buckeyes were on a roll themselves, riding a 22-game winning streak having dominated the Big Ten behind freshman big man Greg Oden. But Florida wouldn’t be denied, hitting 10-of-18 three-point tries in the game and not letting Ohio State draw any closer than six in the second half. Corey Brewer was named tourney MVP, joining teammate Joakim Noah who’d won the honor the year before. The 84-75 victory capped the first title twofer since Duke went back-to-back in 1991 and ‘92. It also completed the rare football-basketball double, also at the expense of Ohio State.

2005 – North Carolina vs. Illinois

The first and thus far lone trip to the season’s final day for Illinois ended in disappointment, despite the Fighting Illini entering the contest with a 37-1 record. Instead it was the Tar Heels who secured the first of three championships for Roy Williams. UNC took a 15-point lead early in the second half and appeared to be well in charge, but Illinois mounted a furious rally and had the game tied twice down the stretch. But Illinois went cold in the closing minutes, and Luther Head missed a tying three-point try with 17 seconds to go. Raymond Felton sealed the 75-70 victory with a pair of free throws, and Sean May was named MVP with a 26-point, 10-rebound performance.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UConn-Purdue is rare No. 1 seed matchup for national title.