The most-picked March Madness champion every year since 2014

Every year, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the NCAA men’s bracket get most of the championship picks among Bracket Challenge Game players. But sometimes one team takes up so much attention that there’s a sizable gap among the most-picked choices. Other years, BCG users spread out the selections.

Here’s a look at the most picked Bracket Challenge Game championship winners, going back to 2014. We also list the champion and its percentage — if that winner wasn’t the same as the most-chosen champ.

The most popular pick (and champion): UConn — 26.09 percent

The Huskies repeated as national champs and became the first title team to be the most-picked BCG champ since Villanova in 2018. UConn was the No. 1 overall seed and the runaway top choice for bracket fillers, as Houston was a distant second (champion on 10.94 percent of brackets). Huskies romped to another title, winning their six games by 39, 17, 30, 25, 14 and 15 points.

The most popular pick: Houston — 20.18 percent
The champ: UConn — 2.08 percent

Houston was the top pick to win it all, entering the tournament tied for the most wins of any team in the country. Yet, the Cougars fell in the Sweet 16 in a loss to No. 5 Miami.

The eventual champion UConn Huskies had the 11th-most brackets pick them to win the championship at 2.08 percent.

The most popular pick: Gonzaga — 30.26 percent
The champ: Kansas — 7.87 percent

Gonzaga was the top pick for the second year in a row, as the Bulldogs were the No. 1 overall seed again. But Gonzaga fell in the Sweet 16 in an upset loss to No. 4 Arkansas.

The eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks weren’t far down the list — at 7.87 percent, KU was the third-most popular selection among BCG brackets. For reference, No. 1 Arizona was second at 13.76.

The most popular pick: Gonzaga — 38.84 percent
The champ: Baylor — 8.44 percent

Gonzaga almost became the sport’s first undefeated champion since Indiana in 1975-76. The Bulldogs entered the tournament unbeaten and reached the title game before falling to Baylor. Those Bears were the third-most popular pick — but you can see the gap between the two (and Illinois, the No. 2 favorite pick at 15.70 percent)

The most popular pick: Duke — 39.12 percent
The champ: Virginia — 5.86 percent

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Virginia celebrates is 2019 NCAA championship.

Duke seemingly had it all. The Blue Devils won the ACC tournament title, were 29-5, grabbed the No. 1 overall seed — and had Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and others. Add that all up and more than 39 percent of BCG players picked Duke to cut down the nets. The Blue Devils had close calls with No. 9 UCF and No. 4 Virginia Tech before falling to No. 2 Michigan State in an Elite Eight thriller.

Virginia, the ACC regular-season champ, went all the way on only 5.86 percent of BCG brackets. But one year after UVA lost to UMBC in the historic 16-over-1 shocker, the Cavaliers won their first national title.

The most popular pick (and champion): Villanova — 17.52 percent

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Villanova wins the 2018 NCAA title.

Virginia had the No. 1 overall seed at 31-2, but De’Andre Hunter broke his wrist in the ACC tournament and had to miss the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers’ stay didn’t last, however, with No. 16 UMBC’s monumental upset leaving 16.46 percent of users without their champion in the tournament after the first round.

But Virginia wasn’t even the most popular pick. That would be Villanova. The Wildcats, another No. 1 seed, dominated their opponents that year, winning all six NCAA tournament games by double digits.


The most popular pick (and champion): North Carolina — 14.55 percent

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
North Carolina's Theo Pinson

UNC was both the most popular pick and the eventual 2017 champion, but there was not much of a gap between the Tar Heels and other favorite BCG title selections. Here’s how bunched up it was at the top, including what would be North Carolina’s final opponent (Gonzaga):

  • North Carolina: 14.55 percent
  • Kansas: 12.44 percent
  • Villanova: 12.26 percent
  • Duke: 11.69 percent
  • UCLA: 11.14 percent
  • Gonzaga: 9.99 percent

TAKE A CHANCE: Here are the odds of having a perfect bracket


The most popular pick: Kansas — 24.87 percent
The champ: Villanova — 2.36 percent

Champion Villanova took down the most popular BCG pick, Kansas, in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks claimed the No. 1 overall seed, but they weren’t the runaway favorite choice — Michigan State came in second. However, the No. 2 Spartans lost to No. 15 Middle Tennessee, disappointing nearly 22 percent of BCG players who had Tom Izzo and Michigan State winning it all.

The most popular pick: Kentucky — 46.57 percent
The champ: Duke — 10.54 percent

With the undefeated Wildcats in the field, was there any doubt about their popularity here?

Kentucky started the season ranked No. 1 and never fell out of the top spot, picking up the No. 1 overall seed and going into March Madness 34-0. Four wins followed, but Wisconsin upset UK in the Final Four.

That Wisconsin team almost matched Duke on the floor and when it came to BCG picks — 10.69 percent of users chose the Badgers to win it all compared to Duke’s 10.54 percent. But Duke won the showdown, 68-63, for Mike Krzyzewski’s fifth title. 

The most popular pick: Florida — 26.04 percent
The champ: UConn — 0.23 percent

Here’s the biggest surprise of them all, at least going back to 2014.

The Huskies were only a No. 7 seed and 26-8 when they took the court to face No. 10 Saint Joseph’s to begin their tournament run. UConn won that one in OT before defeating No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Iowa State, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 1 Florida and No. 8 Kentucky to win for the second time in four years. UConn was the No. 22 most popular champion pick in 2014.

Florida was the clear No. 1 pick in 2014, as Michigan State (13.30) was the only other BCG champion pick for more than 10 percent of players. Of the Gators’ three losses that season, two came to UConn.

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