For the the overachieving lower seeds in the NCAA tournament, history has a message: Enjoy it while you can.

Schools from conferences such as the Horizon League (Butler) usually have to settle for
busting brackets because they scarcely enter the Final Four picture. Since 1985, when the field expanded to 64 schools, 92 percent of Final Four teams have come from one of the six
power conferences. (See Triviality at right.) It seems the little guys are almost always swept out of the picture, eventually.

NCAA conference representation in Final Four by percentage, 1985-2009

23% Atlantic Coast: Duke (10 appearances), North Carolina (9),
Georgia Tech (2), Maryland (2)
 

17% Big East: Connecticut (3), Syracuse (3), Georgetown (2), Louisville (2), Villanova (2), Cincinnati (1), Marquette (1), Providence (1), Seton Hall (1), St. John’s (1)
17% Big Ten: Michigan St. (5), Indiana (3), Michigan (3), Ohio St. (2), Illinois (2), Minnesota (1), Wisconsin (1)

14% Southeastern: Florida (4), Kentucky (4), Arkansas (2), LSU (2), Mississippi St. (1)
 

2% Conference USA: Memphis (2)
 

12% Big 12: Kansas (7), Oklahoma (2), Oklahoma St. (2), Texas (1)

9% Pacific 10: Arizona (4), UCLA (4), Stanford (1)
4% Mountain West: UNLV (3), Utah (1)
 

14% Southeastern: Florida (4), Kentucky (4), Arkansas (2), LSU (2), Mississippi St. (1)

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2% Conference USA: Memphis (2)
 

1% Atlantic 10: Massachusetts (1)
 

1% Colonial: George Mason (1)
 

(compiled by Max J. Dickstein )
 

Notes
• The NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
 

• Louisville’s 1986 appearance, credited here to the Big East, was made when the Cardinals were in the Metro Conference.

• Memphis’ 1985 appearance, credited here to Conference USA, also came with the now-defunct Metro Conference.

• While we are counting their seasons here, the NCAA officially expunged the following teams from the record book due to violations: Michigan (1992 and 1993), Massachusetts (1996) and Memphis (2008).