In the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship or the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship, the "Elite Eight" are the final eight teams and, thus represent the regional finals, or national quarterfinals. In Division I and Division III, the Elite Eight consists of the two teams in each of the four regional championship games. The winners advance to the Final Four. Since 1997, when the NCAA trademarked the phrase, in Division II the Elite Eight consists of the eight winners of the eight Division II regions. Like the Division I Final Four, the Division II Elite Eight games are all held in one predetermined location.
In the men's Division I, the lowest-seeded team ever to reach this round in the modern 64 team tournament era was #12 Missouri in 2002, who upset #5-seed Miami (Florida), #4-seed Ohio State, and #8-seed UCLA before losing to #2-seed Oklahoma in the West regional that year. Eight #11 seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight: LSU in 1986, Loyola Marymount in 1990, Temple in 2001, George Mason in 2006, Virginia Commonwealth in 2011, Dayton in 2014, Xavier in 2017, and Loyola Chicago in 2018.
On average, three of the four #1 seeds make it to the Elite Eight each year. In men's play, the Elite Eight exists intact for less than 24 hours between the second Friday evening and the following Saturday afternoon of the tournament. The Elite Eight also represents the halfway mark of the men's tournament since each qualifying team must win three rounds (games) to reach the national quarterfinals, with three rounds remaining to reach and win the national championship game.
Like "March Madness," the phrase "Elite Eight" originally referred to the Illinois High School Boys Basketball Championship, the single-elimination high school basketball tournament run by the Illinois High School Association. When the IHSA finals were reduced from sixteen to eight teams in 1956, a replacement nickname for Sweet Sixteen was needed, and Elite Eight won popular favor. The IHSA trademarked the term in 1995; the trademark rights are now held by the March Madness Athletic Association, a joint venture between the NCAA and IHSA formed after a 1996 court case allowed both organizations to use "March Madness" for their own tournaments.
Elite Eight can also refer to the eight NCAA Division I baseball teams that reach the College World Series.