The term Elite Eight refers to the final eight teams in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship or the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship. In Division I, the Elite Eight consists of the teams in the final game of each of the tournament's four regional brackets. The winners advance to the Final Four. Since 1997 when the NCAA copyrighted 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.
The lowest seeded team ever to reach this round in the modern 64 team tournament era was #12 Missouri in 2002. They upset #5 seed Miami (Fl.), #4 seed Ohio St., and #8 seed UCLA in succession before losing to #2 seed Oklahoma in the West regional that year.
On average, three of the four number 1 seeds make it to the Elite Eight each year. The Elite Eight is considered by some to be an "acceptability threshold" of gauging the success or failure of a #1 seed in the tournament.
Like March Madness, the phrase Elite Eight, originally applied to the boys' 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.